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ArtsMemphis Awards Education Grant to Tennessee Shakespeare Company to Introduce 2,150 Incoming High School Freshmen to Romeo and Juliet

(October 15, 2012) – ArtsMemphis announced that Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, has been awarded a matching $19,000 Arts Education and Outreach grant to fund an enhancement and expansion of its successful Romeo and Juliet Project pilot program into three area schools in 2013. 

The three participating schools are Bartlett High School, Ridgeway High School, and Kirby High School.  A separate education grant from the City of Germantown and Germantown Performing Arts Centre will help fund the program and a host of other interactive and performance events at two additional schools, including Germantown High School.

TSC projects that over 2,150 students will be taught by its Teaching Artists across scores of classroom visits.

The Romeo and Juliet Project will reach every ninth grade student in each school. Each classroom will receive three TSC Actor/Teaching Artist-led sessions, including pre- and post-assessments. TSC will teach in English and Literature classes, not courses for the dramatic arts.  This program serves to integrate the arts into the Common Core curriculum by moving the plays off the page and into the students’ lives.

TSC Education Director and resident director/actor, Stephanie Shine, piloted the program last year at Germantown High School by introducing each freshman to Romeo and Juliet interactively in their classrooms over the course of 23 visits.  Both the anecdotal and testing results were extraordinarily positive.

With this program, TSC endeavors to turn students on to Shakespeare rather than off.  Students will engage and collaborate with the text and with each other so that they can come to Shakespeare on their own terms.  Class-time for students then becomes an hour of enlightenment and self-discovery physically, poetically, psychologically, politically, and personally.

This program prompts students’ questions and further inspires them to explore, read, and talk about the issues they face daily, specifically violence, peer pressure, prejudice, and feelings of passion, which will all be addressed through this interactive study of Romeo and Juliet.

“TSC believes Shakespeare is for everyone, not simply those who are arts-oriented, or of a certain background, economic status, or culture,” says TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary.  “This generous grant from ArtsMemphis will allow TSC to give students an opportunity to learn about themselves, question and explore in a safe environment, and develop compassion for each other.”

Romeo and Juliet addresses three important issues that have a profound affect on Memphis youth: armed lethal violence, peer pressure, and prejudice.  TSC’s curriculum prompts students to inhabit the problems caused by these issues within the play, not only asking them to engage in the issues but encouraging them to inquire how the tragedies could have been avoided had the play’s characters, both young and old, made different decisions.  Students then discover the importance of the decisions they make in their own lives with their own peers in their own city and are given the opportunity to discover healing.

“Students will be given the language to articulate how they feel about the play’s themes, which are personal for too many of these young students,” says Shine.  “They will discover ways to communicate, collaborate, and affect change. As the program continues to grow and provide hundreds of classroom victories each week, the entire school will have had this experience in three years, transforming not just a class but the culture of an entire academic community.”

A 2010 article in The Commercial Appeal noted that 85% of Memphis City School students are economically disadvantaged, up from 75% in 2004 (“5 Shelby County Schools Added to Title 1 List,” June 8, 2010).  Statistics show that students coming from low-income families are seven times more likely to drop out of high school than their economically advantaged counterparts, and over one third of all dropouts are lost in the ninth grade (“Alliance for Excellent Education,” 2010).

Students who participate in the arts are more likely to make A’s and B’s in English; to read for pleasure; to score in the top 50th percentile in reading, history, citizenship, and geography; and to score in the top 50th percentile on standardized tests (“Involvement in the Arts and Human Development,” 1999).  TSC’s pilot program assessment supports these statistics. 

Students with low economic status but high involvement in the dramatic arts are more likely to be friendly with other racial groups and less likely to make a racist remark.  Arts participants are also more likely to perform community service and to feel good about themselves (“Involvement in the Arts and Human Development,” 2009).  These personal and social benefits can be the cornerstones of change not only in these schools, but in the communities that support these schools and their students.

 

About TSC’s Education Program

The mission of Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Education program is to move the arts closer to the center of every child’s learning experience.  This is achieved through TSC’s student matinees, accompanying study guides, and actor talk-backs; interactive playshops; touring productions; summer camps; residencies; Free Will Kids’ Nights; High School Prelude Scenes; and active participation in theatre and education conferences.

Since 2007, TSC has achieved nearly 100,000 student/Shakespeare interactions through these activities. These interactions represent 70 Memphis City, Shelby County, Home, and Charter schools and schools in Mississippi and Washington. In FY12, TSC engaged 46 Memphis-area schools in its professional, classical education programming. Students under 19 years of age also made up over one-half of TSC’s patrons this past year.

TSC has reached over 13,000 students from over 60 schools through seven student matinee productions of and performed in five partner venues throughout Shelby County: St. George’s Episcopal Church, Poplar Pike Playhouse, Germantown City Hall, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, and Shelby Farms Park.  For most productions, interactive study guides are distributed to each student who attends a matinee. These study guides are unique to TSC’s interpretation of the production, and provide pre- and post-activities through which teachers can maximize the educational experience of seeing Shakespeare in performance.

TSC’s program sponsors and partners include the Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, FedEx Corporation, the Dunbar Abston Fund for Sustainable Excellence, Nancy and Dan Copp, Margaret and Dr. Owen B. Tabor and family, Jack and Sandra Jones, Milton T. Schaeffer, Audrey L. Taylor (d. 2012), City of Germantown, Germantown Performing Arts Centre, and Commercial Appeal Media.

 

About ArtsMemphis

The Romeo and Juliet Project is made possible through a generous Arts Education and Outreach grant from ArtsMemphis.  ArtsMemphis’ Arts Education & Outreach grant program provides quality arts education and outreach programs to a broad segment of people in the greater Memphis community. The program aims to increase awareness of, access to and appreciation of the arts; to encourage nonprofit organizations to be collaborative, innovative and inclusive in their education and outreach programs; and to work together to make a collective impact in our community. The ArtsMemphis Arts Education & Outreach program is made possible through a lead gift from the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc, and generous donations from Gerber Taylor Capital Advisors, Inc., Hyde Family Foundations, Regions Financial Corporation, and Schadt Foundation.

News

  • Shakespeare in American Communities Grant
  • Eighth Season Announced
  • The Oliver Experiment
  • Midsummer Night
  • TSC Announces Four New Members

Arts Midwest Announces 2016–2017
Shakespeare in American Communities
Grants
Including Tennessee Shakespeare Company

Grants Mark 14th Year of Bringing Shakespeare to Youth

logo nea 2016Minneapolis, MN/Memphis, TN – Arts Midwest today announced $1 million in grants to 40 nonprofit, professional theater companies across 26 states, plus the District of Columbia, to perform the works of William Shakespeare for students through Shakespeare in American Communities.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company was announced as one of the 40 recipients (one of only six in the southeastern U.S.) for the second time in its history.  The grant will support TSC’s innovative and successful Romeo and Juliet Project in underserved Freshman high school classes in 2016-17.

The awards mark the fourteenth consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Each of the participating theater companies will present productions of Shakespeare plays to students from at least 10 schools.  Accompanying educational activities include in-school residencies, workshops, or post-performance discussions.  Performances will take place between August 1, 2016, and July 31, 2017.

Since the program’s inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has introduced middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare, benefiting more than 2.8 million individuals, including 2.3 million students, with live performances and educational activities.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Announces Eighth Season of Plays and Education Programs:

Celebration 400
1616-2016

(Memphis, TN, September 1, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, today announced its 2015-16 performance season, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a celebration of plays, readings, salons, feasts, and extensive programming for children.

TSC continues its cultural/educational partnerships with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance and with Dixon Gallery & Gardens.  Full productions of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well (Dixon) and Henry V (UofM) will feature professional, AEA casts from around the country and Memphis.

The Company also partners with the Memphis Hunt & Polo Club to feature three weeks of feasts and two-hour readings of Shakespeare plays that TSC has not yet produced.  The Southern Literary Salons continue in September with a focus on Harper Lee, and in February spotlighting Ernest Hemingway in Key West.  The Seventh Annual Shakespeare Gala at Germantown Performing Arts Center moves to April to commemorate Celebration 400 during the month of the 400th anniversary.

Running concurrently with the performance season are the expanded offerings of TSC’s Education and Outreach Department.  These include a newly-authored schools show touring the southeastern U.S., student matinees, playshops and residencies, expanded Summer camps, and the recently-trademarked Romeo and Juliet Project™ literacy/non-violence residency.

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Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?

Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars

Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.

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Midsummer Night

Live music, glow sticks, and power chords!
Featuring Broadway’s Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony

Memphis, TN (June 15, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its second developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with Midsummer Night by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn on June 27 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

Midsummer Night, directed by Janet Roston, is the second of three developing musicals in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Broadway's Katrina Lenk

 Eric B. Anthony

Broadway's Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony 

Sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first musical in Showplace Memphis last month was a very successful reading of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  The final musical will be a charming and surprising new piece, The Oliver Experiment (August 15).

TRW has selected the musicals, and the Actors’ Equity casts and directors are coming from all around the country and Memphis.

The cast includes Broadway’s Katrina Lenk (Once; Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark; The Miracle Worker) as Titania and Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King; Hairspray; Mary Poppins) as Puck.

Songwriters Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda join with co-creator/director Janet Roston (Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Rock Opera Company) for this new take on William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The musical is set within a modern-day rock festival.  It’s a rollicking collision of rock music, iambic pentameter, and hipsters – where rock stars Titania and Oberon quarrel, festival assistant Puck creates havoc, and roadie Bottom gets a chance to shine.  

Keyboardist Milburn and electric violinist Vigoda have been singing and writing songs together for over 20 years, first for their band GrooveLily, and more recently for musical theatre and film.  Theatre:  Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison, Wheelhouse, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Short Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, its complete reworking as the rock musical Midsummer Night, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.  Film: many songs for Tinker Bell for Disney animated movies.  Additional music is provided by Gene Lewin.   

The Midsummer Night creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, Midsummer Night will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of Midsummer Night immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company Announces Four New Members to its Board of Directors

Memphis, TN – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre and education organization, announced the addition of four new members to its Board of Directors, led by President Owen B. Tabor, M.D.

Now in the midst of its eighth season, TSC has expanded the Board to its largest membership.  The Board is made up of 26 members and now six Emeritus members.

New members voted onto the Board beginning FY16 for their first three-year terms are:

Elise L. Jordan, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer with FedEx Express.

Dorothy O. Kirsch, Memphis philanthropist with a long history of supporting the arts and culture in the Mid-South.

Anne Johnson Mead, partner at the law firm of Butler, Sevier, Hinsley & Reid, PLLC, focusing her practice on litigation, collaborative law, and mediation.  Anne is a member of the Tennessee and Memphis Bar Associations, and serves on the Board for the Family Law Section of the Memphis Bar.

Tracy Vezina Patterson, Director of Alumni Relations at Rhodes College.  She is an alumna of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis School of Law.  Tracy is actively involved in several ministries of St. George's Episcopal Church and has served on the Vestry and as Senior Warden.  Past civic involvements include Memphis Civitan and Special Kids and Families.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis

logo-ibank

First Tenneessee Foundation

 

Tennessee Arts Commission


Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, International Paper, Rose M. Johnston, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., Milton T. Schaeffer, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, Tennessee Arts Commission, and The University of Memphis.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, and The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       ArtsMemphis    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association     Where We Live