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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

  • Back by popular demand: The Shakespeare Brunch
  • Three New Board Members and Officers Announced for 2016-17
  • TSC Announces Full Ninth Season
  • The Oliver Experiment
pic the winters tale 2016 Photo: Elliot LaPlante. Kelli Radwanski Photography

Back by popular demand:

The Shakespeare Brunch

Join us for an elegant Sunday brunch, drinks, and an abbreviated Shakespeare reading in a beautiful indoor setting. Acted by some of your favorite TSC players, the reading is preceded by a delicious and thematic buffet with cash bar. Your $40 ticket includes the buffet and reading.

title the winters tale

by William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 20

12:30-3:30 pm
directed by Stephanie Shine
at The Memphis Hunt and Polo Club
Host Members: Margaret and Owen Tabor


Shakespeare’s late romance features a Bohemian rhapsody of near-magical redemption and forgiveness, featuring over 20 professional actors, including Carey Urban, Tony Molina, Darius Wallace, Stephanie Shine, and Dan McCleary.

Attire: cocktail/business casual.

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Three New Board Members and Officers Announced for 2016-17

(November 7, 2016) - Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced its 26-member Board of Directors unanimously approved the elections of three new members and a slate of new Officers to its Executive Committee for FY17.

Melanie
Melanie Stovall Murry

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Michael R. Marshall

Joining the Board for three-year terms are educator Pat Casserly Kelly, lawyer Michael R. Marshall of Evans Petree, and University of Memphis General Counsel Melanie Stovall Murry.

Dr. Owen B. Tabor returns as President. His officers are Ernest G. Kelly, Jr. (Vice President), C. Cato Ealy (Treasurer), and Melia M. Murphy (Secretary). Their terms are renewable after one year.

Rotating to TSC’s Emeritus Founders Board is educator Ruth Dunning, who helped create the Company in 2007-08.

Pat Casserly Kelly, though she still finds herself teaching, is the retired chair of the English and Humanities departments at The Hutchison School and its recipient of the Margaret Wellford Tabor chair for Excellence in Teaching English. In her teaching career, she emphasized the great writers and thinkers of the Western tradition—Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Austen, Dickens, Hardy—as she encouraged her students to become lovers of literature and independent and creative thinkers. Mrs. Kelly was a president of the Shelby-Memphis Council of Teachers of English and was recognized as a Teacher of Excellence by the National Council Teachers of English. She was a recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities study grants, and was chosen by the U.S. Department of State for a teacher exchange program in Eurasia. She served two terms on the vestry of St. Elisabeth’s Church in Raleigh and was the Director of Religious Education there for 15 years. Currently a communicant at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, she serves as a lector, a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a member of the hospitality committee, and is serving her first year of her term on the Chapter of the Cathedral.

Michael R. Marshall is legal counsel at Evans Petree in Memphis. He is the co-leader of the Labor and Employment section and uses his experience in other arenas to reach solutions and resolutions to his clients’ disputes. He has extensive experience in litigating and resolving employment matters and other business-related disputes. He is a frequent speaker on employment-related topics. Mr. Marshall was the lead attorney in a case brought by the Memphis City Schools against the City of Memphis and obtained a $57 million verdict for education funding. Mr. Marshall graduated from the University of California and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association Member, Tennessee Bar Association Member, and Memphis Bar Association member. He is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and Texas. Mr. Marshall has also served as the General Counsel for the Memphis City Schools, and is the general counsel for the Shelby County Emergency Communications District and for Lausanne Collegiate School.

Melanie Stovall Murry is General Counsel at the University of Memphis. Mrs. Murry joined the University in December 2002, serving as associate and assistant counsel. She was also an adjunct faculty member for the doctoral program in higher education administration for the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. She serves as an instructor at the Tennessee Institute for Pre-law. Mrs. Murry graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program and was a 2008 fellow of the New Memphis Institute. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, and has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Louis University.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Announces Full Ninth Season of Plays and Educational Activities for 2016-17

pic production mockingbird2016

pic production much ado2016

pic production comedy errors2016

(Memphis, TN; August 11, 2016) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre, today announced its full 2016-17 season of plays, outreach programs, and Education initiatives in the Memphis area and beyond.

Launching TSC’s ninth season is its first production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Directed by TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary, the adaptation will perform in the Wiener Theater on the campus of Hutchison School in East Memphis from September 20 through October 2.  The play is produced in partnership with Hutchison.  The cast of 20 actors features Broadway veteran Patrick Ryan Sullivan as Atticus Finch, Memphian Ainsley Geno as Scout, and the return of TSC favorite Tony Molina, Jr. as Rev. Sykes. 

Early Bird tickets are on sale now for To Kill a Mockingbird: the first 24 seats sold to each performance will be located in the new Best Seats section of the theatre.

In the winter, TSC returns to Dixon Gallery & Gardens for the holiday season with an elegant, celebratory Much Ado About Nothing befitting the season of cheer.  Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, directed by McCleary, plays on the Winegardner Auditorium stage December 8-18.

The fun continues in early summer with Shakespeare’s boisterous comedy of mistaken identities.  The Comedy of Errors, produced in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, will play the U of M mainstage June 8-18, 2017.

The Southern Literary Salons return, featuring the works of Eudora Welty (Mississippi Myth) on January 27 and Flannery O’Connor (Georgia Gothic) on April 21.  These literary parties in beautiful, private homes from 6:00-8:00 pm curate readings, light fare, and writer-specific libations.

Back by popular demand is The Shakespeare Brunch, featuring abbreviated, staged readings of a redemptive The Winter’s Tale (November 20) and a provocative The Merchant of Venice (May 21) preceded by an expansive brunch buffet and bar.  Acted by some of TSC’s best-known actors, the Brunches run from 12:30-3:30 pm inside the elegant Memphis Hunt & Polo Club. 

The season also includes the Eighth Annual Shakespeare Gala, bringing to Memphis a new Broadway headliner on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Germantown Performing Arts Center.  The Gala, complete with lavish dinner and open bars located throughout the theatre, supports TSC’s nationally-acclaimed Education Program.

This season, the Education Program significantly expands its anti-violence schools residency and performance schedule of The Romeo and Juliet Project.  Nine actor/teaching-artists will work in over 20 schools, largely underserved, in Shelby County from September through February, reaching more than 6,000 students.  Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits, a fun 2-actor introduction to the playwright’s essential scenes and soliloquies, will tour schools and theatres throughout the southeastern United States.  Both productions are created and directed by TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.

TSC’s generous Mainstage title sponsors include FedEx; Dorothy O. Kirsch; Ernest, Pat, Martha, & Marian Kelly; Independent Bank; Tennessee Arts Commission; Ann and Wellford Tabor; and The University of Memphis.

TSC’s season partners are Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Hutchison School, Shelby County Schools, St. George’s Church, and the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.  The season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.

“Our ninth season is a response both to the world’s recent events and to our patrons’ desires,” says McCleary.  “To Kill a Mockingbird is an American masterpiece of the 20th Century.  It is time for each of us to pick up Harper Lee’s novel and read or re-read it.  In Much Ado About Nothing, we are a nation of peace at home and abroad, and in this dream we go pleasure-seeking.  Still, uninhibited love is surprisingly difficult to give away in this environment, to both comedic and tragic effect.  And in Comedy of Errors, famous for its physical and archetypal humor, we find ourselves in a world in which the mortal threat to immigrants cannot prevent this non-traditional family, even after years of separation, from making a heart-felt discovery.

“I am deeply grateful to our season sponsors, production partners, and over 300 donors who make professional, classical theatre and our education programming possible.  The work we do with children in our schools is immediate, impactful, proven, and a powerful model for successful replication throughout the United States.  We live in a time when the arts, and experiencing Shakespeare’s plays, need to be at the center of our national educational curriculum, not subsisting on the fringes.  They are not a luxury, they are for everyone.  The works of William Shakespeare are our birthright, and if they are supported educationally and financially then we see first-hand how our children enthusiastically embrace his compassion, his poetry, and his open-hearted query of humanity.”

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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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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         Tennessee Arts Commission

International Paper             University of Memphis  logo-arts-memphis



     First Tenneessee Foundation    

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Individual Season Sponsors:

Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; Nancy Copp; Ernest, Pat, Martha, and Marian Kelly; Milton T. Schaeffer; The Family of Owen and Margaret Tabor;
Ann and Wellford Tabor.

Season Partners:

Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Hutchison School, Shelby County Schools, St. George’s Church, 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