An Open Letter from Dan McCleary
Tennessee Shakespeare Company founder and producing artistic director
May 21, 2013
Dear Friend of Shakespeare.
The City of Germantown, TN, in which Tennessee Shakespeare Company resides, is proposing to eliminate entirely the City's education grant funding to TSC for the annual budget to begin July 1, 2013.
The City generously awarded education grants to TSC in varying sums for the past five years. TSC has always matched these grant dollar-for-dollar. For the past two years, this funding has totaled $70,000 each year for immersive, innovative, classical education for ALL Germantown students (not just theatre students). What's more, the grant is made possible not by tax-payers but by those of us (TSC included) who rent the Germantown Performing Arts Center in town. Now, the City wants those rental fees to help offset issues in their annual budget.
To our knowledge, TSC's education program is the only arts and education grant being proposed for 100% elimination.
The grant makes possible TSC's classical education program and free/discounted access to live, professional Shakespeare to thousands of students at the five Germantown schools, including free playshops, free residencies, Free Will Kids Nights, deeply-discounted morning matinees of all of TSC's professional productions, the innovative Romeo and Juliet Project, and the pre-show Prelude scenes.
The City says that the economy is forcing it to make difficult decisions. For those of you who have had your position eliminated or salary cut in the past four years, as we have done at TSC, I am sure you, as I, appreciate this position.
However, what we have never done at TSC is cut or eliminate a program that was more than doubling its return on investment financially while also providing a socially responsible and academically measurable service to our community. That would be a questionable business decision. And we certainly wouldn't be adhering to our mission.
I respectfully submit to you that the City, in proposing this education program de-funding, is addressing other priorities than its stated mission.
Open Call for Applications to Tennessee Shakespeare Company's Salaried Journeyman Artist-Manager Program
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is now accepting letters of intent for its 2013-14 performance season in Germantown/Memphis, TN.
One male and one female artist-manager from the United States will be selected as resident journeymen.
Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Fourth Annual Summer Shakespeare Camps offered in Germantown by TSC
Germantown, Tenn. (May 1, 2013) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South's professional, classical theatre and education organization, is offering two unique, immersive Shakespeare Play Camps to be held at the Poplar Pike Playhouse at Germantown High School this June.
Camps are open to students entering Grades 6-12.
These fun one- and two-week Camps offer participants the opportunity to train alongside TSC's professional actor-teachers, build upon essential acting techniques, and take personal ownership of Shakespeare's text.
"For children new to Shakespeare, you couldn't ask for a better introduction," promises Education Director, Stephanie Shine. "Meeting these plays as a player of Shakespeare makes them immediate, accessible, and most of all fun. After the TSC camp experience, a student will eagerly greet Shakespeare like a good friend when they meet him again in a traditional classroom."
Playing, training, and rehearsing just like TSC actors, participants are led through sessions in Stage Combat, Text Work, Scene Play, Voice Work, Stage Movement, and Elizabethan Dance. Both Summer Play Camps are performance-based, and culminate in a public sharing of soliloquies, scenes, combat, and dance.
What is The Romeo and Juliet Project?
This spring, TSC brought Romeo and Juliet to life for every ninth-grade student at Bartlett, Ridgeway, and Kirby High Schools as part of The Romeo and Juliet Project. Every freshmen class received three visits from a TSC Teaching-Artist who moved the text off the page to create an active encounter with the play.
The Romeo and Juliet Project has two life-changing, even life-saving, goals:
1) To bolster interest and engagement in classical literature, sparking a life-long love affair with reading while strengthening both comprehension and self-confidence.
2) To create positive social change in each school's learning community. We do this by exploring three central themes within the play that profoundly affect Memphis youth:
- Armed Violence;
- Peer Pressure; and
- Decision-Making in the absence of adult role models.
Over the course of three sessions, students develop language to articulate their feelings, gain greater empathy and compassion for one another, and explore life-saving alternatives to resolving conflicts violently.
What are Teachers and Students Saying?
"I can't believe how into it the students are. They're really going beneath the surface and getting to the issues in this play. The way TSC teachers highlight how the story relates to the students' lives is amazing. What TSC is doing is amazing. The whole project is just amazing!"
- Barb Gelb, Director of Education & Outreach, ArtsMemphis
"This is the most enjoyable class ever. I wish you could teach the entire play!"
- Freshman English Student, Bartlett High School
"Because my students had the privilege to watch the actors in action, the play truly came alive for them during our subsequent reading of the play. The program has benefitted countless students, and I sincerely hope that it can continue its impact."
- Morgan Byrd, Freshman English Teacher, Bartlett High School
How Can I Get Involved?
Our work in the three target schools was so successful that we want to expand and bring this life-saving message to even more students throughout Memphis in Fall 2013. The Romeo and Juliet Project is funded in part by ArtsMemphis, but you can help ensure our success in the classroom by becoming a Project Sponsor.
Your sponsorship helps fund this exciting outreach endeavor, further guaranteeing that no student or school will EVER have to pay to participate. As our "thank you," your minimum sponsorship of $50.00 entitles you to receive the exclusive Romeo and Juliet Project T-Shirt. Sizes are limited, so hurry for best selection!
TSC's Hamlet plays in an elegant Edwardian production
at Memphis' Dixon Gallery and Gardens
Memphis, TN (February 25, 2013) – – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South's professional classical theatre, presents a special, limited engagement of William Shakespeare's Hamlet inside Dixon Gallery and Garden's Winegardner Auditorium from April 3-14 in Memphis.
Directed by TSC's Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Dan McCleary (The Tempest, Glass Menagerie, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It), this elegant Edwardian production is generously sponsored by Independent Bank and Ann & Wellford Tabor. The exclusive media sponsor is Commercial Appeal Media.
- 'The Apparel Oft Proclaims the Man' Costume Exhibit to Come March 18
- WKNO and TSC hosting costume exhibit and documentary screening
- TSC and WKNO in Memphis Awarded One of Ten WNET Grants in the United States to Partner for “Shakespeare Uncovered” in 2013
- TSC Stages Inside Dixon Gallery & Gardens It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play