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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

  • Open Enrollment for Sixth Annual Shakespeare Training Camps
  • AC Wharton, Jr. Visits Romeo and Juliet Project in Action
  • Romeo and Juliet Project - 4th Year
  • Become a Fan

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Announces
Open Enrollment for its Sixth Annual Shakespeare Training Camps Held at the University of Memphis in June

Dynamic Theatre Training for Youth

summer-camp-enrollmentMemphis, TN (March 26, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South's professional, classical theatre and education organization, is offering two unique, immersive Shakespeare Training Camps to be held for the first time on the campus of the University of Memphis this June.

TSC's Shakespeare Training Camps are open to students entering Grades 6-12. The one-week camp (The Play's The Thing: June 8-12) explores Shakespeare's As You Like It and is ideal for participants with little or no theatre experience. The cost per participant of the one-week camp is $250. Lunches are available for an additional charge.

The two-week camp (Young Players Training Intensive: June 15-26) is ideal for participants with a little more theatre experience. The cost per participant of the two-week camp is $500. Lunches are available for an additional charge.

Both camps run from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday; and both camps are already one-third full. The final scene-sharings for each camp will be played on the Mainstage in the Theatre Building. Camp sessions will be held in the adjacent Communication and Fine Arts Building at the University of Memphis.

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Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. to Visit Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet Project in Action at East High School Monday, March 23

March 17, 2015 – Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. announced today he will observe first-hand Tennessee Shakespeare Company teaching and playing its Romeo and Juliet Project with 100 ninth graders in four simultaneous sessions at East High School on Monday, March 23 at 9:00 am.

“On behalf of TSC and our Board of Directors, I am so proud and honored to have Mayor Wharton joining our teachers in the classroom,” said Project creator and TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.  “It was at the Mayor’s urging we created this Project, and I am excited for him to see his challenge come to positive life.”

pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company began its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency in the Memphis area in January.  The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school.  Students are guided by the actors to live the play’s urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict.  Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students’ compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools.  At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project.  That figure represents 34% of all freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

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pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company Kicks Off Fourth Year of Nationally-Recognized ROMEO AND JULIET PROJECT

  • 27 Schools
  • 44 Performances
  • 342 Classroom Visits
  • 4,360 High School Freshmen


(January 15, 2015) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company has begun its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency The Romeo and Juliet Project in the Memphis area this week, starting with Germantown High School and all of its 530 Freshmen.

The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school. Students are guided by the actors to live the play's urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating Freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict. The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools. At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project. That figure represents 34% of all Freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students' compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

Read More

 

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis

logo-ibank

Theatrical Rights Worldwide

First Tenneessee Foundation

logo-natl-endow-arts2 Xfinity

Tennessee Arts Commission


Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy and Dan Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest, Milton T. Schaeffer, The Family of Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Theatrical Rights Worldwide,
and The University of Memphis.

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