Responses to OTHELLO
From our Student Matinees:
I don’t want my comments to seem hyperbolic—but my students and I feel that this was the richest literary experience we have ever had. Thanks to everyone for making this a wonderful experience for us. Most of my students had never seen a live production of a Shakespearean play. We sat for over two hours, and not a single student wiggled or slept or took their eyes off the actors. They loved the interactive nature of the show. Thanks to the actors for all their hard work and for making Othello come alive right before our very eyes. This was definitely a highlight for the 30 A.P English students’ senior year—mine too!!
- Julia Goodwin, Bartlett HS
My students had an outstanding experience with Othello. I highly recommend Tennessee Shakespeare and it’s educational experiences, and we will participate again. Really, I hate to “gush,” but this was a most positive experience for us. It was orderly and very professional. We will work with Tennessee Shakespeare again!
- Shari Ray, St Mary’s Episcopal School
This is the 2nd time I have taken students to experience the incredible performances of the TN Shakespeare Company. We saw Julius Caesar last year and the girls were wowed to say the least. The Othello performance was again an experience for them. The girls were on the edge of their seats. I think that I enjoyed watching the students as much as I enjoyed watching the performers. It is imperative that students are given good 1st experiences with Shakespeare. So much of the time they are turned off by having to "read only" the plays or they see less than stellar performances. My girls were entranced and delighted and asking for more. They want to see Romeo and Juliet under the stars and try a little of their own in next semester's advanced drama class. Thank you!
- Ann Lane Neal, Director of Theatre Arts, St. Agnes Academy
I truly want to thank the Tennessee Shakespeare Company for a marvelous experience that I will never forget. I had once heard of the Shakespeare piece, Othello, but never had I read it or seen it performed. I have been to many performances in my young lifetime, but I have never been to one that drew me in to the point where I felt that I was actually a part of what was going on, and never have my emotions flared up that high during a performance. Having the actors interact with the audience was also a new element for me, but it was also quite enjoyable. It was positively evident that the actors gave 100% throughout the entire performance. I would most definitely go to see another performance put on by the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.
From the very beginning of the performance, I was on the edge of my seat, anticipating what was to happen next. You can say that this level of excitement was brought on by the fact that I had never seen the play before, but any play, no matter how it was written, can either turn out to be a “snooze fest” or a “holding on to the end of your seat” kind of experience. The determining factor of the kind of experience you will have rests upon the open mind of the audience, and the commitment of the actors. Shakespearian plays are hard to interpret and, in the case of the actors, hard to perform. I feel that these actors did an outstanding job of performing the play to where the audience was able to follow along, while at the same time, not forgetting the play’s origin and losing touch of the original idea created by Shakespeare.
The actor-audience relationship witnessed and experienced throughout the performance was truly the icing on the cake. You typically see performances done in that manner when the audience consists of younger children, not high school students. However in this case, I believe that the actor-audience interaction was more than appropriate. Had this style not been incorporated into the performance, a great deal of the audience would not have been able to grasp the concept of the play, nor have experienced that high level of enjoyment. After the performance was over, the actors and director answered a few of the audience members’ questions. Although this can be done by many of theatre companies, each actor, and the director, had a warm and welcoming vibe to them.
The Tennessee Shakespeare Company did an outstanding job in producing Othello. Forever will I remember and be grateful for my experience. It shall be something that I cherish and take with me for the rest of my life. Overall, I would rate the entire ensemble, from the time I took my seat for the performance, until the time I returned to school, a perfect 10. I don’t believe there could be any performing arts company that could satisfy my love for the arts any better than the Tennessee Shakespeare Company.
- Caitlyn Knot, 11th Grade, Middle College High
Beautifully acted and staged, my thanks to TSC for providing my students with a truly quality opportunity.
- Keith Salter, Collierville HS
First, please let me extend my greatest thanks to your company and cast for the amazing production today. My class (5th graders between the ages of 9 to 10), my parent chaperones, and I enjoyed every aspect of the performance. Thank you again for one of the best field trip experiences my students have had.
- Christa Fitzgibbon, CLUE Teacher, Willow Oaks Elementary
It was a wonderful production, and my students couldn't stop talking about it on the way to lunch, at lunch, and even on the way back to school. Ah, the beauty and relevance of Shakespeare! Thanks again for the actors who came early to work with my class and for the excellent and affordable production!
Thank you so much for the experience. We loved the play, and many of my students, who had expressed trepidation in understanding Shakespeare, were surprised to find that they not only understood but also enjoyed the play. I can't wait for the next opportunity! Romeo and Juliet in the garden - I'm there!
- Janelle Phipps, Harding Academy
Thank you for another great show. The actors did a marvelous job and we appreciate what TSC adds to our community!
- Barry Gilmore, Hutchison School
You always impress us you’re your professionalism and quality of performance!!!! Please keep inviting us to participate!
- Jenny Hall, Millington CHS
We loved the show and the students who got to come are ready to start reading it in class. It was a great performance!!!
- Ashly Hood, Raleigh Egypt HS
Responses to JULIUS CAESAR
From our Adult Audiences:
“Casts new light on this familiar tale. It is fresh and innovative without being contrived, and those who think they know the play will come away having experienced something compellingly different. First-rate acting, music, and dance combine for a must-see evening of theater.”
- John Reed
“I thoroughly enjoyed the production. It kept my mind sharp following one person in more than one role, and I enjoyed that. JULIUS CAESAR is not to be missed.”
- Andrew Pouncey, Assistant City Administrator, City of Germantown
“I was absolutely mesmerized, beginning with the cast introductions that went into a tableau – the technique suggested to me this was not going to be the same old same old. The all-woman cast and the accompanying revision of text was . . . how might I say…mind-blowing. Extremely cool and very exciting. The choreography was a phenomenal addition. The death scene was a ritual art and not murder. The acting was superb. In sum, you now have a loyal follower of Tennessee Shakespeare Company. Thanks very much for your excellent performance.”
- Robert P. Connolly, PhD, Director, C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa
“This is by far my favorite of your three productions--the environment was perfect and I love it when the cast is always hanging around on stage, switching parts with small costume adjustments. Of course the cast was amazing and the cellist (Iren Zombor) exquisite. Congratulations!”
- Jonathan RA Devin, Freelance writer
“A virtually perfect time at the theatre! The phenomenal cast and director captured every nuance of the language, and the movement stunningly enriched the language and the classic story! What a treasure to witness an ensemble fulfill all the promise and expectations of a professional performance!”
- Billy Pullen, English Teacher, Germantown High School
From the Teachers:
“Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s student matinee series is an incredibly enriching experience for students of all ages and disciplines. TSC’s innovative staging and interpretation reawakens a classical text for a contemporary audience without ever diminishing the importance of the language. What was planned to be a ten-minute wrap-up session in my classroom following the performance evolved into an hour-long discussion focusing on the play's themes, the various production elements, the director's vision, use of movement and choreography, and so much more. Each student contributed to this vibrant and thoughtful discussion with such enthusiasm and energy. It was one of those moments you long for as a teacher: passionate discussion and debate employing all of the analytical and performance skills we have developed throughout the year.”
- Scott Duff, Director of Theatre Arts, St. George’s Independent School
“The experience could not have been better, especially being the only girls in an audience full of MUS boys. The different reaction (boys/girls) was of great interest to me as an educator. The St. Agnes girls thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wanted to talk immediately about how their attitudes toward these characters changed drastically because their words were spoken by women. Thank you for the experience.”
- Ann Neal, Director of Theatre Arts, St. Agnes Academy
“The kids had a blast! They were talking about it today. They were amazed at how easily they understood Shakespeare's language and how clearly you all portrayed your roles.”
- Joan Laney, English Teacher, Memphis-Central High School
“This was a wonderful production and a great opportunity for the students. Thank you for providing such a wonderful learning experience. All teachers involved enjoyed it as well, and we plan on definitely attending future productions and instilling a love of Shakespeare and interest in drama/acting in even more students.”
- Chris Hudson, 10th grade English Teacher, Arlington High School
“One student I spoke to this morning described how much clearer the story was to him now than it was when he read it in class.”
- Ted Horrell, Principal, Millington Central High School
“The students felt a part of the production!”
- Karen Cooperman, Teacher, Grahmwood Elementary
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___Responses to Previous TSC Productions___
I wish to congratulate the newly formed Tennessee Shakespeare Company for their splendid inaugural season. I teach at Cordova Middle School where I have always included Shakespeare in my Language Arts Classes, bemoaning the absence of live performances to show students. As the new Drama/Creative Writing teacher at my school I found out early about Dan McCleary and his artistic aspirations, and we were one of the first schools to sign up for a field trip. The TSC not only engaged my disparate group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, they enchanted most and enthralled a few, which is saying a lot.
This is the best thing to happen to the local arts scene in recent memory. I will be taking as many kids as I can to this top-notch production company's future efforts.
Thanks to all the sponsors and support groups who made this possible.
Cordova Middle School