Tennessee Shakespeare Company brings Shakespeare to life for regional students
ROMEO AND JULIET on tour in the Mid-South, Feb. 13-27
Memphis, Tenn. (February 7, 2012) - - - Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South's professional, classical theatre, will launch its 2012 Mid-South Schools Tour in February, bringing Romeo and Juliet alive for students in two states. The tour runs from February 13-27, and will visit schools around the metropolitan Memphis area as well in Jackson, Tenn., and Greenville, Miss.
Currently, more than 1,600 students are scheduled to see the six-actor production, which is being remounted with most of the cast from last year's sold-out run at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Each performance also includes a post-show talkback between students and the cast as well as an interactive, online study guide. Stephanie Shine, education director for Tennessee Shakespeare Company, is the show's director.
The professional cast includes the return of New York City-based Wolfe Coleman as Romeo, as well as Michael Khanlarian, Slade Kyle, Matthew Crewse, and Shaleen Cholera. Seattle-based Allison Standley makes her Tennessee Shakespeare debut as Juliet.
There are several in-school openings still available for booking. To reserve a performance for your students, please call Slade Kyle, education manager, at 901-759-0620.
This tour marks the second year that Tennessee Shakespeare has taken its education program directly to area schools, in keeping with the company's mission to move the arts closer to the center of every child's learning experience.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most performed plays, and its many adaptations have made it one of the most enduring. With its place in almost every school's freshman curriculum, it's a natural choice for Tennessee Shakespeare to tour.
"Our professional season and our schools tour are a direct reflection of what our audiences want to see, and much of that input was from the students," said Dan McCleary, producing artistic director. "We will teach our 100,000th student by June this year, and we have discovered with Shakespeare in the classroom that there is no challenge too great for children as they approach his stories and characters on their own terms and are given the opportunity to ‘play' with it. Children learn with play, and Shakespeare should be played as well as read.
"One reason our school tours are so popular is that we bring Shakespeare out from behind the desk; we make it fun and interactive. We don't give answers; we allow the joy of discovery and surprise to be the teachers. We help by framing the experience."
According to the College Board's "2010 College Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report," students who take four years of art and music classes while in high school score 102 points higher on their SATs than students who only took a semester or less.
Teachers and students alike are enthusiastic supporters of the program, and many have booked each year. The tour performs to homeschool groups as well as public and independent schools.
"I was captivated. I understood what you said," said Caroline King, a student at St. Francis Catholic School, after the 2011 schools tour. "Your emotions and expressions touched me. I thought Shakespeare's plays would be boring but after seeing Romeo and Juliet, I can tell they're not.
"Watching it totally changed my perspective."
In addition to the scheduled Romeo and Juliet tour, Tennessee Shakespeare Company also offers another production, "The Rebel Shakespeare and His Women," written and directed by Shine. This production, exploring the life and works for William Shakespeare through the development of his female characters, is available outside of the set tour dates.
As part of its education outreach, Tennessee Shakespeare also offers year-round playshops and school residencies. Playshops allow students to experience Shakespeare as the Elizabethans did-with dancing, fighting, music, collaboration, and word play. For schools looking for more in-depth work than a master class or a workshop, Tennessee Shakespeare offers multi-session residency programs that focus on one specific Elizabethan discipline or Shakespeare theme or story.
"For the residencies, we'll work with individual schools (or teachers) to craft the curriculum and determine the number of sessions and needed teaching artists," said Kyle.
About Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional 501(c)3 theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare seasonally outdoors in rotating repertory; performs classical and Southern writers seasonally indoors and outdoors through the Southern Exposure series; and provides year-round educational and training programming. Tennessee Shakespeare Company seeks to create and sustain a classical theatre that both nurtures artists and encourages audiences to exaltation, curiosity, and wonderment; be a center for the community dedicated to re-discovering faith in life by increasing awareness of reality and expanding imagination through an emphasis on the performance, education, and training of William Shakespeare's works.