The National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest Award Tennessee Shakespeare Company with Prestigious Shakespeare in American Communities Grant for Second Year

(Memphis, TN; July 7, 2014) –  Arts Midwest has announced that Tennessee Shakespeare Company is one of just 40 theatre companies in the United States to receive its prestigious Shakespeare in American Communities grant for TSC's innovative Romeo and Juliet Project. This is the second consecutive year TSC has been awarded the grant as the youngest organization of the 40 theatres selected.

The grant is for $25,000, which TSC must match through private donations.

These awards mark the twelfth consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The program introduces middle and high school students to the power of live theatre and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare. Since the program's inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has benefitted more than 2.25 million individuals, including 1.9 million students, with live performances and educational activities.

Among the other 39 theatre companies selected for 2014-15: American Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Barter Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Classic Stage Company, Folger Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. A full list of recipients may be found at www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org.

TSC is being awarded the matching grant again this year to continue its life-changing, grade-raising Romeo and Juliet Project in five high schools in Memphis, four of which are Title One schools: Bartlett, Booker T. Washington, Carver, Kirby, and Ridgeway.

The Project, designed and managed by TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine, will visit entire ninth-grade classes in all five schools a total of four times, including three progressive playshops culminating in an interactive, intimate, in-school performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The production will highlight the pivotal decisions made in the play by both children and adults that lead to the deaths of five extraordinary teenagers – decisions that Memphis adults and teens can change in their own lives today to help shift the culture of violence in our community.

TSC's Teaching Actors and students are challenged to look past the beautified veil of romantic love often associated with the play. The play's prologue communicates something very different: children will die, and the audience will witness how each character chooses actions that permit it. The students are further challenged to see themselves in the story-telling, and afterwards, to articulate for themselves how they could help change this same story in their own lives.

Last season, the The Romeo and Juliet Project was immersed in four schools with an additional 19 schools participating in the full production of the play and talk-back. Nearly 450 student activities were achieved through the Project last season, exceeding 6,300 student interactions.
This year, the production of Romeo and Juliet will play inside each participating school, and it also will be available for booking by all schools in Shelby County. To book the touring production of Romeo and Juliet, please call TSC's Education Program manager Slade Kyle at (901) 759-0620.

"The impact of the performance of Romeo and Juliet on students has been life-saving," says Shine. "Even more important than falling in love with Shakespeare, live theatre, or making better grades - this impact, as was the original function of theatre, is humanitarian. Participating students realize that they have the ability to improve each others' lives. This is what gives The Romeo and Juliet Project profound meaning in our community."

Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.

National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. For more information, visit arts.gov.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional 501(c)(3) theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare as well as classical and Southern writers, and provides year-round educational and training programming. Now in its seventh season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company seeks to sustain a Mid-South 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. Highlights from TSC's 2013-14 Season:

  • The National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest awarded TSC its first $25,000 matching grant for our innovative Romeo and Juliet Project.
  • TSC programmed nearly 13,000 student interactions in the Memphis area, across Tennessee, and in five other southern states with its education outreach and professional productions. Programming included a TSC-created touring show titled Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll, matinees and post-show community discussions of teen violence around Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Romeo and Juliet Project in primarily Title One schools, 53 in-school playshops, 82 days of in-school residencies, and a TSC-created interactive Study Guide for The Taming of the Shrew.
  • TSC produced five productions for over 6,000 audience members, 34% of whom were Memphis area students under 18 years of age.
  • TSC launched the Tuesday Literary Salon as part of our Southern Exposure Series.
  • TSC welcomed new collaborators, partners, and generous sponsors Boyle Investment Company, Independent Bank, International Paper, Shelby County Schools, and Target Stores.
  • TSC broke all education program fundraising records with its Fifth Annual Gala in February, which featured one of the great gentlemen and talents of Broadway, Howard McGillin (Phantom of the Opera, The Mystery of Edwin Drood).
  • Transitioned to a new, modern, larger administrative office within the Shops at Forest Hill village (3092 Village Shops Drive, Germantown, TN 38138).

News

  • New Permanent Year-Round Home for TSC
  • New Germantown Municipal School District Partnership
  • New Company d and Memphis VA Partnerships
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We have Purchased the Former Ballet Memphis Property to Create the State’s First Permanent, Year-Round Home for Professional Shakespeare Performance, Education, and Training in Memphis

pic newhome tsc2017(August 31) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced it has purchased the former facility and property of Ballet Memphis located at 7950 Trinity Road in Memphis as its first, permanent home. 

The announcement was made by Dan McCleary, the company’s founder and Producing Artistic Director; Owen B. Tabor, the company’s Board President for the past six years; and E. Frank Bluestein, the company’s founding Executive Director.

With this acquisition, Tennessee Shakespeare Company is preparing to create the first and only permanent, year-round home for professional Shakespeare performance, education, and training in the state of Tennessee.

TSC purchased the 18,484 square foot facility outright from Ballet Memphis for $1,900,000.  There is no mortgage. 

TSC, now beginning its tenth anniversary season, expects to begin interior renovation this year and be completed in Spring 2018.

The renovation will focus on modifying existing dance studios into a state-of-the-art, professional, flexible theatre for seating up to 200 patrons, as well as a spacious Education Wing.  The public lobby, restrooms, and support areas for the theatre also will be modified.

Centrally located to all of Shelby County just north of Walnut Grove Road, between Germantown Road and the northeast corner of Shelby Farms Park, the unique glass-and-steel facility will house all of TSC’s operations under one roof:  performances, training, education, administrative offices, storage, costume shop, scene shop, and commercial kitchen.  The facility was constructed in 1998, and an addition was built in 2012.  It affords parking for nearly 70 cars.

TSC and Ballet Memphis, longtime arts colleagues whose artistic staffs have collaborated over the years, entered into a Purchase & Sale Agreement in late June.  The sale represents one Memphis not-for-profit arts organization selling to another for re-use of a special purpose building.  TSC’s agent was W. Cary Whitehead III of Boyle Investment Company.

For the last nine years, TSC has created site-specific/environmental Shakespeare and classical productions, both indoors and outside, throughout Shelby County, partnering with long-time friends Dixon Gallery & Gardens, the University of Memphis, St. George’s Church, Shelby Farms Park, Germantown City Hall, Poplar Pike Playhouse, Hutchison School, and Germantown Performing Arts Center.

“This is an important moment in Memphis performing arts,” said Dr. Tabor.  “We have researched more than 50 sites in the last few years, and the former Ballet property is perfect for our needs and for what our audiences say they would like.  The Ballet’s new home in Overton Square is so impressive, and they have been wonderful to work with during this transaction.  We wish them tremendous success.  We appreciate that this special building is the launch pad for exciting futures for two important arts groups in Memphis.

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Announcing a New, Multi-Year Partnership with the Germantown Municipal School District for Cutting-Edge Classical Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

pic germantown partnership1Tennessee Shakespeare Company and the Germantown Municipal School District today announced a unique, multi-year education partnership that will bring immersive, cutting-edge Shakespeare curriculum to life for every student in grades five, seven, and nine.

Starting with this school year, all GMSD fifth and seventh grade students will participate in an introductory, immersive playshop to prepare and excite them for experiencing a full, live performance of TSC’s self-created production of Shakes, Rattle, and Roll.  The show pays tribute to our hometown heritage, creatively linking the signature music of Memphis to the works of Shakespeare that could have inspired them.

All ninth grade students will be treated to TSC’s nationally-acclaimed Romeo and Juliet Project, a four-part interactive residency that concludes with an intimate and riveting live performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The Project, originally launched at Germantown High School seven years ago and now operating in many Shelby County Schools, transforms classrooms into playing spaces to change students' expectations and reception of the material. The residency begins with three sessions that engage the students in playing three different parts of the play.  The positive impact on the students’ grades, compassion level, engagement in continued exploration of classical texts, and their rehearsed ability to walk away from potentially life-threatening situations in their own lives has proven quantifiable and remarkable in the scores of schools in which TSC has taught over the past eight years. 

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New, Exciting TSC Partnerships with Company d and the Memphis VA, and Expanding Programs with Jail East and Hope Academy

“TSC gives them models to express their feelings, which they probably have never done.  For maybe the first time in their lives, they think about the world around them and their role in the community.”

- Joyce Anderson, Juvenile Manager, Shelby County Sheriff's Office

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Hope Academy residency participants

We are thrilled to announce new partnerships between TSC and Company d and the Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Association.  Also this month (August), we are happily expanding our Shakespeare programs for adjudicated youth at both Jail East and Hope Academy.

TSC is spending August in residence with Company d.  Nationally recognized, Company d is a dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters.  Founded in 2001, Company d is committed to inspire, empower, and teach individuals with Down syndrome who have an inherent aptitude for the performing arts.

TSC Education Manager Carmen-maria Mandley and TSC Education artists guide participants through the tumultuous world of Romeo and Juliet.  Using movement and text, the dancers are immersed in Shakespeare's images and encouraged to discover their personal connection with the characters of the play.

"Company d dancers are having a dynamic experience with TSC this week,” says Winters, Company d founder and Artistic Director.  “The play and its language are being brought to life with interactive methods.  The partnership with Tennessee Shakespeare Company is the first partnership with a theatre company in this region.  I am so excited about this new and unique experience for individuals with Down syndrome, which will enrich artistic growth and expand cultural literacy skills."

Also in August, TSC begins working with veterans at the Memphis VA Medical Association. This program brings together service veterans with theatre practitioners to use the plays of Shakespeare in addressing combat-related traumatic and re-integration issues. The model, created by the Feast of Crispian Project in Milwaukee, WI, was created to strengthen the personal psychological resources available to service veterans - especially those with post-deployment health issues - through the practice and skills of theatre combined with the timeless themes and imagistic language of Shakespeare.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
presents its first Mainstage production of madcap
The Comedy of Errors

in partnership with the University of Memphis’
Department of Theatre & Dance
June 8-18

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Joey Shaw (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Blake Currie (Dromio of Syracuse).

Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents William Shakespeare’s madcap, joyous The Comedy of Errors on the U of M’s Theatre Mainstage from June 8-18.

Featuring a professional cast of actor-musicians and directed by Shakespeare & Company co-founder Tony Simotes, the production sets Shakespeare’s shortest, wildest play in the exotic and dangerous Greece of 1600.

The story features two sets of identical twins, who, along with their parents, were separated shortly after birth on the high seas.  Now, more than 20 years later, Antipholus (the master) and Dromio (his servant) come to a new land that is hostile to foreigners.  Little do they know, their father, chasing after them, is imprisoned and faces execution at sunset for crossing the border unless he can find someone to pay his bail.  And little do they know, their identical twin brothers live here!  It makes for the funniest, most bizarre day in the country until a final familial revelation changes everyone’s lives forever.

Returning to TSC as the Antipholus twins are Joey Shaw (Romeo; King in All’s Well That Ends Well; Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Colton Swibold (title role in Henry V last year).  Returning as the clowning Dromio servants are Nic Picou and Blake Currie (both from Henry V).

Making her TSC debut as Antipholus’ wife Adrianna is U of M alum Claire Hayner, and returning to play her sister Luciana is Rachel Brun (Juliet; Lady Anne in Richard III; Antonio in Twelfth Night; Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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Save the Date for Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We are saving a table for YOU to join us for our 10th Anniversary Season Gala!  Mark your calendar now for Saturday, April 7, 2018, when we bring you a celebratory evening of performance and dinner in the beautiful ballroom of the Memphis Hilton.

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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