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

  • 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