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

  • Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic
  • Eighth Annual Gala
  • The Shakespeare Brunch is Back
  • New Board Members and Officers for 2016-17

pic Flannery OConnorSouthern Literary Salon features
Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic on April 21

Tennessee Shakespeare Company continues its popular Southern Literary Salon on April 21 with one of the more shocking American voices of the 20th Century – Flannery O’Connor.

Presented inside and outdoors at the spacious private home of Drew and Melia Murphy in Germantown (the site of previous Salons on Faulkner and Hemingway), Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic runs 6:00–8:00 pm.

The evening features light Southern food, conversation, music, 45 minutes or so of readings from Ms. O’Connor’s works, and a mixed spirit of the author’s dis-liking (she preferred her coca-cola spiked with coffee).

Tickets are only are $55 and include all of the above.  Seating is very limited.

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Sierra Boggess, Broadway’s Original Little Mermaid, to Headline Eighth Annual Gala

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Broadway’s critically-acclaimed, soaring soprano Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) will headline its Eighth Annual Gala performed at Germantown Performing Arts Center on March 10 at 6:00 pm.

Ms. Boggess will perform her one-hour show, Awakening, as the Gala centerpiece on stage at GPAC.  She will sing from her own Broadway and West End shows, as well as songs from other award-winning musicals.

The Gala benefits TSC’s innovative Education Program.

Sierra Boggess is best known world-wide for re-inventing the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.  Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber calls her “the best Christine certainly.”  She played the role in the Broadway, West End, and the televised 25th Anniversary concert productions of Phantom filmed at London’s Royal Albert Hall (available on DVD).

She made her Broadway debut as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, receiving Drama Desk and Drama League nominations, as well as the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance.  Her additional Broadway credits include the revival of Master Class starring Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You, and School of Rock.

In the West End, Ms. Boggess appeared as Fantine in Les Miserables, and she originated the role of Christine in Love Never Dies, the critically-acclaimed sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, receiving an Olivier Award Nomination for her performance.

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pic the winters tale 2016 Photo: Elliot LaPlante. Kelli Radwanski Photography

Back by popular demand:

The Shakespeare Brunch

Join us for an elegant Sunday brunch, drinks, and an abbreviated Shakespeare reading in a beautiful indoor setting. Acted by some of your favorite TSC players, the reading is preceded by a delicious and thematic buffet with cash bar. Your $40 ticket includes the buffet and reading.

title the winters tale

by William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 20

12:30-3:30 pm
directed by Stephanie Shine
at The Memphis Hunt and Polo Club
Host Members: Margaret and Owen Tabor


Shakespeare’s late romance features a Bohemian rhapsody of near-magical redemption and forgiveness, featuring over 20 professional actors, including Carey Urban, Tony Molina, Darius Wallace, Stephanie Shine, and Dan McCleary.

Attire: cocktail/business casual.

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Three New Board Members and Officers Announced for 2016-17

(November 7, 2016) - Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced its 26-member Board of Directors unanimously approved the elections of three new members and a slate of new Officers to its Executive Committee for FY17.

Melanie
Melanie Stovall Murry

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Michael R. Marshall

Joining the Board for three-year terms are educator Pat Casserly Kelly, lawyer Michael R. Marshall of Evans Petree, and University of Memphis General Counsel Melanie Stovall Murry.

Dr. Owen B. Tabor returns as President. His officers are Ernest G. Kelly, Jr. (Vice President), C. Cato Ealy (Treasurer), and Melia M. Murphy (Secretary). Their terms are renewable after one year.

Rotating to TSC’s Emeritus Founders Board is educator Ruth Dunning, who helped create the Company in 2007-08.

Pat Casserly Kelly, though she still finds herself teaching, is the retired chair of the English and Humanities departments at The Hutchison School and its recipient of the Margaret Wellford Tabor chair for Excellence in Teaching English. In her teaching career, she emphasized the great writers and thinkers of the Western tradition—Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Austen, Dickens, Hardy—as she encouraged her students to become lovers of literature and independent and creative thinkers. Mrs. Kelly was a president of the Shelby-Memphis Council of Teachers of English and was recognized as a Teacher of Excellence by the National Council Teachers of English. She was a recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities study grants, and was chosen by the U.S. Department of State for a teacher exchange program in Eurasia. She served two terms on the vestry of St. Elisabeth’s Church in Raleigh and was the Director of Religious Education there for 15 years. Currently a communicant at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, she serves as a lector, a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a member of the hospitality committee, and is serving her first year of her term on the Chapter of the Cathedral.

Michael R. Marshall is legal counsel at Evans Petree in Memphis. He is the co-leader of the Labor and Employment section and uses his experience in other arenas to reach solutions and resolutions to his clients’ disputes. He has extensive experience in litigating and resolving employment matters and other business-related disputes. He is a frequent speaker on employment-related topics. Mr. Marshall was the lead attorney in a case brought by the Memphis City Schools against the City of Memphis and obtained a $57 million verdict for education funding. Mr. Marshall graduated from the University of California and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association Member, Tennessee Bar Association Member, and Memphis Bar Association member. He is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and Texas. Mr. Marshall has also served as the General Counsel for the Memphis City Schools, and is the general counsel for the Shelby County Emergency Communications District and for Lausanne Collegiate School.

Melanie Stovall Murry is General Counsel at the University of Memphis. Mrs. Murry joined the University in December 2002, serving as associate and assistant counsel. She was also an adjunct faculty member for the doctoral program in higher education administration for the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. She serves as an instructor at the Tennessee Institute for Pre-law. Mrs. Murry graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program and was a 2008 fellow of the New Memphis Institute. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, and has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Louis University.

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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