The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison will host teachers and students in grades 5–12 from 14 schools across the state for the sixth annual Shakesperience:NJ for two days highlighting and celebrating the study of Shakespeare through performance May 7–8 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre.
The initiative offers an opportunity for middle and high school students to spend an entire day sharing the excitement of Shakespeare as actors and audience members. Each group of students will appear on the Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre to present a 20-minute Shakespeare scene to an audience of their peers, teachers, parents, and professional actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, who will serve as commentators and adjudicators.
Shakesperience:NJ is the product of a partnership between The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The Folger Festivals Project was launched in 1986 as a national initiative to extend the outreach of the Library's teaching philosophy and to inspire student Shakespeare festivals across the nation. In 2007, the Folger Shakespeare Library chose the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey to establish the annual festival for the state.
The schools scheduled to participate in this year's two-day Shakesperience:NJ festival are Abraham Lincoln High School Leadership Academy in Jersey City; Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy in Elizabeth; Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield; Hillsborough Middle School in Hillsborough; Kent Place School in Summit; Lacordaire Academy in Upper Montclair; Little Way Homeschool Co-op in Berkley Heights; Madison Junior School in Madison; Memorial High School in West New York; Montville Township High School in Montville; Orange Preparatory Academy in Orange; Purnell School in Pottersville; and Trinity Christian School in Montville.
Shakesperience:NJ represents a step toward the creation of a national model for statewide student Shakespeare festivals based on the highly successful student Shakespeare festival at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The institutions partnering to launch Shakesperience:NJ share a common mission of promoting the teaching of Shakespeare through performance, which has long been recognized to be the most effective and exciting way to introduce young people to Shakespeare's plays. Performance-based instruction heightens student interest and increases creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Through numerous classes and workshops with teachers and students, this philosophy has been introduced in schools throughout New Jersey. The creation of a statewide student festival is intended to showcase the results of this performance-based learning, and to encourage more schools and teachers to make performance a key component of the language arts classroom.
The program enables young people to come together with their peers from diverse backgrounds to celebrate their shared achievements in the study of English literature. Students will have the option of receiving feedback from professional commentators, but the focus of each day is on Shakespeare's works and the creativity and variety of student interpretations.
In addition to the student performances, each day will include entertaining educational interludes, such as Shakespeare trivia games and swordplay demonstrations conducted by a master of revels and professional guest artists. For more information about Shakesperience:NJ, call 973-408-3980.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. Serving 100,000 adults and children annually, it is New Jersey's only professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare's canon and other world classics. Through its productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.
May 2, 2012