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Shakespeare & Company

Six-Actor Romeo & Juliet to Tour Northeast

Shakespeare & Company logoShakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., will take William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet to more than 50 schools and theaters throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey this spring in the company's 34th annual Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare.

Kicking off a season of celebration and honoring Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday, Romeo and Juliet will mark Shakespeare & Company's first production of 2014. The general public is invited to performances at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse on Feb. 26, March 28, and April 10, 11, and 17, and at The Rogers Center at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., on Feb. 27 and March 27.

For more information about the Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare and how to bring it to your school, or to purchase tickets for a public venue, contact School Programs Manager Alexandra Lincoln at 413-637-1199, ext. 131 or alincoln@shakespeare.org.

Shakespeare & Company’s Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare has proven to be one of the Company Education program’s most successful and popular programs, with new schools added annually to the roster of participants. The Northeast Regional Tour is one of the Company’s longest-running Education programs, reaching more than 25,000 students and teachers every year.

This production is directed by Jonathan Croy. “It’s no mystery that Romeo and Juliet has continued to be so popular over the years," he said in a press release. "The tragic elements of the play still move us, the poetry is absolutely delicious, the fights are exciting, and even the jokes are still funny. But more than that, Shakespeare has given us a rich landscape of the human condition—the relationships between families, the power of friendship, the agony and ecstasy of love, the consequences of impulsive acts, the emergence of self-image—and has done so with such clarity that all of these elements are really familiar to us. It’s a 422-year-old modern play.”

This fast-paced 90-minute production uses a six-member cast who take on multiple roles, placing the focus on a clear and powerful delivery of Shakespeare’s text. The cast includes Education Artists Caroline Calkins, Marcus Kearns, Luke Reed, Kaileela Hobby, Gregory Boover, and Conor Moroney.

“The rehearsal process so far has been exhilarating. Jonathan Croy creates a perfect space for us to play in that holds true to the values of the Company and digs deep into how this play resonates with the cast,” Kearns, who plays Romeo, said in the release. “I am really looking forward to spending my next few months with such a talented group of artists. I also can't wait to perform at Taconic Hills High School where Caroline and I have directed the Fall Festival the past two years.”

Three different interactive workshops, as well as a post-show forum, are available to audiences in conjunction with the tour of Romeo and Juliet. Through Workshops in Performance, students have an opportunity to become actors themselves as they create their own Shakespeare performances. Another interactive workshop is The Actor, The Audience and Shakespeare, which allows students to become directors. In this workshop, the Tour actors perform short scenes and invite students to suggest other ways the scenes might be played. Students gain firsthand experience about what it means to rehearse a scene and learn there is no one “right way” to perform a play. The third workshop, calledA Rose by Any Other Name, is a 45-minute “living study guide” that takes a look at Romeo and Juliet from many angles—the themes, characters, events, and relationships within the play, as well as its historical context. Weaving information together with excerpts from the play, it is a delightful ride that offers some perspective on one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies.

“After a performance, we hold a postshow forum, and we get to hear about the students’ experience watching the play. Sometimes this leads into revealing discussions about the story, its themes, and problems,” returning Touractress Caroline Calkins, who plays Juliet, said in the release. “We get to hear what parts of the story students are connecting to, what’s sparking their imaginations or aligning with their own experience as people in the world. So, as an actor, I am constantly being challenged to think about the play and why it is an important story to tell.”

For the 11th consecutive year, the Northeast Regional Tour is supported by a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through Arts Midwest, Shakespeare in American Communities initiative, administrated by NEA’s national program. Shakespeare in American Communities, which began in 2003, brings Shakespeare productions and related educational activities to more than 150 small- and mid-sized communities in 50 states. The initiative was created to give middle and high school students throughout America the opportunity to experience professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays. The grant enables economically and geographically underserved schools to bring the to their community at a greatly reduced cost.  For more information about Shakespeare in American Communities, please visit www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org.

Shakespeare & Company’s award-winning Education Program is one of the most extensive theatre-in-education programs in the Northeast, and has reached over a million students since 1978 with innovative performances, workshops, and residencies including The Northeast Regional of Shakespeare, the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Young Company, Riotous Youth, Shakespeare in the Courts (with the Berkshire Juvenile Court), Shakespeare in Our Schools: Workshops for Teachers and Actors, and the National Institute on Teaching Shakespeare, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

February 22, 2014

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