Shakespeare & Company to Tour ROMEO AND JULIET this Spring

Shakespeare & Company to Tour ROMEO AND JULIET this Spring

Shakespeare & Company has announced its 34th annual Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare, which will bring the beloved romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet to over 50 schools and theatres throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey this spring.

The general public is invited to performances of this heart-stirring play at Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer Playhouse on February 26, March 28 and April 10, 11 and 17, and at The Rogers Center at Merrimack College in North Andover, MA on February 27 and March 27. Kicking off a season of celebration and honoring Shakespeare's 450th Birthday, Romeo and Juliet will mark Shakespeare & Company first production of 2014! 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) 637-119 ext. 131 or alincoln@shakespeare.org.

Shakespeare & Company's Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare has proven to be one of the 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 over 25,000 students and teachers every year.

"It's no mystery that Romeo and Juliet has continued to be so popular over the years. 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," says Director Jonathan Croy. "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 four hundred and twenty-two-year-old modern play."

Shakespeare & Company's tour of Romeo and Juliet is a fast-paced 90-minute production featuring 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," says actor Marcus Kearns, who plays Romeo. "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 allow 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 first-hand experience about what it means to rehearse a scene and learn there is no one "right way" to perform a play. The third workshop, called A 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 post show 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," says returning Tour actress Caroline Calkins, who plays Juliet. "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 eleventh consecutive year, the Northeast Regional Tour is generously 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 production 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.

Guided by Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman and Associate Director of Education Jenna Ware, the Education Program received the Commonwealth Award, the highest award for excellence in the arts, sciences, and humanities given by the state of Massachusetts. It was also the subject of the two-year study by Harvard University's Graduate School of Education (Project Zero), which recommended national replication. The Education program has been identified by the Arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities as a Champion of Change. Most recently recognized by a 2013 Massachusetts House of Representatives Resolution, the Education program has been identified by the Arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities as a Champion of Change.

Shakespeare & Company's education programs are supported in part by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and it's Youth Reach Initiative, the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, Deborah and Bill Ryan, Jeffrey Konowitch and Wendy Laurin, Berkshire Life Insurance Co., A Guardian Corporation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, The Charles Hall Foundation, The Red Lion Inn, Country Curtains, Berkshire Bank, the Cultural Councils of Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, New Marlboro, North Andover, Pittsfield, Sheffield, Springfield, Stockbridge and Richmond, and a coalition of businesses, families, and individuals.

The National Endowment for the Arts' mission is to enrich our nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country. Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is an independent agency of the federal government and is the largest annual funder of the arts. Since its founding, it has awarded more than 120,000 grants in all 50 states and the six U.S. jurisdictions.

Arts Midwest administers the NEA's Shakespeare for a New Generation initiative. Arts Midwest, based in Minneapolis, connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, enabling individuals and families throughout America's heartland to share in and to enjoy the arts and cultures of the Midwest and the world.

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