Shakespeare & Company's Summer Training Institute in Full Swing

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Shakespeare & Company's Summer Training Institute in Full Swing

For the second consecutive year actors from around the globe have joined Shakespeare & Company's Summer Training Institute through collaboration with Youth Bridge Global. Following in the footsteps of Ilija Pujic a Bosnian actor last year, three young actors from Kilgali, Rwanda, are at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, to work with their American counterparts in this exciting program.

The rigorous schedule of the Summer Training Institute provides participants with master classes from the Company's leading actors and teachers, integrating a full range of disciplines including clown, stage fight, rhetoric, and dance, arming actors with a broad skill set and preparing them for life in the professional theatre world. The Institute trains their voices and bodies with a daily regimen of demanding classes. It seeks to meet the needs of young actors who desire to break through that which keeps them from realizing their full abilities and achieve new creative heights by allowing each participant to delve deep into his or her own imagination, intellect and emotions.

Youth Bridge Global promotes reconciliation and mutual understanding across the sometimes dangerous ethnic and religious divides that threaten peace in a region through powerful educational and cultural productions cast with students from the local communities. A production in Mostar, for example, featured a Muslim Romeo and a Croat Juliet, forging a number of inter-ethnic friendships and generating immense communal support in a city divided by deep-seated nationalism.

This year, the collaboration with Youth Bridge brings 3 students from Rwanda to the Summer Training Institute at Shakespeare & Company; in 2013, a young Mostarian actor from Bosnia attended "the world-famous acting school at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox" and writes of his attending:"This is a life journey in which you explore your own emotions, push your boundaries and do things you didn't ever think you'd be able to do. For the first time I connected with myself and got to know who I am and what I am worth. Being a war child in Bosnia and Herzegovina, masking emotions was a skill that I carefully crafted to protect me from my surroundings. At Shakespeare & Company, it was liberating. For the first time I was breathing and feeling life and I could sense deeply what I had been missing. I felt all this love around me and all this love that I'm capable of giving. I expanded my emotional depth and by that I improved myself as an actor and a person."

Running at Shakespeare & Company's 70 Kemble Street property in Lenox, MA, now through June 21, the Institute is currently host to 23 participants aged 18-26. The faculty is led by Director of Training Dennis Krausnick and includes Master Teachers of text, voice, movement, dance, fight and clown including Jason Asprey, Sarah Barker, Karen Beaumont, Kevin G. Coleman, Dave Demke, Susan Dibble, Elizabeth Ingram, Tori Rhoades, and Doug Seldin. Last year's participant goes on to say, "Shakespeare & Company's faculty bring Shakespeare closer to you, closer to your everyday life and show you all the three-dimensional characters who are in his plays. They make you feel comfortable with his words, and they introduce you to the plot as if it is happening right now in the world you perceive. The characters in the text become so full of bursting emotions of love and joy, pain and suffering, violence and compassion that it's hard not to react to their emotions. The professors are there with you, and just for you, lending you a hand of support and kindness, willing to teach you anything you want to know. There is an enormous amount of love put into their work with you and into their own work. You can feel it with every word they say."

For more information about Shakespeare & Company's Center For Actor Training call the Training Office at 413-637-1199 x114, email training@shakespeare.org or visit Shakespeare.org/training.

For more information about Youth Bridge Global, visit ybglobal.org.

Ilija Pujic, who had played in The Tempest and As You Like It with Youth Bridge Global, continues regarding his time in the Institute: " I gained a deep insight into the meaning of theatre. Theatre is a truth teller, a keeper of emotions, a wise spokesman. Theatre shows our emotions through the lives of so many wonderful characters in whom we can recognize ourselves. In so doing, it sends a message for everyone to hear. We live in world where it is scary to show what you feel. It is a scary to open yourself to others. Seeing some incredible plays at Shakespeare & Company made me think about these emotions and why I haven't seen them before. I experienced an epiphany when I let myself feel everything there is to feel inside me and around me. Opening myself made me realize who I am and what am I missing by not feeling all these emotions. I want to do theatre back home in Bosnia and Herzegovina because there are lots of stories to be told, lots of emotions to be shown, lots of messages to be sent, and lots of people to be touched. Theatre should bring hope to our lives and teach us how to live them more fully.

"Friendships made [at Shakespeare & Company] are something special. All the student actors work closely and you have time to know each other like you never knew anyone before. You see each other's strengths and vulnerabilities and you help each other. This is an environment in which your problems don't fall just on your back but also on the backs of people who are willing to support you. Participants relish the program and they work hard to bring out the best in themselves and others. In that way, participants create a wonderful working environment that is not competitive but which pushes each one to do their best. Everyone appreciates each other's progress and that's what makes this program special. The support of friends creates strong bonds between actors that will endure."

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