Lee Anne Mathews Named Maryville University Shakespeare Teacher of the Year

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Lee Anne Mathews Named Maryville University Shakespeare Teacher of the Year

Lee Anne Mathews, Director of Theater at Crossroads College Preparatory School has been selected as the Maryville University Shakespeare Teacher of the Year, it was announced today by Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and Catherine Bear, Dean of the School of Education at Maryville University. This is the first year Maryville University has sponsored the award which has recognized an outstanding teacher of Shakespeare since 2011.

"Shakespeare Festival St. Louis continues to work with local teachers to educate our students and ignite their interest in one of the world's greatest literary playwrights," said Bear. "The Festival's work continues to set the standard among educators throughout Missouri and Illinois."

"We are thrilled to partner with Maryville University to recognize innovative theater teachers throughout Missouri and Illinois," said Dildine. "Our In the Schools programming is such an important part of our work in educating our students in the works of this great playwright, and Lee Anne serves as a terrific example of the continued relevance and power of Shakespeare's work."

Mathews' involvement in the theatre reaches from directing, acting and teaching to stage management and producing. She received her BFA in Theatre from the University of Nevada, Reno, her hometown, and has performed in venues from Toronto to Tokyo and from Alaska to Florida. In St. Louis, she has taught at COCA and in 2011 became Director of Theatre at Crossroads College Preparatory School, where the annual program includes between five and ten performances ranging from main stage plays and musicals, student directed pieces, Improv, theatre for young audiences, and Shakespeare. In recent years, Crossroad's students have also participated in the Shakespeare Festival programs including SHAKE38, MetroYouth Shakespeare, and Shakespeare Squadron.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' In the Schools Education Tour productions, workshops and study materials have a 13-year legacy of bringing to life the Bard's characters and their deeds of gallant (and not-so-gallant) behavior to more than 250,000 students, and in the process, have won accolades from educators throughout the region.

The Festival's education program helps demystify Shakespeare through reading, watching and performing his works. Programs and materials are developed to align to the common core state standards accepted by 48 states, including Missouri and Illinois.

"Shakespeare was a master of the English language," said Germaine Murray, Professor of English at Maryville University. "His artistry in presenting the issues four hundred years ago is insightful, to say the least. Bullying, leadership, revenge, and war are issues people have grappled with no matter the genre, the culture, or the century. It's crucial that today's students continue to have the opportunity to be exposed to this author, his works and these issues in a theatrical environment."

In the past 13 years, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has attracted more than 600,000 people to its annual free performances in Forest Park. In 2010, SFSTL launched SHAKE 38, a marathon citywide presentation of Shakespeare's entire 38-play canon. Since 2011, Shakespeare in the Streets has invited St. Louis' neighborhoods to tell their unique community stories, shutting down a street for performances that present the combined talents of professional actors alongside local residents. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Regional Arts Commission, SHAKE38.com, launched on April 23, 2014, Shakespeare's 450th birthday.

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