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Shakespeare & Company Hosts 25th Fall Festival, Now thru 11/24

The word is out! The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is no longer the best-kept secret in the Berkshires. Hundreds of teenagers armed with creative freedom, passionate text, flashing broadswords and jubilant dances, will take to the stage this November for the 25th Annual Fall Festival.

The Fall Festival is the culmination of the nationally recognized program that places Shakespeare & Company Education Artists in ten local and regional schools, where they lead students in a nine-week exploration of how Shakespeare's plays relate to their own lives and "hold a mirror up to nature." Built on the transformative power of Shakespeare's words, the Fall Festival seeks to engage students in vibrant, playful and poignant theatrical experiences. Students from all ten schools will gather in a spirit of celebration to perform their plays for the public in a four-day, non-competitive festival at the Tina Packer Playhouse from today, November 21 through Sunday, November 24.

The Fall Festival concludes with the students performing a Shakespeare play at their own school and then again as part of a four-day marathon of plays at Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer Playhouse. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $8.00 for students per performance. A Festival Pass, which grants admission to all ten plays, may also be purchased for $75.00 for adults and $30.00 for students. For tickets please call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit

The ten participating schools this year include: Lee High School, Lenox Memorial High School, Taconic High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, North Andover High School, Mount Everett Regional High School, Chatham High School (New York), Taconic Hills High School (New York), Springfield Central High School and Monument Mountain Regional High School.

Led by Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman, Associate Director of Education Jenna Ware, and School Programs Manager Alexandra Lincoln, the Fall Festival is a celebration rather than a competition. Students are encouraged to delve into Shakespeare's works, unpacking the language and savoring the humor, intensity and transcendent beauty of Shakespeare's plays. Daily rehearsals focus on students' personal responses to the text and connection to language. Students also have the opportunity to explore stage combat, performance, dance, technical theatre, stage management and marketing and publicity techniques during their Fall Festival experience. Shakespeare & Company's set, props, technical and costume staff collaborates with the Education Artists and students to create a unique design for each play.

"What can I possibility say to capture the pride, the history, the work and play of over 240 productions? How can one even add up the overwhelming numbers of students, teachers, parents, families, directors, costumers, technicians, liaisons, custodians, administrators, friends and financial supporters who have contributed to the Fall Festival for the past 25 years. Fall Festival students have become Festival directors; Past Festival kids are now the parents of present Festival kids. After 25 years, the Fall Festival of Shakespeare has made a home in the community with two generations, and we haven't exhausted them yet," states Coleman.

The Company's award-winning Education Program is one of the most extensive theatre-in-education programs in the Northeast, and has reached millions of students since 1988 with innovative performances, workshops, and residencies. In addition to the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, other Shakespeare & Company programs include The Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Courts, Shakespeare & Young Company, Riotous Youth, Elementary & Middle School Tour, 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 Coleman and Ware, the Education Program received the Commonwealth Award in 2005, the highest award for excellence in the arts, sciences, and humanities given by the commonwealth 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. 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.

The Fall Festival program is supported in part by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, Deb and Bill Ryan, Jeffrey Konowitch and Wendy Laurin, Berkshire Bank, The Red Lion Inn, Country Curtains, the Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, New Marlboro, North Andover, Pittsfield, Sheffield, Springfield, Stockbridge and Richmond Cultural Councils, and a coalition of businesses, families, and individuals.

These schools mount full productions of Shakespeare plays (cut to 90 minutes) with a team of professional directors, costumers, set, light, sound designers and production staff from Shakespeare & Company. "The Fall Festival is as physically demanding as a varsity sport, as intellectually rigorous as an honors class, and as emotionally charged as adolescence itself," says Coleman.

Fall Festival Performance Schedule 2013:
Tina Packer Playhouse

Thursday 6:30 - Taconic Hills High School - The Tempest
Thursday 8:30 - Lee High School- Much Ado About Nothing
Friday 6:30 - Lenox Memorial High School - Richard III
Friday 8:30 -Mt. Greylock Regional High School- King Lear
Saturday 1:30 - Mt. Everett Regional High School- Macbeth
Saturday 3:30 - Taconic High School - King Lear
Saturday 6:15 - Monument Mountain Regional High School - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Saturday 8:30 - Springfield Central High School - Romeo and Juliet
Sunday 1:30 - Chatham High School - Romeo and Juliet
Sunday 3:30 - North Andover High School - Hamlet

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