The Fall Festival Of Shakespeare Celebrates 30 Years

By: Sep. 27, 2018
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The Fall Festival of Shakespeare celebrates its 30th season, bringing together over 500 local students to explore Shakespeare, creativity, and teamwork. The nationally recognized program begins with an integral series of four Common Classes where hundreds of teenagers come together for workshops in Stage Combat, Dance and Movement, Technical Theatre and Performance Preparation. Ten different schools are represented in this year's Festival, coming from the Berkshires, Pioneer Valley, and eastern New York State. The students will gather on four nights this October to support each others' productions and celebrate the challenge and their delight in performing and producing Shakespeare.

"The Fall Festival of Shakespeare has become a tradition here in the Berkshires," said Director of Education, Kevin G. Coleman. "The Festival has grown from a simple idea: to have students encounter the plays of Shakespeare as plays; to meet Shakespeare on his own terms. Just that. The Festival is where students rigorously think, deeply feel, wildly imagine and speak - without inhibition - the thoughts and feelings, the joys and heartbreaks of his characters in the presence of witnesses - the audience."

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 a Shakespeare play, and end with a series of performances, first at their respective schools, and then at Shakespeare & Company's Tina Packer Playhouse in a non-competitive festival setting. Built on the transformative power of Shakespeare's language and stories, the Fall Festival engages students in a personally meaningful and educationally rigorous experience of classical theatre.

"Fall Festival was the most wonderful experience of high school," said a Festival alum. "It taught me how to better appreciate theatre, Shakespeare, my fellow classmates - even myself."

The first Common Class, on October 3, brings all the Festival students to Monument Mountain Regional High School to learn stage combat. The following three classes will be held at Shakespeare & Company, and include Dance and Movement on October 10, Theatre Production on October 17, and Performance Preparation on October 24.

"Fall Festival showed me an inner strength that I was never aware of," said another Fall Festival alum. "It taught me the beauty and complexity of the human being, and to believe in myself. I left Fall Fest a more confident person, ready to embrace a bigger world, as a bigger person."

The ten schools participating in the 2018 Fall Festival of Shakespeare include Berkshire Waldorf High School, Chatham High School (New York), Lee High School, Lenox Memorial High School, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Mount Everett Regional High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, Springfield Central High School, Taconic High School, and Taconic Hills High School (New York). This year's directors include Ellie Bartz, David Bertoldi, Gregory Boover, Caroline Calkins, Annie Considine, Noa Egozi, Lori Evans, Rory Hammond, Dana Harrison, Luke Haskell, Sara Holt, Alison Howard, Tom Jaeger, Caitlin Kraft, Leslie Lee, Madeleine Maggio, Jake Merriman, Connie Russo, Doug Seldin, and Dara Silverman. Students from all ten schools will gather in a spirit of celebration to perform their plays for the public in a four-day festival at the Tina Packer Playhouse from Thursday, November 16 through Sunday, November 19.

The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is supported in part by: Deborah and Bill Ryan; The Janey Fund; Jeffrey Konowitch and Wendy Laurin; National Endowment for the Arts; Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation; Chervenak-Nunnalle Foundation; The Janey Fund; the Lee, Lenox, New Marlborough, Northern Berkshire, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sheffield, Springfield, and Tyringham Cultural Councils - Local agencies supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency; and a coalition of local businesses, families, and individuals.

Kevin G. Coleman
(Director of Education, Board of Trustees, Fight Director, Founding Member of Shakespeare & Company) Kevin is one of Shakespeare & Company's artistic and administrative leaders. He works in the Performance and Training departments as an actor, teacher and director, and oversees the mission of the Education department. Kevin teaches text analysis, stage combat and clown, and has been a guest teacher or director at MIT, Harvard, L.S.U., Stanford, Q.U.T.- Brisbane, Lincoln Center, the Folger Library, Shakespeare Festivals in both Stratfords, and The Mercury Theatre in Colchester, UK. Kevin is the Theatre Director at the Austen Riggs Center where he has directed over 30 productions. In 2016, Kevin was Runner-Up for the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.

About the Education Program
The Education Program at Shakespeare & Company 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. Guided by Kevin G. Coleman and Jennie Jadow, the Education Programs Manager, the artists, teachers, and directors of the Education Program continue to develop and refine programs for elementary, middle, and high school students and teachers across the country.

About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals in the country. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 40,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to Shakespeare & Company's internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and nationally renowned and award-winning Education Program. More information is available at