Focusing primarily on students in grades 5-8, this program utilizes the students' excitement and emerging language skills to bring Shakespeare's text to life, before they have a chance to see Shakespeare as a dense, unmanageable tome - which we have seen is often the experience when students enter high school.
These residencies take place during regular English/Language Arts class periods and often involve one or more entire grade levels at the school. Pages to Players residencies can take various forms according to the needs and interests of the school, but so far we have developed two basic models:
One is a three-to-five-week program in which the students engage in intensive performance-based exploration of a single Shakespeare play on a daily basis, culminating in a final presentation by all the students of an abridged version of the play for their peers, parents, and/or members of the community. Fees for this residency model generally range between $6000-$8000.
The other model uses a smaller portion of text (a short scene or monologue) and takes place over two or three class sessions. The same basic skills for reading, speaking and performing the text are introduced, but in less detail than in the longer residency model. We encourage some opportunity for students to "perform" their work, but there is typically not a formal final presentation in this residency model. Fees generally range between $1000-$2000.
In both cases, the students work with Shakespeare Theatre teaching artists who lead the residency activities. Because these residencies are based in the English classroom, the primary focus is on using performance and the theatrical tradition as tools for achieving greater proficiency and pleasure in the study of the English language generally, and Shakespeare in particular. We have found that, particularly for unwilling readers and students with special needs who may struggle in the regular English classroom, the residency experience opens unexpected pathways into language. Along the way, students are also introduced to many of the fundamental skills utilized by theatre artists, such as ensemble techniques and teamwork, vocal clarity and projection, and others which can have a lifelong impact.
The Shakespeare Theatre's teaching artists also work in partnership with the classroom teachers to coordinate our work with their curriculum and to ensure that their educational objectives are being met. We encourage the teachers to be active partners and participants throughout the residency process.
In recent years, participating schools have included: Normandy Park School (Morristown, NJ), Alexander Hamilton School (Morristown, NJ), Forest Street School (Orange, NJ), Glenwood Elementary School (Short Hills, NJ), Harding Township School (New Vernon, NJ), and Horace Mann School (Riverdale, NY).
For more information or to inquire about a residency at your school, please contact Shayna Cooper, Education Associate