“I was surprised by how easy the residency made it to actually understand Shakespeare!”
– Brett (5th Grader, Glenwood Elementary School)

Focusing primarily on students in grades 4-9, this program utilizes the students' excitement about being out from behind their desks as well as their emerging language skills to bring Shakespeare's text to life. Students experience the joy of language before they form any judgement about Shakespeare.

These dynamic, challenging, and fun residencies also tackle many of the NJ Student Learning Standards by encouraging students to: 

  • collaborate with peers and teaching artists
  • engage in predictive reading
  • explore phonics and etymology of words
  • utilize context clues 
  • interpret language, story, and character
  • explore theme, tone, and story structure 

The Shakespeare Theatre's teaching artists work in partnership with the classroom teachers to coordinate our work with 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. Collaborations with classroom teachers have included special art projects, "Shakespeare Journals", and even a "Shakespeare Blog."

In past years, participating schools have included: Madison Middle School, P.S. 13 (Jersey City); Normandy Park School (Morristown); Alexander Hamilton School (Morristown); Forest Street School (Orange); Glenwood Elementary School (Short Hills); Harding Township School (New Vernon); Quibbletown Middle School, Conackamack Middle School, and T. Schor Middle School (Piscataway).

The 20-Day Play Immersion Residency

“I realized I was more capable than I thought.”
– Jeffrey (Normandy Park Elementary School)

This four-to-six-week residency engages students in an intensive performance-based exploration of a single Shakespeare play. Through various theatre exercises and games, students discover the power of Shakespeare’s language (and language in general), as well as the power of story interpretation and physical storytelling. 

This residency has proven to be one of our most high-impact education programs. The pride and confidence young people gain as they discover their own aptitude for understanding the exciting world of Shakespeare’s plays is palpable. It is an ideal program for students who have previously been adverse to traditional language arts approaches. 

The program culminates in a final presentation by all students of an abridged version of the play for their peers, parents, and/or members of the community. 

Though we can model the program to the needs of a specific school and student body, most commonly we explore A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The TempestMacbeth, or Julius Caesar; all of which parallel school curriculums. The final presentation typically runs 35-40 minutes and is ideal for showing as an assembly for other classes and for parents.

This program is offered throughout the school year; residency dates are subject to STNJ staff availability.

The 10-Day Intensive

“I had a ball…It was the most fun I had this year!”

– Connor (Normandy Park Elementary School)

This shorter residency model utilizes many of the same skills used in the Play Immersion Residency.  This program focuses on shorter passages or scenes rather than full plays and takes place over the course of two to three weeks during which STNJ teaching artists meet with students for approximately ten sessions.

The same basic skills for reading, speaking, and performing the text are introduced, but in less detail than in the Play Immersion Residency model, though students are still provided with the opportunity for students to perform their work. The final project usually lasts about 10-15 minutes. 

Past residencies have included The Henry Project (with selections from Henry V) and The Hamlet Project (featuring four major speeches from Hamlet), as well as projects focused on Romeo & Juliet (the opening street fight between the Capulets and the Montagues), Julius Caesar (the garden conspiracy scene and the assassination of Caesar), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the fairy scenes in the woods and choral speeches). Other plays and selections can be considered at a school's request.

Students leave the program with a better understanding of Shakespeare’s language, a variety of new tools with which to navigate unfamiliar and unusual texts, and a greater sense of confidence when they see how language can be a powerful tool.

This program is offered throughout the school year; dates are subject to STNJ staff availability.

For more information or to inquire about a residency at your school, please contact the Education Department at Education@ShakespeareNJ.org or call 973-845-6742.