Youth and Shakespeare 2008 – Summer Shakespeare in Holyoke
Working in collaboration with the Enchanted Circle Theater, the Renaissance Center Theater Company and the Holyoke Public Schools, Hampshire Shakespeare Company re-visited the practice of children acting Renaissance plays through an intensive Shakespeare performance summer institute for eighth- and ninth- graders in Holyoke entitled “Youth and Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Connection.”
The students who participated in the program, the majority of whom were English Language Learners whose first language is not English, began with two weeks of formal classroom study of the text of Romeo and Juliet, the play selected for the three week performance part of the program. During this period, the students rehearsed two scenes from the play which were later performed for the entire summer school population at the E.N. White School where the program was based, as well as at the Renaissance Center at UMass Amherst, in a well-attended performance that was open to the public. During the rehearsal period, students worked with a fight choreographer and a dance choreographer, developing these aspects which were incorporated into the scenes, with a resulting energetic salsa version of the masquerade ball.
In addition, the students took a field trip to Hadley to view a dress rehearsal of the Hampshire Shakespeare Young Company’s production of As You Like It. They had the opportunity to meet with their peers and talk about their own work. Hampshire Shakespeare personnel involved in the project included Young Company director Chris Rohmann, Fight Director Jeff Lord, Young Company alum and 2008 Season House Manager Katrin Lloyd-Bollard (as teaching assistant), and administrators Lucinda Kidder and Ann Garner.