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In conjunction with the Berkshire Juvenile Court System, adolescent offenders study, rehearse, and perform Shakespeare as an alternative to more punitive consequences.
For the past 15 years, Shakespeare & Company Education artists have worked closely with juvenile court judges and the probation officers of Berkshire County to engage adolescent offenders and those in need of support and provide an alternative to traditional punitive measures. Adjudicated juvenile offenders work with Shakespeare & Company artists and participate in classes, rehearsals, and performances of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.
During the 10-14 week project, participants explore Shakespeare’s text and prepare their own performance piece as part of the terms of their probation.
This innovative, effective and action-oriented program has garnered overwhelming local and nation media attention. The program was nationally recognized and celebrated at a White House Ceremony, and honored as an outstanding community arts program with a Gold Star Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Supported by a YouthReach grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, this collaboration with Berkshire Juvenile Court was created in 2001.
"Shakespeare in the Courts is meant to boost the kids' self-esteem, to improve their communications skills, to develop a spirit of community and cooperation." - The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2006
Shakespeare in the Courts is partially funded by Berkshire United Way and supported by a grant through the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s YouthReach Initiative. Shakespeare in the Courts is also partially funded by the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
Shakespeare & Company is a professional live theatre company in the heart of the Berkshires, presenting a vibrant summer performance season featuring the works of Shakespeare in repertory with classic and contemporary plays. The Company offers one of the most extensive actor training programs by a regional theatre in the country, and is also home to an award-winning and nationally recognized theatre-in-education program.