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Fall Festival Common Classes Celebrate Teamwork

(Lenox, MA) – The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is back and with it four Common Classes where hundreds of teenagers gather to work and play together in Stage Combat, Dance and Movement, Technical Theatre and Performance Preparation. Ten schools will be represented in this year's Festival, coming from the Berkshires, Pioneer Valley, and eastern New York State. The students join together on four different nights this month to explore, collaborate, and meet each other in celebration instead of competition.

“Common Classes are particularly meaningful, because they give me a chance to be free to just go for it… it gives me a chance to forget about comparing myself to others, and just have fun,” commented one participating student from Springfield Central High School.

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. 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.

The first Common Class, on October 5, will focus on Stage Combat at Monument Mountain Regional High School. The following three classes will be held at Shakespeare & Company, and include Dance and Movement on October 13, Technical Theatre on October 19, and Performance Preparation on October 26.

“Common Classes are an integral part of the Festival,” said Director of Education, Kevin G. Coleman. “The chance to get to know so many other students, to work together creating battle scenes, court and country dances, learn about costume design and props, the range of technical work needed to support a performance, research, stage management and publicity, and the energy and discipline needed for performance can be eye opening and wildly exciting. Thinking creatively and working cooperatively are life skills that can change everything and benefit everyone. This is deep education. ”

I love how judgement-free people are at the Festival,” said a student from Mt. Everett Regional High School. “Everyone is filled with love and support, and I’m so grateful for that. Performing at the Festival is truly an amazing experience. I’ve never felt as appreciated as when I’m standing on that stage. Everyone listens and values what I have to say, and I love that immensely.”

The ten schools participating in the 2016 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). 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 17 through Sunday, November 20.

This program is supported in part by Deborah and Bill M. Ryan; Jeffrey Konowitch and Wendy Laurin; and by the grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation; the Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, New Marlborough, Richmond, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, and West Stockbridge Cultural Councils; local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; and a coalition of local businesses, families, and individuals.

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 tens of thousands of patrons annually. The Company is also home to a renowned Center for Actor Training, as well as an award-winning Education Program. More information is available at www.shakespeare.org.

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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.

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