Since 1982, Shakespeare & Company has sent educational workshops and touring productions of Shakespeare’s plays to middle and high schools, colleges, large-scale performance venues, and community centers all over the Northeast and beyond, reaching more than 20,000 students each year. Our emphasis is on Shakespeare’s language, dramatic action, pleasure in playing, and the vital relationship that exists between the actors and the audience.
From late-January through mid-May of 2020, we will be touring two Shakespeare productions, Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors. Both shows feature the same six Actor/Education Artists playing all of the roles (which is a practice that has its roots in Shakespeare’s own company), and both plays are adapted to run ninety minutes without an intermission. The shows are fully produced; we bring our own set, costumes, props, and sound system, and we have tried-and-true methods to create lights in collaboration with staff and/or students based on the spaces in which we perform.
A one-day package at your school, university, or venue includes:
Below are examples of what a typical day might look like:
Example #1 - One morning performance, Post-Show Forum, and Workshop in Performance
7:30am Actors Arrive
7:30am - 10:00am: Load in / Warmup / Fight call / Half hour
10:00am - 11:30am: Macbeth performance
11:30am - 11:45am: Post-Show Forum
11:45am - 12:30pm: Lunch / Break
12:30pm - 1:15pm: Workshop in Performance
1:15pm - 1:45pm: Load out
Example #2 - One afternoon performance, Post-Show Forum, and Actor-Audience Workshop
9:00am: Actors Arrive
9:00am - 12:00pm: Load in / Warmup / Lunch / Fight call / Half hour
12:00pm - 1:30pm: The Comedy of Errors performance
1:30pm - 1:45pm: Post-Show Forum
1:45pm - 2:00pm: Short break for Actors
2:00pm – 2:45pm: Actor-Audience Workshop
2:45pm – 3:15pm: Load out
The schedules above can be customized to accommodate your school and classroom schedules, as we know that every school has different scheduling challenges to work around. The only hard-and-fast rule is that the Actor/Education Artists need at least 2.5 hours in the space ahead of the performance.
It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.
Returning victorious from the battle that quelled an invasion and rebellion against King Duncan, Macbeth, the loyal Thane of Glamis, and his warrior friend Banquo are confronted by three weird creatures that make some startling predictions about their futures. Macbeth, joined by his wife, begins to embrace and create the future that was seemingly promised. This starts them both down a path of violence and madness from which there is a diminishing hope of recovery. In this timely play, Shakespeare closely examines the soul of a man as he succumbs to ambition and the seduction of unchecked power, and we witness the misery and devastation it wrecks on an entire country.
The Comedy of Errors
We came into the world like brother and brother,
And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.
Soon after their birth, identical twin boys and their identical twin servants are shipwrecked and separated form each other and their parents. 18 years later, one of the twin boys and his servant twin set out in search of their brothers. By chance, they arrive in the town where their siblings have made their home. The misunderstandings, misadventures and mistaken identities are relentless, hysterical and turn the whole peaceful town upside down. This is Shakespeare’s first comedy, and it made his reputation as a master of farce and invention. Little could his audience know or anticipate what this fledgling playwright would become in the history of the world.
Immediately following a performance of either show, our Actor/Education Artists host a 15-minute interactive talkback we call the Post-Show Forum. In this lively and provocative exchange, the Actor/Education Artists use the audience’s responses to the themes of the play to spark a discussion, inviting the students to share their perspectives and engage with their peers as they think more deeply about the play.
As a part of our day at your school, our Actor/Education Artists will lead your students through your choice of one of our 45-minute workshops.
If you have any questions about these workshops or are interested in customizing our work with your students, contact Brittney Holland, Tour Coordinator, at (413) 637-1199 ext.106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop in Performance
In this workshop, students surprise themselves and each other by creating their own mini-Shakespeare performances. Our first exercises are with the whole group, but for most of the workshop we divide the students into smaller groups, each working on a piece of text from a Shakespeare play which is then performed for their classmates. The actors work closely with small groups of students to unleash an exciting, immediate, and personal experience of Shakespeare's language. In this workshop, each student can succeed and discover that Shakespeare is accessible, outrageous, and immediately engaging. They also perceive their classmates in new and delightful ways.
Number of Students:
The workshop works best with 30 to 40 students and teachers, but can work with as few as 12 participants with an absolute maximum of 50 participants.
The Workshop Space:
For this workshop, we need a space large enough for the whole group to form a large circle and to accommodate all the smaller groups we divide students into for much of the workshop. Normally the school auditorium works fine, but sometimes we need to use the gym or some alternative space.
Actor / Audience Workshop
This is an interactive workshop for students’ observations, reactions, questions, and dialogue with the actors. The Actor/Audience Workshop works best when it takes place after the performance, as it is driven by the students’ curiosity about the show, and with lots of student participation on a volunteer basis. Imagine a couple of volunteers coming up on stage to work on some text, or a dozen students trying a fight move, or an entire auditorium doing an adapted Court Dance – this workshop is designed to help your students engage with the text in a totally new way. Then the activity switches to the actors re-performing a brief scene from the play that the students might request or the actors might suggest out of the previous dialogue. The students are invited to make requests or suggestions for the actors to play out as a way to re-interpret or re-direct the scene. The actors work generously to honor the students’ ideas, which often make the scene more dramatic, clearer, or more fun, and give the students an experience of how a simple idea can have a profound effect on the performance. It demonstrates the plasticity of theatre and the imaginative collaboration among the directors, the actors and the audience that is essential to this art form of theatre.
Number of Students:
The workshop can accommodate as many students as you like – we regularly work with the entire audience following the performance.
The Workshop Space:
This workshop is most successful in the performance space following the show, as it allows the actors to utilize the scenic elements in their work with the students.
As a part of your tour booking, you can request a digital copy of our Study Guide, prepared by the Shakespeare & Company Education Department and tailored specifically to each production. The Study Guide is designed as a supplemental resource for teachers and students, to be used in conjunction with our live performance, in order to help better understand the play and form points of connection between the experiences of modern-day students and the story of the play.
The Study Guide contains a brief synopsis of the play, an introduction to the characters, and a scene by scene breakdown of the major events of the play. It also provides descriptions of exercises used at Shakespeare & Company to explore the text, with a selection of scenes to play with in the classroom, along with useful websites and resources for further exploration of themes and connections to current events and everyday life.
If you are unable to bring Shakespeare and Company to your school, your students can still experience the magic of our 2020 Touring Productions at one of our student matinee performances. There will be multiple performance dates for both Macbeth and The Comedy of Error throughout the spring at the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA and at a venue in the Greater Boston area.
Dates will be announced in the fall – you can check our website at Shakespeare.org or email email@example.com to be added to the matinee schedule announcement email.
All performances are at 10:00am, run for 90 minutes, and are followed by our Post-Show Forum, an optional 15-minute talkback with the actors.
Tickets are $10/student, and teachers and chaperones are able to attend the performance free of charge.
To reserve seats for these performances contact Brittney Holland, Tour Coordinator, at (413) 637-1199 ext.106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shakespeare in American Communities
The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities. Shakespeare & Company is one of 40 professional theater companies selected to participate in bringing the finest productions of Shakespeare to middle- and high-school students in communities across the United States.
Through this program, we are able to offer financial assistance to qualifying schools to bring our Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare to their students. With the support of the Shakespeare in American Communities Grant, schools pay only $1,000 to bring our performance, talkback, and workshop to their students, or half-price for tickets to a matinee performance.
For more information or to apply, contact Brittney Holland, Tour Coordinator, at (413) 637-1199 ext.106 or email@example.com.
Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants
The Big Yellow School Bus program provides grants to help schools meet the transportation costs of educational field trips to cultural institutions and events. For more information and an application, visit the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Big Yellow School Bus web page.
Additionally, you may apply to your Local Cultural Council for funding. Visit the MCC’s Local Cultural Council Program web page for information on how to apply.
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.