We are in the busiest season of the Education Department√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s calendar: from the beginning of May through the first week in June thirteen schools will perform their rendition of The Merchant of Venice as a part of the World Theatre Project.
For the past twelve weeks, teachers, teaching artists and students have been exploring Shakespeare√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s language and themes, such as bullying, prejudice and status within the play. Once the students have gained an understanding of the text and the themes, they see a matinee of the current production, this year Merchant. For the last five weeks of the program, the tables turn. In collaboration with their designated teaching artist, each participating class produces their version of Merchant. Because each production is a reflection of a class√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s experience of the play, each culminating event is a completely original performance.
In addition to the World Theatre Project√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s culminating events, the New Voices program is concluding with small showcases. After working with teaching artists for 15 weeks writing first drafts of their original plays, high school students listen to professional actors read and critique their pieces. Most recently, two classes delighted our education director, Joe Giardina, with their creativity and originality, and their ability to embrace sophisticated playwriting techniques. He remarked that, in addition to the students√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ talent, the teaching artists excelled in connecting with and pushing the students to work towards excellence.