New Jersey Stage

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents SHAKESPERIENCE:NJ

(MADISON, NJ) — The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will host teachers and students in grades 5 - 12 through from 15 schools across the state for the fifth annual Shakesperience:NJ – two days highlighting and celebrating the study of Shakespeare through performance -- on May 16 and 17 at The Theatre's Main Stage – the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison.  The initiative offers an opportunity for middle and high school students to spend an entire day sharing the excitement of Shakespeare as actors and audience members. Each group of students will appear on the Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre to present a 20-minute Shakespeare scene to an audience of their peers, teachers, parents and professional actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey who will serve as commentators and adjudicators. 

The 15 schools scheduled to participate in this year's two-day Shakesperience:NJ festival are Bloomfield High School, Faith Hope Love Academy in Kendall Park, Hamilton Preparatory Academy  in Elizabeth, High Tech High School in North Bergen, Hillsborough Middle School, Kent Place School in Summit, Lacordaire Academy in Montclair, Madison High School, Memorial High School in West New York, Montville High School, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Tenafly, Orange Preparatory Academy in Orange, The Pennington School, Purnell School in Pottersville, and Trinity Christian School in Montville.

Shakesperience:NJ is the product of a partnership between The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Rider University and the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.  The Folger Festivals Project was launched in 1986 as a national outreach initiative to extend the reach of the Library's teaching philosophy and to inspire student Shakespeare festivals across the nation.  In 2007, the Shakespeare Theatre and Rider University were chosen by the Folger Shakespeare Library to establish the annual statewide festival in New Jersey.

Shakesperience:NJ represents a step toward the creation of a national model for statewide student Shakespeare festivals based on the highly successful student Shakespeare festival at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  The institutions partnering to launch Shakesperience:NJ share a common mission of promoting the teaching of Shakespeare through performance, which has long been recognized to be the most effective and exciting way to introduce young people to Shakespeare's plays. Performance-based instruction heightens student interest and increases creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Through numerous classes and workshops with teachers and students, this philosophy has been introduced in schools throughout the state. The creation of a statewide student festival is intended to showcase the results of this performance-based learning, and to encourage more schools and teachers to make performance a key component of the language arts classroom.

The program enables young people to come together with their peers from diverse backgrounds to celebrate their shared achievements in the study of English literature.  Student festivals provide important structure and closure to performance-based study, instilling in students a sense of pride and ownership of their own learning. The Shakesperience:NJ Festival is designed to be an educational, collaborative experience, not a drama competition. Students will have the option of receiving feedback from professional commentators, but the focus of each day is on Shakespeare's works and the creativity and variety of student interpretations.  

In addition to the student performances, each day will include entertaining educational interludes such as Shakespeare trivia games and swordplay demonstrations conducted by a Master of Revels and professional guest artists.  For more information about Shakesperience:NJ, call 973-408-3980.