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February 27, 2010

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February 27, 2010

Shakespeare & Company runs the highly ambitious yet successful Fall Festival of Shakespeare, which affords students from ten schools or more in the states of Massachusetts and New York the opportunity to work with professional directors, designers, and technicians in staging ninety-minute versions of Shakespeare's plays, which are then performed in each school and again at Founders' Theatre in Lenox, MA in a rollicking, supportive, non-contesting atmosphere. The students absolutely love the Festival, which is a life-changing experience for most of them. They make friendships, gain confidence, and develop a strong affection for Shakespeare and live theatre. There is no other project like this in the country. Our school, Springfield Central High School, is probably the most urban school of all those in the Festival, therefore relecting more diversity, and our students always feel valued and indeed embraced by the students from the other school, many of them from the Berkshires. We have taken part in the Festival for eighteen years, and as soon as we finish, the students are clamoring to know what play we are planning to do next year. On the Monday after the Festival, we gather in our theatre for "closure," in which the students sit in a circle on stage and each one has the chance to say what the experience meant to him or her. Every year, students speak from the heart, many becoming emotional, especially the seniors, for whom the experience is finished. They tell us how much the Festival means to them, and how they wait all year for the Fall because they look forward to it so much. Many of our students go on to be involved in theatre in college, and this certainly would not be the case if they hadn't had the opportunity to be part of the Fall Festival of Shakespeare.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing my students blossom during the rehearsals and performances of our plays.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

professional, enthusiastic, friendly, hard-working, dedicated, willing, supportive, and crazy about Shakespeare.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

finish building the Rose Theatre, which would become a mecca for students and theatre-goers, who could experience what Shakepeare's audiences did by attending plays in a period-authentic setting.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 27, 2010

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February 27, 2010

I am most impressed by Shakespeare & Company's education program. One fabulous program, Fall Festival of Shakespeare, brings what the company calls "a language-based program" into ten high schools in western Massachusetts and eastern New York. What does that mean? Besides sending two young directors into each school each year to work with the kids to produce one of Shakespeare's plays both on the school stage and in one fabulous weekend, on the professional stage in Lenox, these young directors teach the kids in a most natural way to "speak Shakespeare." Without any of the usual pain and suffering but with joy and enthusiasm, these young people learn the subtleties of the language. Two great things come of this: first, when all the schools are together for festival weekend watching each other's plays, all the kids understand each play and each line - and are screaming and stomping and laughing on cue; second, and ultimately more important, they each have the tools to enjoy Shakespeare's works all their lives. They become passionate about a major piece of our culture that leaves many of us cold. This is priceless.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing my child and other children gain the tools to become passionate about Shakespeare's works.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it larger and even more influential.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the incredible power of the productions.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated and energetic, of course, but committed from the core of their beings to spreading their passions.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the image of Shakespeare for even more than the hundreds of young people they reach every year now.

Ways to make it better...

I knew that each school didn't have to worry year to year that they would be able to pay for the program, Fall Festival.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial. It's always hard for arts organizations, but in the current economy it's very tough.

One thing I'd also say is that...

by dedicating so much of themselves to youth, they truly improve the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 27, 2010

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February 27, 2010

Consistently high-quality and well-presented shows -- a real asset to the Berkshires and to aspiring actors/directors seeking a showcase and training.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

their recent production of Othello

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

Ways to make it better...

couldn't have improved it! I wish they had a longer performance season

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 27, 2010

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February 27, 2010

My family has attended many of the free offerings in the summertime. S&Co;does a FANTASTIC job making the performing arts (and Shakespeare) alive and accessible in the best ways, and still remain true to the the bard. We love it!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Massachusetts?

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Great, non-stuffy art that my video game-addicted children actually enjoy and never complain about going to.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Actors--always willing to answer questions (especially from the kids).

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Travel and share their great art with more audiences, finish the Rose Theater helping bring an authentic Shakespeare experience to New England

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 27, 2010

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February 27, 2010

My husband and I try to get to the Shakespeare & CO. productions at least a couple of times, if not more, every summer. (We live about an hour's drive from Lenox.) We have thoroughly enjoyed each play we've seen there, including the productions of non-Shakespeare plays such as the brilliantly performed "The Actors Rehearse the Story of Charlotte Salomon" and the very funny family performances given in the Rose Footprint Theater every summer. The level of professionalism, fine acting skills and creativity of the company are top notch. In addition to our own enjoyment, our son and his family, who live in Lenox, have taken advantage of the wonderful children's programming at Shakespeare & Co.: our 8-yr.old granddaughter has participated in the week-long "Riotous Youth"summer camp for kids, where she performed in Romeo and Juliet (as done by 8-12 year olds!) and other Shakespeare plays. We greatly enjoyed the kids' performances but more than that, we were very impressed with how much Shakespeare our granddaughter learned, and how much she loved it. Shakespeare & Co. is a treasure and we have donated what we are able to afford to keep it going! We look forward seeing more terrific productions this coming summer.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

performances, and indirectly in its educational program (via my granddaughter's participation in that.)

More feedback...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Complete the building of the Rose Theater; put on more productions; expand its educational and training programs; form a major touring company; offer low-cost or free tickets to low-income families; keep going indefinitely!!!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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