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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Shakespeare & Company, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Performing Arts, Theater

Mission: Founded in 1978, Shakespeare & Company aspires to create a theatre of unprecedented excellence rooted in the classical ideals of inquiry, balance and harmony; a company that performs as the Elizabethans did -- in love with poetry, physical prowess and the mysteries of the universe. With a core of over 150 artists, the company performs Shakespeare, generating opportunities for collaboration between actors, directors and designers of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. S&Co provides original, in-depth, classical training and performance methods. S&Co also develops and produces new plays of social and political significance. Shakespeare & Company's education programs inspire a new generation of students and scholars to discover the resonance of Shakespeare's truths in the everyday world, demonstrating the influence that classical theatre can have within a community.

Programs: Performance - fy15 consisted of 9 productions across 2 indoor and 2 outdoor stages on a 33-acre campus in the berkshire hills of ma; over 38,000 attendees participating in 263 public performances: 4 shakespeare plays, 4 contemporary plays, 1 original dance presentation; in addition, 26 opportunities for in-depth discussions and/or behind the scenes tours for interested members of the community. Rooted in shakespeare's work and elizabethan ideals of inquiry, balance and harmony, and committed to nurturing creative impulses, exploring themes of human experience, and influencing future generations, productions demonstrate a commitment to language, classical ideals, physical prowess, and a contemporary voice.

education - fy15 consisted of flagship, nationally-recognized program "fall festival of shakespeare" involving nearly 500 students from 10 different high schools in ny and ma, each exploring a shakespeare play and presenting it to each other and their communities; 16 adolescent offenders in need of support participating in an effective and action-oriented 6-week courts' program as alternate to traditional sentencing (i. E. , "sentenced to shakespeare"), which has been celebrated at a white house ceremony and honored as an outstanding community arts program with a gold star award from the massachusetts cultural council; new england tour of shakespeare furthers classical literacy in 75 communities' schools from new jersey to maine with performances and smaller-scale student workshops, all a part of the national endowment for the arts' "shakespeare in american communities"; 6 elementary or middle school residencies, with multi-week in-depth explorations of events and themes in shakespeare culminating in performances for the communities from long island to the berkshires; 7 "riotous youth" programs designed to introduce young actors (7-15 yr. Olds) to shakespeare's heightened language, imaginative stories and extreme situations through creative and collaborative activities; 3 "young company" programs of deeper training for 16-20 year-olds, including paid public performances; 2 week-long professional development programs catering to up to 25 high school teachers of shakespeare exploring and redefining a student's experience of shakespeare while inspiring deeper appreciation, wonder and delight.

training - fy15 consisted of rigorous programs in voice, text, clown, stage fight, rhetoric and movement are offered to theatre professionals in new england and throughout the united states: month-long residential actor training workshop for up to 60 participants; 5-week-long residential summer training institute for up to 40 college-aged actors; several week-long and up to a dozen weekend intensive studies offered around the country.

Community Stories

128 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

The arts are crucial to our experience of being human. Shakespeare is at the center of our western tradition of literary and performance artistry. Shakespeare & Co. reinterprets the Bard's and related work for our new age. I continue to be thrilled by and learn so much from this most excellent troupe's work. Their mission is entertainment, philosophy and education - exploring what makes us human and how to be better at it. My 16 year old son still proclaims his Riotus Youth experiences as among the best of his life, and he is not an aspiring actor. Some of my family's most transforming times have been as audience members at S & Co. They are very worthy of continued support.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son and daughter both have participated in Riotus Youth over several years. Both enjoyed it immensely and learned so much about Shakespeare, acting and life. My son said his experiences there were among the best in his life. I also see most of the productions which are second to none and I spent many years in London seeing the RSC. This is an industrious and truely inspiring institution doing worthy work.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Shakespeare and Company will be celebrating its 35th year with some wonderful productions scheduled. Meanwhile, they can look back on the past year of outstanding productions with pride. The company is now year round with a robust fall production of The War of the Worlds, a Christmas delight with Santaland and an incredibly funny production of Moliere's Learned Lady with a skilled cast of young and talented actors. This is a company that provides its audiences with unique theatrical experiences. One can not praise it enough.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been attending Shakespeare and Company for twenty-five years or more. Our son and daughter-in-law attended their summer training program and a winter intensive. We attend a great deal of theatre in his country, Canada and Great Britain, but there is a special quality to Shakespeare and Company. There is an energy and a vitality to the company that is unique. We would take our friends to see the performances at the Mount and will never forget the magic of seeing As You Like It and A Midsummer's Night Dream out of doors. However, it makes no difference where they perform, indoors or out, they make plays come alive. We enjoyed their Bare Bard performances, their comedies at the Elaine Bernstein theatre, their student productions; all were outstanding. I have always been amazed that everyone who works there, not just the actors and the other artistic people , but the box office people, the ticket takers, the food people, all exude the same friendly, enthusiastic spirit. We are thrilled that they not have performances in the fall and winter so that we can enjoy them all year round.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a parent and board member at a school where two of Shakespeare & Co.'s superb staff worked with a group of eager but generally "green" kids for three months and guided them through the creation of a superb performance of Twelfth Night (well, five performances, actually). Many thanks to Brittany and Kelly and to Shakespeare & Co. for making this happen. It was great for the kids and it created a moving work of art, much more than just a school play.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Participating in Fall Festival, I have found it to be an amazing experience for advancing in acting as well as socializing with students from other schools in a non-competitive way that I couldn't have experience any other way. In Riotous Youth Company over the summer, I have found a great way to continue developing my acting skills while continuing to be a part of the Shakespeare and Company community.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm not sure what "Client served" means, but I am a teacher who has attended two workshops with Shakespeare & Company in the beautiful Berkshires. The first workshop was a three-day "Teaching Shakespeare" workshop, then the next year I went to a five-day workshop that centered on Hamlet. For the several years since, I continue to incorporate so much of what Kevin taught us, and my students walk away from having read Shakespeare with a much keener appreciation of his work than they ever did before. I frequently hear comments like, "Yeah, I actually liked Hamlet." I am forever grateful!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shake & Co. is the best summer camp in the Berkshires. They deliver on what they advertise. Many camps sound good in the brochure, but don't come close to delivering. This educational program allows children the opportunity to become comfortable with Shakespeare at an early age. I was awed by my daughter (age 8) performing scenes from Henry V.

Review from Guidestar

Eva S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My whole family and I love Shakespeare and Company. All of their shows blow us away, and it is so nice to to be able to go see quality shows in such a nice location. Last summer we went to see Richard III, and it was by far the best version of Richard III I have ever seen. Their back stage tour is also wonderful, and as a theater major the quality of everything they put into their productions amaze me.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Company, Inc. is a marvelous organization providing wonderful Youth Summer Programs and year round theater. My daughter's experiences during the past two summers have been terrific and have helped provide her with the confidence to perform in other community productions. It has also instilled a true love of Shakespeare within her. We look forward to attending each new Shakespeare performance and are excited about the expanded year-round programming.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare and Company is fabulous. Throughout the year they offer amazing Shakespeare plays, free community youth theater in the round, free lectures and access to high quality theater that is astounding. My son has grown up among Othello, Coriolanus, etc. The high school productions done in tandem with local high schools are so entertaining and make a difference in the student's lives. I can't wait for my son to attend summercamp at Shakespeare and Co. Great deals on student and community tickets too!

Review from Guidestar

Joseph H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Company's education programs--Riotous Youth Company, Fall Festival of Shakespeare, Shakespeare & Young Company--were the perfect creative outlet for the frustrated energy pent up inside of me as a teenager. Their acting programs allowed me to express myself in an extremely productive, creative, non-destructive fashion. Not only that; I also gained a great appreciation for classic literature. Shakespeare is AWESOME, even if most people don't know it yet.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Company was a wonderful organization to work with. For two years, they put on performances for Roger L. Putnam V.T.H.S. These performances aligned with the curriculum and enhanced the students' understanding of Shakespeare's works. They were very accommodating. It was also great that they took time after the performance to speak with students.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended the Month-Long Intensive this past January and I loved it so much and was so inspired and energized by the entire process that I am returning in March to do a six month work study so that I can participate in their Conservatory program. I will essentially be spending an entire year working with Shakespeare and Company, and I couldn't be happier!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

To put it simply, Shakespeare and Company changed my life. I attended my first Month Long Intensive in June 1999. Subsequently, I participated in teacher trainings and brought Kevin Coleman to Children's Theatre of Charlotte to help train actors and classroom teachers involved in a Shakespeare touring and residency program I developed there.

Not a day goes by that I don't remember and use the knowledge and emotional understandings gained during that month and in the years following. This is an organization made up of a diverse corps of actors, directors, choreographers and teachers who genuinely speak from and live by a consistent aesthetic. They compassionately help people discover and uncover their own humanity through playing with Shakespeare's text, characters and stories. They allow us to do, to feel, to be and to live the human passion inherent in Shakespeare's plays. They are real. They care deeply about the work and have transformed lives all over the country.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son attended the Shakespeare summer camp education program for many years. As a student with a learning disability that made it very difficult to master reading, he had trouble feeling confident in his abilities as a learner in school. Shakespeare camp opened up new worlds for him as he learned to handle the language, to memorize his lines and to perform. After 2 summers, he informed me that he had conquered his fear of speaking in front of groups at school. He is now a strong student who loves Shakespeare. Although he is too old for the children's camp program, we look forward to attending plays at Shakespeare and Co. every summer, like the wonderful production of Richard III this past summer.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare Fall Festival is a high point of the year for our family. Ten high schools put on productions of Shakespeare plays at the Founder's Theater in Lenox over 4 days every November. You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it- the entire audience is filled with high school students, actually vibrating with enthusiasm over seeing their friends' performances. Many of the kids have been involved in Shakespeare and Co. for years- Riotous Youth in the summer, week-end acting classes, middle school productions and Fall Festival. Shakespeare and Co. educational programs are awesome!

Client Served

Rating: 5

What follows is a letter I wrote to Elaine P. Bernstein and Sol Schwartz after my children participated in Riotous Youth last summer:

Dear Sol and Elayne,

By now you must wonder what became of these two wandering minstrels!

Well, they have been on quite an adventure since they left the glow of yours and their Grandma's company in Lenox. They have been to Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard, and Provincetown. They have been
on a whale watch, and almost went water skiing. (They got dragged by a motor boat on a round rubber tube).

They came close to getting blown away by a hurricane, and now finally, they are on the end of Long Island for a few last sunny days with Dad (and mom) before school starts again.

But more important than where they were, it's what they did while there. Specifically, in Laurel Hollow, Long Island, they performed their monologues (along with their cousins, Josh and Kai) for a small audience on grass theater at a friend's beautiful home where they were videotaped. (Video tape to follow some day, I hope). They astounded three small children who had no idea what hit them. I think that's a big part of the fun. Kids who aren't exposed know not what to think. But it tells them: Hmm. Maybe there is something else out there!

All over Cape Cod they cursed at one another in Elizabethan style--usually beginning each sentence name with "Thou art...."
Thou was usually a boil.

During our escape from Hurricane Earl, Henry performed his monologue at my brother's home in Foxboro, Mass. during a big Chinese Food feast. This inspired my nice, Olivia Rose, age 11, to perform her scene from a play of Alice in Wonderland in which she was the Red Queen. Needless to say, my brother and his wife were astounded! They didn't know children could perform Shakespeare, and I don't even think they knew their daughter had starred in a play at sleep-away camp! They loved it!

I don't think the boys will ever forget their experience and Shakespeare and Company. Nor will they ever forget the fabulous, feisty, adoring couple who led them along--making them feel like they had come by special invitation. One time I saw Elayne reminding Henry to speak up and speak more slowly, and I thought how nice it would be if she could come home with us and appear each night at homework time: the perfect combination of encouragement and affection.

Gus's eyes lit up when we found out that his school is offering an after-school Shakespeare class, but was disappointed to find out
it's for kids in the two grades below him. But I know he will wow his teacher this year--especially if he is asked to write an essay
about how he spent his summer vacation. Can you imagine? And what a head start as he head for middle school. (Elayne--did you read The Wednesday Wars??)

Thanks most of all for being there for my mother-in-law. She made such a big commitment to the boys and to herself, and I am
absolutely positive that without your support--in so many ways--the two weeks would have been even more of a challenge
than they already were. Can you imagine taking on something like this? I'll bet you can. I think of the two of you, my mother-in-law, and the four boys as a small troop of intrepid actors--emerging from a little painted carnival wagon (they have one like this in The Wind in the Willows) in full costume--each with a different role--smiling at the audience, juggling, throwing out candies, and making everyone smile. Then performing a show. I think Josh would love this image more than anyone!

I hope you know how much we loved visiting both times we had the opportunity. First we had the perfect tour led by Sol, including ice cream for everyone, and a backstage look at Elayne's gorgeous theater, classrooms, props room, and costume studio!
I wanted to stay and take classes, myself. Truly.

And then the second time for the show--my parents were so impressed, my mom told me it was the highlight of her life. How about that?

Sol, Elayne: It truly is a remarkable program, and the two of you and my mother-in-law made it more than that--you made it feel like a home away from home. I think Henry would move there in a moment. He told me: "This is the greatest place ever, mom." Gus is the more dubious of the two, and even he said: "That camp is great."

I hope we will see you again. Maybe for dinner in the city? We would love to have you to brunch or dinner at our place on the Upper West Side. Or even better, wouldn't it be nice to see you back at camp next year? We may show up with our own troop if I keep telling everyone about it.

At any rate, I write this with appreciation for you both and for the great people who run the camp. It couldn't have been more exciting for my boys. A big, big thank you and a big, big hug.

Affectionately,

Jill Davis (mom of Gus and Henry)

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The educational programs at Shakespeare & Company are amazing. My child has participated for the past 4 years and is looking forward to many more. They are great at helping the kids decode the text and relate it to life around them.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

S&Co. as proved to be a lasting summer experience! My son has learned confidence & communication while developing a love for Shakespeare. He has made friends and looks forward to each new production.
What makes it especially wonderful is the folding in of kids with professionals. There is a flow that lets kids see the possibilities.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Shakespeare and company is an amazing organization that I am so grateful for. I've been a participant in their youth programs since I was seven years old and I've greatly benefited as an actor and a person. Shakpeare and company is a fabulous theater company that brings excellence to everything it is a part of and I cannot wait to be in the audience of another amazing performance this summer!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both my children participated in the Shakespeare in the Schools program, both at the elementary level and in high school. It was one of their MOST important resources to help them fit into a school where the arts have suffered due to budget cuts. They made lifelong friends, were able to use language in new and exciting ways and I have seen the effects of this program on kids with esteem issues. I really admire the program the involves high risk teenagers empowered by what they can say and the attention they can get in life through participation in theater. I think Shakespeare & Co. has innovated new ways of making theater part of the life of Berkshire residents and all in a very economical, and cost effective way. The loss of this company or a reduction in their programs would effect kids and families at many economic levels throughout the county.

Review from Guidestar