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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

75 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I worked with Shakespeare and Company in many different capacities. My children benefited from the programs they ran at their high school, they worked with my fourth grade students for 10 weeks to put on a Shakespeare play, my mother was the principal of a middle school where they worked, I attended a workshop they offered to teachers, and I've attended many of their productions. After all these experiences I truly think that Shakespeare and company is an extraordinary organization. My children felt it was one of the best things they were involved in during high school and that it had a profound impact on them. They were given respect for their ideas, feelings and abilities and ended up producing an incredibly professional performance, that they felt very proud of. The work they did with my 4th grade students was also amazing. They brought out aspects of my students I had never seen before. They managed to keep everything playful and fun. They were able to bring out the best in all my students and taught me much about handling my most difficult kids. The workshop I attended went deep and truly made me think differently about teaching Shakespeare to children. I am always amazed at how effortlessly I am able to understand Shakespearean English when I watch Shakespeare and Company's performances. I have worked with innumerable staff members, all whom were excellent. I keep thinking the next crew can't be as good, but they always are. I am also impressed with the work they do with adjudicated young people. They are truly a unique organization and one I hope will be around for a long time.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I think Shakespeare and Company is one of the most astounding organizations I have ever encountered. I have been involved with Shakespeare and Company as an audience member, the parent of two high school students involved in the Fall Festival, a teacher of a 4th grade class that Shakespeare and Company worked with for 10 years and as a workshop participant. Each of these experiences have been outstanding. As an audience member I enjoy and understand Shakespeare performances better than any company I have ever seen. The Fall Festival was one of the best experiences both of my children had in High School. The staff's ability to bring out the creativity of all participants, to incorporate their ideas and energy and to help teenagers grow emotionally was exceptional. As a teacher I loved the playful way the company brought out the best in ALL my students. They managed to keep the work fun and yet, at the same time, deep. My students were enthusiastic Shakespeare lovers at the end of their experiences. The workshop I attended was one of the best teacher workshops I have ever gone to. I am also impressed with the work the company does with juvenile offenders. This is a company with high standards for all they do and they always seem to meet their own and my expectations.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a coach and consultant for organizations and I specialize in transfomrational change work. I have worked with the faculty and experienced the workshops they offer in the community. They not only create much better actors and therefore performances for our community ...which helps us all be better human beings...but these experiences change the lives of those who participate and that benefits everyone they know and interact with. If you grant S and Co your award you will be contributing in a profound and transformative way to the lives of individuals and our entire community. YOu will increase our humanity and that is an amazing return on your investment.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Training is a key component of the work of Shakespeare & Company. This is not just something the company gives lip service to, but is an integral part of every aspect of the day-to-day life of the company. My theatre students who have trained there have received incredible guidance in Linklater voice work, rhetoric, and physical embodiment of text. The Month-Long Intensive is an artistic and personal life-changing experience.

Review from Guidestar

Justin H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I started my involvement with Shakespeare & Company's Educational programs when I was twelve years old. I participated in plays at my school (residencies), The Fall Festival, Shakespeare & Young Company, etc. I always found the teachers and directors to be professional, dedicated and passionate about the theater. As a teenager, I felt like their programs gave me an outlet to learn about Shakespeare, theater
and more so myself. I had the chance to be heard and to really listen to my peers. I made lasting connections with other students. These programs really touched my life and I'm still grateful to have been a part of them. It also inspired me to make a life and career in the theater, which I do today.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

S&C offer terrific Shakespeare training for professional artists as well as workshops for children, adults and teachers. I have been to quite a number of these workshops and have always come back inspired, excited and full of new knowledge & ideas. The care that the staff puts into making sure that every student has a fulfilling experience is phenomenal. I can think of no worthier institution for consideration for this award.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've run NEH institutes for teachers of Shakespeare of my own at the Univ of Maryland, but what Sh & Co does is far, far more powerful. All of their programs, from the schools of Massachusetts to national institutes for teachers change lives. Kevin Coleman is the heart of the operation. He has the most profound and compelling vision of what literature, specifically drama, super-specifically Shakespeare, can do in our classrooms at every level. He is a genius at education (leading folks out of narrownesses) and "inducation" (leading folks into their core fears and hopes. For many Shakespeare, literature, and the arts, are decoration, icons for culture. For Kevin and everyone at Sh & Co, they are the core of what just might make us more human and humane.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have nothing but high praise for Shakespeare & Company. The dedication, support and devotion the entire company and staff showed me throughout and beyond the training period is beyond compare. The work is profound and life changing with lasting impact. Shakespeare & Company is without a doubt, the finest and most thorough Shakespeare training program in the nation.

Review from Guidestar

Mark I.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been connected with S&Co in a variety of ways since 1989. Initially I came down to visit a friend who was training with the company. At that point I was blown away by the productions - they were so accessible to all audience members. Subsequently I attended two month-long training sessions and could not get enough of this incredibly powerful work. From there I trained with one of their faculty privately and started to help teach at the workshops. And finally I graduated to full faculty myself. Although it has been a few years since I have worked for the company I still believe it is the best place in North America to learn how to perform Shakespeare and their public productions lead the way in terms of how one continues to make Shakespeare accessible, relevant and fun for all. This company truly merits all the support it gets.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Co came to my school when I was 16. They set the place ablaze. Kids from all parts of the school came together and explored and learned and performed. They came back several times, and it became a highlight and transformational experience for our town. I now run a Shakespeare company in Boston, and have met colleagues from across the US who testify to the transformational influence of Shakespeare & Co on their actors, directors, and teachers. They are pioneers and a treasure. Thank you to Shakespeare & Co for all you do and have done for many generations of theater-goers and students.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've enjoyed being an audience member numerous times at Shakespeare & Company, every year since I discovered it more than 15 years ago. I've also taken their weekend seminars for the fine professional training. This is an unusually distinctive company. The best production I've ever seen was a Midsummer Night's Dream performed by Shakespeare & Company.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Training with a quality second to none. So passionate, knowledgable and dedicated, the whole faculty is focused on engaging, encouraging and enlivening this and the next generations in the joy of Shakespeare.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I spent the greater part of my young adult life either learning from or working for Shakespeare and Company. The youth programs, from the Fall Festival, to Summer and Spring Young Company, helped shape me into the adult I am today, and the opportunity to participate in trainings, and later teach the youth programs that had been so instrumental in my own development was truly a gift.
Regardless of where I go in life, I know I will be taking all of the years of work and learning at this wonderful company with me.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My first acquaintance with Shakespeare & Co. was in l987 when I was fortunate enought to win an NEH grant to participate in a Summer Institute for Secondary Teachers and then returned as an assistant the following summer. From there, the curtains stayed up - with Shakespeare & Co. joining us to Great Neck Schools to perform and do workshops - winning the minds and hearts of hundreds of students each season. Fast forward to 2010 when four of my grandsons finally reached the appropriate age (7-17) to participate in the Riotous Youth summer program. In addition to learning how to understand and speak Shakespeare , they gained an astounding degree of self-confidence, motivation, and skill: a magical combination. We plan to return for the summer of 2011 with eager anticipation.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Over the last 33 years, Shakespeare & Company has become an essential and irreplaceable part of the Berkshire community. Aside from a long history of spectacular, moving, and hilarious Shakespeare productions, the company offers training programs for professional actors from around the world that cannot be found elsewhere. By creating these opportunities whereby actors, directors, and educators come together to train and learn from each other, this company had rendered a cadre of top teachers who've gone out into the world and dramatically changed the way that theatre is taught at all levels of education, and thus, improved the theatrical productions, television, and films we see. Shakespeare & Company deserves all of the support they can get.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I cannot write enough about the educational programs Shakespeare & Company provides, both to professionals in the field (I am one who has benefitted enormously) and to young people. I've witnessed firsthand S&Co's work in high schools and have spoken with countless teens who literally have been changed by the experience of learning and doing Shakespeare through the program. Not only has the experience launched in them a life-long love of Shakespeare (which they certainly did not have prior), but they've learned a great deal about themselves in the process and have come away feeling powerful, capable, talented and smart, able to achieve more than they realized they could. Shakespeare & Co. is shaping young people to be their best selves moving forward. It's remarkable to see.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an educator of middle-school aged youth, I respect the quality and energy of the Shakespeare & Co. performances that I am able to bring my students to witness, review and re-enact. The actors bring zest and vitality, truly bring the text to life for young teens. Attending the performances is the absolute highlight of my class for youngsters who would not otherwise experience live theater.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Company has the greatest training program in North America for actors, teachers and directors on their path to mastering the work of playing and presenting Shakespeare!

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My weekend training experience was the single most effective training experience I have ever had, and I've been doing theater since I was ten years old. There were no complex theories, there were no embarrassing games. What there was, was a simple way of connecting the breath here and now with the text, a way to access not memory but emotion here and now. And although there are many excellent books on the subject, it was the well-trained, compassionate, intelligent actor who led the workshop that made this method useful. Through careful questioning, he arrived at exactly the right method for each of us to connect to the text, whether it was starting to talk at just the right emotional moment or running in circles until we had to use our breath. I'm still not sure how he did it, but I've never felt so good about myself or my craft as I did after this weekend.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Shakespeare & Co. is unique as it presents wonderful productions year-round, as well as incredible training and educational programs.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Doing great work for the planet!

I am an alum of their training program, an occasional volunteer, and a grateful audience member. It would take a book to describe the integrity, aesthetic and commitment that these people have for their craft, their trainees and for their audiences. As a result of the training I received at S&Co., I have started two Shakespeare festivals, created a touring production, and continued to teach and direct Shakespeare in the schools.

Review from Guidestar