I took the Month Intensive in January of 1999 and found it to be a life and career changing experience! The great information was one thing, but the methods of working and the passion for the process is what was truly inspiring. Since then I have returned for several other workshops, all equally well run and taught.
Shakespeare & Company is by far the most inspiring company that I have ever worked with. They consistently bring together the most talented and passionate people in their fields to create vital pieces of theatre. In particular, the volunteers that donate their time to this company, do so with joy and passion that is unsurpassed by any other company I have worked with. All together, the experience of working there is essential to my (and many others') growth as an artist and a human being.
As an educator with 44 years of experience in teaching high school English, I have participated in countless professional development workshops and meetings. No professional development has come close to matching the powerful positive impact of the programs offered by Shakespeare and Company. Not only was my own teaching enlivened and deepened by exposure to the talented and dedicated actors of the company, but my entire school district was transformed into Shakespeare enthusiasts. The first daylong workshop I attended gave me a wealth of new tools with which to teach the plays and, more importantly, made the sense of "play" a key part of my approach to introducing students to Shakespeare. The risk-taking that Kevin Coleman demonstrated and encouraged in the little band of educators was a gift that carried on to my students as I asked them to go far beyond just reading the text into living the emotions of the characters. Then came my opportunity to participate in a month-long workshop "Shakespeare and the Rose Theater." That was truly transformative for me. I met and questioned world-renowned scholars in the field; I struggled along with my peers to memorize lines; I went on stage and felt the pain of a father losing his son to Macbeth's tyranny and the bawdiness of a tavernkeeper's wife who entertained Henry V. I returned to school ready to lead the entire district in a Renaissance festival, the centerpiece of which was an in-house performance by "Shakespeare and Company." An entire public high school in rural upstate New York dressed themselves in handmade Renaissance costumes, ate a banquet of authentic foods hosted by a queen and king, performed contradances, and enjoyed jesters and jousting matches. The information, the enthusiasm, and the attitudes I learned from the dedicated staff at "Shakespeare and Company" have, over the years, allowed me and other teachers like me to bring to life for thousands of students the ideas and emotions of Othello and Macbeth and Hamlet that otherwise would be mere words on a page. The tradition of inviting "Shakespeare and Company" to our district has continued, despite budget limitations, for over a decade, clear evidence that the entire district has been "hooked" by the Company's fine performances and student-friendly attitudes. I am deeply grateful for the experiences offered me by Shakespeare and Company and can only hope that others will be able to be similarly affected over the coming years.
Shakespeare and Company is an invaluable organization for the arts. As an actor it provided me training and performance experiences that were transformational. (Even though it's almost 15 years since my stint there, I can use that word without reservation.) It has imbued me with a sense not only of gratitude, but of community, such that it is one of the landmarks in my 35-year career as an actor. There are many moments from my time there that defy easy description, but that will stay with me for the rest of my life. More than that, Shakespeare and Company sees itself as an inseparable part of its community. From its longstanding annual touring of New England schools, to the many ways it involves itself with the Lenox, Mass. community, to its vanguard efforts to widen casting opportunities for actors from ethnic minorities, it is a community resource whose absence would be felt mightily if – god forbid – it failed to survive. The place Shakespeare and Company holds in the American and international theatre community can't be given enough emphasis.
Transformative. I've taken various training programs over the years since 1983, when I took my first Linklater voice class with Andrea Haring. I've done two month-long intensives, and assisted the amazing Tina Packer on a production. Their work has informed my aesthetic, challenged me to think about Shakespearean performance in new ways, and introduced me to other producers, performers and scholars that shape my rehearsal process. Since working with Shakespeare & Company I have co-founded two Shakespeare Festivals, and am running one of them now. Shake & Co. is a treasure. I highly recommend their company.