Students Learn All Things Shakespeare

When young actors take on William Shakespeare, they are guaranteed to learn more from the experience than just their lines. The Tulane All Things Shakespeare summer program grants local high school students the opportunity to study legendary plays under the guidance of professionals from the company of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane.

At last summer's All Things Shakespeare program, young performers act out a scene from Much Ado About Nothing. They are, from left, Dean Wray as Leonato, Joel Derby as Claudio and Brendan Bowen as Don Pedro. (Photo by Brad Robbert)

Tulane historically has provided a summer program for young actors in New Orleans. However, in the post-Katrina environment, the program became specifically developed for high school students.

All Things Shakespeare operates as a training program for young local actors, ranging in age from 14 to 18. "We occasionally take students younger than 14, as long as they understand the discipline involved," says Clare Moncrief, managing director of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival.

All Things Shakespeare is comprised of two instructive sessions, and participants may sign up for one or both. The first session (June 8–25, Tuesday through Friday from 1–4 p.m.) offers students the opportunity to study theatrical performance. While enhancing presentation skills, students learn complex speech and voice techniques, gain confidence and poise and build bonds with their fellow actors. The second session (July 6–25, Tuesday through Friday) includes a rehearsal and a six-performance run of The Tempest in the Lupin Theatre.

The program remains small, as each student receives one-on-one attention, and everyone who wants a role in the show will receive one. Doubling as a learning and social experience, students often return to the program.

"Most come back at least twice," says Moncrief. "They stun me. The growth from the first rehearsal to the final performance is phenomenal."

The Tempest runs July 22–25 at 7:30 p.m. and July 25–26 at 1:30 p.m. Applications for the first session of All Things Shakespeare are being accepted now.

For more information, call 504-865-5105, ext. 6 or e-mail Moncrief.

Mary Cross is a senior majoring in communication at Tulane.