Stratford Festival’s Michigan Residency

Art Forms: Theatre

Participants: 14 – 25 year olds

Country: USA

Description of the work

It is my pleasure to share a few highlights from the first stint of the Michigan Residency in East Lansing from Oct 25-Nov 2, 2019.

Our incredibly talented teaching artists engaged high school and university students in Shakespeare work through the Shakespeare Immersion Program at the Wharton Centre, rehearsals and lectures at Michigan State University, and at three local high schools (Haslett, Linden and Saginaw). For some of these students, it’s the first time they have had the Bard’s words in their mouths and I just loved witnessing their “ah HA!” moments. Two personal highlights for me were:

1)     The Senior Seminar talk at MSU for students interested in a career in theatre. This was an open discussion for many students in the Department of Theatre and Residential College of Arts & Humanities and included young people with a passion for acting, education, production, playwriting, design, or who were still undecided but had certainly been bit by the theatre bug. Myself and two other talented teaching artists, Ash Knight and the Sonnet Man himself, Devon Glover, spoke about our emergence into our careers and answered as many questions as we could. I handed out many business cards and am sure I’ll hear from some of the more eager students as they pick their path in this sector.

2)     The workshop performance of Hamlet by the Shakespeare Immersion Program at the Wharton Centre. The “To be or not to be” monologue has been ringing in my ears since that electric performance! “Words, words, words” cannot express how proud I am of the huge strides in finding their voices every single student made! If you’d like to watch the final speech of the piece directed by Nic van Burek and assistant SIP teaching artists, Martha Farrell and Marc Bondy, I have linked the video here.

Special thanks for support from Nitasha Rajoo, Bert Goldstein and Laurie Briseno at The Wharton Center, April Oakes and the Michigan Members Executive, students and faculty at Michigan State University.

Some quotes from SIP students at the top of our final rehearsal for your entertainment:

Oliver, “I was like “eh, Shakespeare”, but now I’m really excited to show everyone our show!”
Hope, “This is the best day of my year, when we get to perform the show!”
Kelly, “It’s been an incredible process working with you guys!”
Timmy, “This is the chance to put the final capstone on the process and complete this memory which I will cherish for my whole life.”

Submitted by Breanne Ritchie – Education Associate, Stratford Festival

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