Fall Festival of Shakespeare Common Classes Teach Teamwork to High Schoolers

(Lenox, MA) – The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is back for its 29th season, and with it come the integral Common Classes where hundreds of teenagers come together for four classes in Stage Combat, Dance and Movement, Technical Theatre and Performance Preparation. Ten different schools are represented in this year’s Festival, coming from the Berkshires, Pioneer Valley, and eastern New York State. The students join together on four different nights this October to explore, collaborate, and meet each other in celebration instead of competition.

The Fall Festival is the culmination of the nationally recognized program that places Shakespeare & Company Education Artists in ten local and regional schools, where they lead students in a nine-week exploration of a Shakespeare play, and end with a series of performances, first at their respective schools, and then at Shakespeare & Company’s Tina Packer Playhouse. Built on the transformative power of Shakespeare’s language and stories, the Fall Festival engages students in a personally meaningful and educationally rigorous experience of classical theatre.

“Common Classes are a wonderful part of Fall Fest,” said Julie Monteleone, a student from Lenox Memorial High School. “They allow all the participants from all over the county to come together and learn – which is what Fall fest is all about!”

“Common Classes are a chance to have fun, be silly, learn exciting things, and experience new aspects of theatre with a group of complete strangers that become dear friends by the end of the night,” said Claudia Maurino, a student from Monument Mountain Regional High School.

The first Common Class, on October 4, will focus on Stage Combat at Monument Mountain Regional High School. The following three classes will be held at Shakespeare & Company, and include Dance and Movement on October 11, Technical Theatre on October 18, and Performance Preparation on October 25.

“The Common Classes are four occasions, prior to the performances, where students come together from all ten schools delighted to see old friends and to welcome new ones,” said Director of Education, Kevin G. Coleman. “Common Classes are a celebration of each other’s work; the cooperation and support, the courage and risk taking are palpable. The classes are the heartbeat of the festival.”

The ten schools participating in the 2017 Fall Festival of Shakespeare include Berkshire Waldorf High School, Chatham High School (New York), Lee High School, Lenox Memorial High School, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Mount Everett Regional High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, Springfield Central High School, Taconic High School, and Taconic Hills High School (New York). Students from all ten schools will gather in a spirit of celebration to perform their plays for the public in a four-day festival at the Tina Packer Playhouse from Thursday, November 16 through Sunday, November 19.

This program is supported in part by: Deborah and Bill Ryan, Jeffrey Konowitch and Wendy Laurin; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation; the Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, New Marlborough, Sheffield, Springfield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, and West Stockbridge Cultural Councils – Local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; and a coalition of local businesses, families, and individuals.

Kevin G. Coleman
(Director of Education, Board of Trustees, Fight Director, Founding Member of Shakespeare & Company) Kevin is one of Shakespeare & Company’s artistic and administrative leaders. He works in the Performance and Training departments as an actor, teacher and director, and oversees the mission of the Education department. Kevin teaches text analysis, stage combat and clown, and has been a guest teacher or director at MIT, Harvard, L.S.U., Stanford, Shenandoah Shakespeare, Q.U.T.- Brisbane, Lincoln Center, the Folger Library, Shakespeare Festivals in both Stratfords, and the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, UK. Kevin is the Theatre Director at the Austen Riggs Center where he has directed over 30 productions. In 2016, Kevin was Runner-Up for the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.

About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals in the country. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 30,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to Shakespeare & Company’s internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and nationally renowned and award-winning Education Program. More information is available at www.shakespeare.org.

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