"I've learned more from the Shakespeare Society than just about any other PD organization in eighteen years of teaching. And my students have benefited profoundly."
~ Avram Kline, New Design High School
The Shakespeare Society's Educational Programs
The Shakespeare Society’s educational outreach program is based on the belief that through our work students not only come to a better understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare, they also learn more about themselves and their relationships with others. Reading, acting, and discovering Shakespeare’s plays can be a profoundly personal journey for students and their teachers.
The Shakespeare Society views each educational program as a laboratory not only to develop literary and performance-based skills, but also to nurture skills that serve students throughout their lives. These include listening and responding, public speaking, self-presentation, diction and enunciation, relaxation techniques, physical and emotional self-assessment, self-discipline, and teamwork. Importantly, The Shakespeare Society’s educational programs integrate current academic goals and the New York State Board of Education learning standards. For more information about our Educational programming contact Sarah Abrams at 212-967-6804.
Our program consists of five initiatives: Shakespeare In Schools, The Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble, Shakespeare After School, Shakespeare Insights Teen Internship Program and Teaching Teachers, as well as collaboration with a blog called "Shakespeare in the City," all detailed below:
Shakespeare in the City
As artists and educators we believe that exploring the work of Shakespeare is a physical, intellectual and artistic process. We look forward to creating a blog that supports fellow educators in similar pursuits. Our goal is to highlight the varied ways students, educators and artists can engage in Shakespeare by highlighting the diverse ways different arts organizations in New York City address the Bard: public performance by professional actors, in-school workshops to support student’s understanding of the texts, professional development to support teachers develop their own tool box to address Shakespeare in their classroom.
On the 23rd of each month, members of the New York City Educators Roundtable will be submitting entries to the blog that explore a particular interest, concern or question they have as it relates to the teaching and performing of Shakespeare. Between these “major” posts, there will be other posts that will include links to local performances, workshops, lectures and discussions.
Find out more at http://shakespeareinthecity.wordpress.com/.
Shakespeare In Schools
Our Shakespeare In Schools initiative reaches thousands of ethnically diverse students in numerous schools in all five boroughs of New York City. These students have had little or no exposure to arts in education, and some of the teachers who are expected to teach them Shakespeare have barely studied him themselves. In New York City schools, most young people only read Shakespeare, and, especially if English is not their first language, Shakespeare's vast vocabulary is often beyond the initial grasp of most children the Shakespeare Society serves. Bringing Shakespeare into the body presents the right amount of challenge for young people, and helps to bring the plays and poetry to life in their hearts. Recognizing that research has proven that exposure to and participation in the arts has a powerful and positive effect on educational achievement and self-esteem, the Shakespeare Society sends classically-trained professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms.
Our actors draw young people into the world of Shakespeare through movement, speech and performance. Teaching through performance helps students to internalize the language and meaning of the plays and to have fun! This program also helps the wonderful teachers with whom we work to deepen their own understanding of Shakespeare, to develop a repertory of methods for helping their students to connect with Shakespeare substantively, and to increase the confidence with which they teach Shakespeare when our actors are not there. Residencies range from one to ten sessions, and each one is the result of a customized, hands-on process of development and collaboration with teachers.
In addition, the teachers with whom we collaborate may submit a written proposal at any time during the school year to request funds for specific classroom needs relating to Shakespeare. In the past, these grants have provided textbooks, DVDs, and tickets to Shakespeare productions.
Teachers! Please Click Here to fill out a residency request form.
The Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble
a collaboration with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children
On May 17th, 18th and 19th, 2013, in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, the poorest Congressional district east of the Mississippi, 50 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from three Hunts Point schools will star in a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Twice a week, from the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Ensemble members rehearse with the Shakespeare Society’s dedicated team of teaching artists. This season will continue our collaboration with Sing For Hope, and performances will feature the Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Chorus, who will be performing music for Romeo and Juliet in specially arranged settings. In addition, this year we will be adding a stage combat ensemble, directed by certified-stage combat director Michael Littig. Inspired by the success of the Ensemble's previous five productions, 2008's A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2009's Tempest, 2010’s As You Like It, 2011's Twelfth Night, and 2012's A Midsummer Night's Dream (each seen by an audience of more than 600), The Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble's performance of Romeo and Juliet is sure to be a smashing success and a testament to the transformative power of Shakespeare’s words.
Students work with the original text, learning to read, understand, speak, memorize and perform a Shakespeare play. This rigorous and intensive nine-month long creative and literary process is of particular importance in Hunts Point, a neighborhood where academic performance is generally far below national standards. Students who participate in our program are better prepared for future academic and creative pursuits, avoid in advance the "fear" of Shakespeare that often afflicts older students and adults, and vastly expand their working vocabulary.
In collaboration with our wonderful partner, the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, the Shakespeare Society works intensively with these children for an entire academic year on one Shakespeare play. Total immersion in the play, memorizing hundreds of lines and, after nine months of rehearsal and study, performing the play, is, we believe, the only way for these children to experience Shakespeare profoundly enough that he and they can together transform the landscape of their minds. Our students form an ensemble where teamwork, the creative process, commitment and rigor all come together in a performance that is fully produced, complete with sets, costumes and live musicians.
Shakespeare After School
Shakespeare After School is a new initiative designed to reach students during out of school time. Teaching artists offer six-week to seventeen-week residencies to students enrolled in several of the city’s after-school programs, starting with second grade. Partners include the YMCA of Greater New York, Hunter College Elementary School and The Hunts Point Alliance for Children. Students reap the benefits of playing with Shakespeare's verse, speaking the language, performing sonnets and scenes from the plays and, we hope, eliminating the fear factor associated with the Bard before they have to tackle his works in school.
Combining academic rigor with the fun of acting out Shakespeare’s plays, this program is a unique way to introduce Shakespeare to young people outside school time and to integrate appreciation of his works into everyday life. Students explore themes that come up in current events and relate such themes to specific Shakespearean texts. Residencies often culminate in small performances or community events.
In addition to providing teachers with the invaluable experience of working and collaborating with a teaching artist in the classroom, the Shakespeare Society's education department provides professional development workshops for teachers. Drawing on the skills of well known educators, critics and actors, teachers learn innovative ways to teach Shakespeare, and share ideas and classroom experience with one another. School administrators are also invited to attend these sessions in order to encourage them to champion the expansion of arts education in their schools.
Last year the Society organized three full day professional development seminars led by Wendy Halm-Violette. Over 100 teachers from city public schools attended, and, by coordinating with the Department of Education, the Shakespeare Society was able to provide such teachers with essential professional development credits.
This year's workshops include:
"Teaching Macbeth" ~ Tuesday, November 5, 2013
"Teaching Othello" ~ Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Click here for PD flyer
"Teaching A Midsummer Night's Dream" ~ Friday, March 14, 2014 Click here for PD flyer
In order to be eligible for our workshops, teachers must be members at the Academic discount level. Click HERE to become a member. To register for a workshop, email Michelle Palmour at
or call (212) 967-6802.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2011
The Shakespeare Society hosts
AN EVENING FOR SHAKESPEARE TEACHERS
with The Public Theater’s TITUS ANDRONICUS
5:00 p.m. “Teaching Titus,” a short workshop with Robert Young, Head of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library
6:15 p.m. A light supper and conversation with colleagues
7:30 p.m. TITUS ANDRONICUS performance starring Jay O. Sanders directed by Michael Sexton, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Society.
Fee: $5 includes workshop, dinner, performance, and take aways