(Washington, DC) — Folger Theatre today announced that it is one of 36 nonprofit, professional theater companies that will receive a grant of $25,000 to participate in Shakespeare for a New Generation from June 1, 2011-May 31, 2012. Part of the NEA’s Shakespeare in American Communities initiative, Shakespeare for a New Generation introduces middle- and high-school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare. Managed by Arts Midwest, the program has benefitted more than 1.5 million students and their teachers with live performances and educational activities since the program began in 2003.
Secondary school students and their teachers from ten Washington, DC-area schools will attend Folger Theatre’s professional performance of Othello, work with a professional teaching artist over fifteen weeks to prepare a script and craft a production, and perform on stage in front of an audience of peers and family members at the Folger’s annual student Shakespeare festival. Participating schools include past participants Benjamin Banneker Academic High School (DCPS), Cardozo High School (DCPS), Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DCPS), Ballou High School (DCPS), Beltsville Academy (PGCPS), Charles Herbert Flowers High School (PGCPS), Suitland High School (PGCPS); and new schools Langley Education Campus for Science (DCPS), Montgomery Blair High School (Montgomery Co. PS), and Lake Braddock Secondary (Fairfax Co. PS).
“Folger artists are doing inspired work in schools, bringing students from classroom to stage in a process that deepens their knowledge of the plays and of themselves,” said Folger Shakespeare Library Director Michael Whitmore. The skills they acquire benefit them long after they’ve left the academic setting. Increased confidence, a willingness to collaborate, and an appreciation for what words can "do" in the world: all of these things add up to a transformative educational experience, one that we can offer in this important initiative in conjunction with the Shakespeare for a New Generation program.
“Seeing a live performance of Shakespeare is a vastly different, more relevant and powerful experience than reading his words alone," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "I'm pleased that the NEA is able to support these projects that connect young people in a vivid and meaningful way to the great plays of Shakespeare."
To date, more than 80 of the nation's theater companies have taken part in the NEA's Shakespeare program since its inception and participating theater companies have presented performances at 5,500 schools in 2,600 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.