February 18-20 and 23-26, 2015
"Once those ninth graders perform a Shakespeare play, they have the keys to the kingdom. They are bursting with justifiable pride, and full of confidence. When they return from the festival, they rule!"
Make a scene at the Folger!
Our annual Secondary School Shakespeare Festival for students in grades 7-12 is open to schools in DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
Students come to the Folger for a full day and perform prepared pieces from Shakespeare for each other.
Performances usually run for 25 minutes. Abridged versions of the plays or theme-based montages are welcomed, although all text should be in Shakespeare's original language.
While we regard the festival as a celebration of the Bard and not a competition, festival commentators – drawn from the professional theater and Shakespeare education communities – recognize exceptional performances, student directors, and good spirit amongst the students with selected awards at the end of each day. They also share feedback with the students after their performances.
What was new in 2015?
In order to enhance all of the Festival's educational goals, we have made some changes to certain areas of the Festival, outlined below. We intend for these changes to create structures through which students from different schools connect with one another, and underscore the importance of student ownership of the Festival work.
So that greater collaboration among Festival participants from different schools takes place:
We will assign buddy schools in mid-January and we expect schools to start then to form an online community with one another. The application will ask schools to explain how they will do that.
Students will be asked to comment on one another's performances (see below).
To encourage student leadership in all phases of Festival work:
The application will ask for a full list of student contributions to the work, besides acting. It is important to us that students are also directing, editing, stage managing, leading language work, and more.
Our commentators will be fewer in number and will provide encouraging comments and constructive ones, such as "If you are going to keep working on this, here are a couple of areas to focus on..." Commentators will give brief comments after each performance, and will ask for responsible comments from students in the audience.
Each school will be asked to provide a short synopsis of their play as part of their broadside program.
Lastly, upon acceptance into the Festival, each Festival participant will be required to submit an image release form.