This year, All The World’s A Stage piloted a new “Teaching Shakespeare” program in partnership with the Stratford Festival, Stratford, Ontario. The experience was not only successful beyond our expectations, but one that our kids and their families won’t soon forget. The program began in August 2012, when staff artists Lou Fazzini, Lisa Dobbin, and Mary Kay Hake attended an intense three day teaching Shakespeare workshop at the Stratford Festival. Working with Stratford actors and educational specialists, the program focused on how to teach the plays of Shakespeare not as literature, but as theatre - the way Shakespeare intended. Following the three day workshop, Laura Condlln, an eleven year veteran actor with the Stratford Festival, was assigned to work with our staff and students.

 

This phase of the program was followed with a field trip to Stratford, where on the morning of September 22, 2012, our students participated in a three hour acting workshop conducted by Ms. Condlln. That afternoon our 67 students and family members attended a production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Festival Theatre. Following the production, our group met backstage with twenty-six year veteran Stratford stage actor, Keith Dinicol, for a Q & A session about the show, and the experiences and advice of a professional actor.

 

ATWAS students then returned to our studio, where, under the direction of Lisa and Mary Kay, they began work on a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that was to be adjudicated by Stratford actors and educators on November 21, 2012 in Stratford, Ontario.

 

On November 10, Ms. Condlln and Stratford actor, Timothy Stickney, visited our studio in Romeo, where a second workshop and scene assessment was conducted for our upcoming adjudicated A Midsummer Night’s Dream scene.

 

On Wednesday Nov. 21, 2012, ATWAS actors, staff and families returned to Stratford, Ontario for their adjudication and final phase of this pilot program. Following our tech and dress rehearsal, our young actors had yet another workshop experience with three Stratford actors, just prior to the presentation of their scene. Finally, at 11:30am on November 21, 2012, our young actors performed their scene on the Studio Theatre stage in Stratford under the watchful eyes of Stratford actors, educators, family and friends.

 

Their work, under the direction of Lisa and Mary Kay, received high praise by the adjudication team of Stratford actors and education specialists. We are thrilled to have been invited to return again next year, and we look forward to that return in 2013. We could not be more proud and honored to be associated as a partner with such a prestigious and professional theatre as the Stratford Festival. We, in Michigan, are indeed fortunate to have what is arguably the best theatre program in North America but a stones throw away from our front door.

 

As the founder of ATWAS, I could not be more proud of the work of Lisa and Mary Kay, our young actors, and our wonderful parents for all of their support. I do hope that each of our students remember fondly this incredible experience throughout their life. I know I will never forget it, and I thank you all for helping make this experience the success it proved to be.

 

The Stratford Partnership Experience

-Lou Fazzini, December 2, 2012