Youth & Community

Shakespeare In The Schools

SIR’s commitment to bringing Shakespeare’s words to the widest possible audience goes beyond their obvious artistic value. We have established educational programs which operate from a simple theory: if we can help a person to achieve something they never thought possible (understanding, enjoying, and even performing Shakespeare), it may help them find the confidence to accomplish any number of things in their lives. At the very least, students will certainly have become better equipped for the study of Shakespeare which is so prevalent in western education.

An extensive study guide is prepared for each of our Main Stage and Stripped-Down productions: replete with a synopsis, cast of characters, exercises, and links to supplementary resource materials, these study guides are distributed to the teachers as a tool for preparing their students and increasing their comprehension, which in turn maximizes their enjoyment.

Every student performance is prefaced with an informal pre-show chat between student audiences and a member of the cast, and finishes with a post-show question and answer session between the students and the entire company.

The pre-show component is designed to prepare the students for what they are about to see (including a basic plot synopsis, conceptual choices, etc.), and as a means of establishing a relationship with them in advance: welcoming them into our world and hopefully taking a few bricks out of the wall of defense to which young people are so often predisposed.

The post-show Q & A is meant as a forum for the audience to talk about their thoughts and impressions of the show, reveal a few tricks of the trade, and hopefully instigate further discussion once they’ve returned to their classrooms.

Shakespeare in Action

Shakespeare in Action, in its current format, is a one hour workshop designed to give participants the chance to participate in basic techniques and exercises used by a professional actor when tackling a scene from Shakespeare: thereby demystifying the language, and offering them the visceral thrill of power and discovery that comes with harnessing Shakespeare’s language to a dramatic action.

  • Cost: $150
  • Class size:  35 students
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Call the Shakespeare in the Ruins office for more details

Shakespeare In The City

A vital part of SIR’s mandate is to foster a life-long love of theatre (especially Shakespeare), particularly among youth.  To that end we have developed a youth and community program which focuses on students that are at risk of not attaining a high school level education: Shakespeare in the City (SITC).

This program takes young people from the inner-city (Winnipeg’s CEDA Pathways to Education North-End Campus) and gives them the opportunity to experience first-hand the transformative power of theatre, and Shakespeare in particular. By working with them throughout the school year toward a final presentation, this program has changed the way young people look at their lives, suggesting the possibility of escaping challenging circumstances and increasing their chances for a positive, productive future. For 2014/2015, we have expanded the SITC program to include a fall term (September – November) focusing on theory and skills development, and a winter term (February – May) which will be dedicated to rehearsing the final presentation of Stripped-Down Romeo & Juliet.

Our goal is to encourage young people who are unfamiliar with theatre and acting to embrace the spirit of personal discovery through an active study of Shakespeare.  These workshops are aimed at overcoming the students’ existing prejudices surrounding the text, while building their self-confidence and ability to work as a team.

Live theatre has the power to inspire people to dream bigger, and to be more open to expressing who they are as individuals.  It has the power to broaden their empathy while expanding their horizons.  Distilled to its essence, we see the program as a model for breaking free of limitations that can seemingly be imposed by peers or life circumstances.