Kyle Ware, Melinda Beck, Jeremy Sapp, Gracie Taylor, Tony Milder, Megan Massie, Karin Partin Wells, Kelsey Thompson, Hannah Eileen Pruitt, & Renea Barbie Brown.
Forging New Relationships with the Community
By Rachel White
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Rachel White. All rights reserved.
From A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the touring show of Hamlet, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Kentucky Shakespeare had a stellar summer. Armed with a new producing Artistic Director, Matt Wallace, Education Program Manager Hannah Pruitt and a newly appointed Director of Education, Kyle Ware, they are capping on that momentum, expanding their workshops, and launching new community partnerships throughout Louisville and the region.
In the small Art Space building on West Broadway, I got to pop in on some rehearsals and speak with Mr. Ware about his work with the education team. He is the director of Living History, one of the company’s touring shows. The actors, Renea Brown, Jeremy Sapp, and Gracie Taylor, are in rehearsal for We the People, a historical performance piece focusing on the history of the United States. Even at the end of the workday the actors and director seem eager to share their work. They sing and improvise dance steps to Quad City DJ’s Com N’ Ride the Train, in an illustration of Westward Expansion.
Ware explains that the shows need to be malleable and the performers willing to adapt, as they must be prepared to inhabit large auditoriums as well as small classrooms. He is also concerned that the actors put their stamp on the material: “The actors will be doing this for a year, it’s important that their input is there.” Though the actors must be letter perfect when it comes to the text, he describes the process as organic.
Kentucky Shakespeare’s programming continues to expand. In addition to Living History, their workshops include Bard Buddies, in which students participate in a performance of The Tempest, and Fairy Tales from Around the World, a performance of multicultural fairy tales. They have served one million children and are hosting more workshops than ever before. There is even a math residency, which hones student math skills through lessons in technical theater and set building.
Other workshops include, Boy Meets Girl Meets Shakespeare, an interactive performance workshop that explores three scenes from three different Shakespeare plays, including The Tempest, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. There is also the Two Person Tempest, where students will engage with actors in a creative performance of The Tempest. Both of these programs are led by teaching artists, Megan Massie and Tony Milder. In the spring, Kentucky Shakes will perform a six-person tour of Macbeth. They will tour schools and parks, as they did with Hamlet last year.
When I ask if there is anything especially exciting about the program’s future, Ware points to the budding partnerships they have fostered within the community. They already have connections with Shakespeare Behind Bars, Our Lady of Peace Alternative Academy, and Louisville Metro Parks, and are looking to make further connections with other local theater companies.
In addition to all this programming, they offer residencies and workshops that can be customized and tailored to fit the needs of the school or program.
The group is eager to talk about the program and show me around. Drawings from happy students plaster the wall. The pride in the work is palpable and the atmosphere, one of new beginnings, and renewed enthusiasm.
Kentucky Shakespeare will perform a candlelight reading of Macbeth on October 25 at 8:00 pm
at the ReSurfaced location, 615-621 West Main Street
323 West Broadway
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
[box_light]Rachel White received her MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama, and her BA in English and Dramatic from Centre College. New York Her work has been produced atThe New School, the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the American Globe Theater, and at the Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA. In Louisville, she has had productions at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, the Tim Faulkner Gallery, and Finnigan Productions. She is a recipient of the Litwin Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting, and was recently a semi-finalist in the Labute New Theater Festival. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and the Playwrights Gallery in New York.[/box_light]