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Arts Midwest Awards Shakespeare in American Communities Grants

Arts Midwest, in partnership with the NEA, awards $1.7 million to support Shakespeare programs with theatre companies, schools, and the juvenile justice system.

MINNEAPOLIS: Arts Midwest has announced the recipients of its Shakespeare in American Communities grants. Of the $1.17 million grant funds, $1 million will be awarded to professional theatre companies partnering with schools, and $170,000 will be given to organizations partnering with facilities in the juvenile justice system.

Shakespeare in American Communities is a theatre program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The program, now in its 18th year, supports high-quality productions and educational activities in middle schools, high schools, and juvenile justice facilities throughout the U.S. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,  performances and educational events created with the grants may take place virtually or in person between Aug. 1 of this year and July 31, 2021.

“Many of Shakespeare’s plays were written during a plague,” said Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest’s senior program director, in a statement. “Major works like Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest were created in a time of extreme difficulty and adversity. The goal of Shakespeare in American Communities has always been to help Shakespeare’s works come alive for students, allowing young people to develop social and emotional skills important to their success. We’re proud that this work continues despite the challenges of this year, thanks to our theatre companies who are pivoting their programming to help students connect with Shakespeare, teaching artists, and actors in new ways.”

Among this year’s activities will be Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program, which combines Shakespeare in live performance with research on bullying and school violence. Professional actors will perform a stripped-down version of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by artistic director Timothy Orr. The company will gather actors in August and September for an in-person staging, employing social distancing and heightened safety measures, which will be filmed and shared with schools. The filmed production will be accompanied by real-time virtual educational workshops with teaching artists aimed to help students practice strategies for preventing violence and bullying in their schools.

Another project will be Nebraska Shakespeare’s 15th season of Shakespeare on Tour, featuring a production of Macbeth. This tour will use a hybrid of live and filmed performances by professional actors accompanied by workshops to help students expand their comprehension of the text, broaden their vocabulary, and build communication skills. If a completely virtual program is necessary, the company will provide a real-time virtual pre- and post-show opportunity for students to interact with actors and ask questions.

Also part of the programming will be the Texas Shakespeare Festival‘s abridged productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet, which will be presented to schools throughout the state as part of their Roadshow Tour. In addition to the performance, related educational activities will include their Activating Shakespeare Workshop, post-performance talkback with actors, and study guide and lesson plan that meets the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Standards.

The full list of 2020 recipients are below:

  • A Noise Within, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Charlestown, Mass.
  • African-American Shakespeare Company, San Francisco
  • Alley Theatre, Houston
  • American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisc.
  • Aquila Theatre, Katonah, N.Y.
  • Atlanta Shakespeare Company
  • Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Va.
  • Cal Shakes, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Chicago Shakespeare Theater
  • Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Boulder, Colo.
  • Delaware Shakespeare, Wilmington, Del.
  • Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland
  • Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Cold Spring, N.Y.
  • Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise, Idaho
  • Kentucky Shakespeare, Louisville, Ky.
  • Lantern Theater Company, Philadelphia
  • Marin Shakespeare Company, San Rafael, Calif.
  • Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Bozeman, Mont.
  • Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Nebraska Shakespeare, Omaha, Neb.
  • Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, Olney, Md.
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore.
  • Orlando Shakes, Orlando, Fla.
  • Park Square Theatre Company, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, Pa.
  • PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Red Bull Theater, New York City
  • Seattle Shakespeare Company
  • Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, Mass.
  • The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles
  • Shakespeare Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.
  • Shakespeare Behind Bars, Macatawa, Mich.
  • Shakespeare Dallas
  • Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Mo.
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.
  • The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Madison, N.J.
  • Tennessee Shakespeare Compan, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Texas Shakespeare Festival, Kilgore, Texas
  • Theater at Monmouth, Monmouth, Maine
  • Theatre for a New Audience, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Theatreworks, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, Utah
  • Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga, Calif.

Since 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has brought live Shakespeare productions to more than three million middle and high school students. The program has supported more than 13,100 performances and 51,000 related educational activities at more than 11,000 schools and juvenile justice facilities in 4,500 communities in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. A total of 127 theatre companies and organizations across the U.S. have taken part in the program, presenting 34 of Shakespeare’s 37 total plays.

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