Director’s Notes: Shakespeare’s Stories

For many people, Shakespeare can feel like a foreign language. Some are intimidated by the length of the plays; the big words and strange contractions. On the page, Shakespeare can feel daunting, but the key is to speak it aloud. Shakespeare is meant to be played.

I’ve been wanting to produce Shakespeare here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine for a long time. After reading Ken Ludwig’s book, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, and cutting edge research from the Royal Shakespeare Company relating to Shakespeare and early literacy, I finally felt we were ready. It’s never too late to become familiar with this language and these stories. The Museum & Theatre is the perfect place for the synchronization of young actors approaching the material for the first time, and a young audience discovering the magic of these stories.

With the generous help of our long-time friend and supporter, the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, we have enhanced this production beyond our normal capacity. We hired guest directors, and it has been a pleasure to watch Allison, Marjolaine and Kristen bring us to new depths as actors and designers. We offered Shakespeare acting workshops, hosted “Shakespeariments” with young visitors and had a whole Shakespeare themed summer here at the Museum & Theatre. I am excited to continue this work beyond the summer. I think our work with Shakespeare and early literacy development has only just begun!

Now all that’s missing is you, the audience. Young children are constantly learning new words, and they approach vocabulary fearlessly. A young audience watches before they listen, identifies with the movement on the stage and takes in characters at face value. I eagerly await the young audience members filling the seats of the Dress Up Theater, encountering these magical stories for the very first time!

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Reba Short Joins Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artists Roster

The Maine Arts Commission is excited to offer a free online roster which features Maine-based professional artists, with skills and experience teaching learners of various ages, PK-12. The Teaching Artists are available to conduct high-quality learning opportunities for students in school settings and community organizations that offer arts education. We encourage educators and those responsible for arts education to utilize the roster by communicating directly with the Teaching Artists. To view the current roster of PK-12 Teaching Artists please click here.

The latest release of MAC’s Teaching Artist roster has included our very own Theatre Artistic Director, Reba Short. Congratulations, Reba!

 

Teaching Artists are professional artists who are dedicated to lifelong learning and arts education, have made it an integral part of their professional practice, and who have cultivated skills as educators in concert with their skills as artists.

The Maine Arts Commission selected these artists after conducting an application process with careful review of each applicant. The artists on the roster have demonstrated mastery of an artistic discipline, knowledge and expertise in sequential arts instruction, good communications skills, planning and organizational ability, and an understanding of their target learners.

Reflecting on this announcement, Reba shares,

“I’ve aspired to be a MAC teaching artist for a long time. I think this an opportunity for collaborative work with teachers and schools, taking the grant funded outreach work I do to a new level. I also see this as a calling to be an advocate for arts education in the state. It’s a great honor to be added to this list!”

“Shakespeare’s Stories” On Sale Now!

Discover a shipwreck, find a witch’s spell, and meet a donkey who was once a man! In our summer production of Shakespeare’s Stories, we will perform shortened adaptations of The Tempest, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and discover the magic of Shakespeare’s original language.

Wizards, witches, fairies and kids all come together to celebrate the historical works of theatre’s most notorious playwright. This project is part of our summer Shakespeare celebration, proving it’s never too early (or too late!) to learn some Shakespeare!

Based on the original stories of William Shakespeare, adapted by Allison McCall, Kristen Voyvodich, Marjolaine Whittlesey, and Reba Short. This production is possible with the generous support of the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust.

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PERFORMANCES:
Wednesday, July 22 / show at 6pm (7pm Gala)
Thursday, July 23 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Friday July, 24 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Saturday, July 25 / show at 11am
Sunday July, 26 / show at 2pm
Wednesday, July 29 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Thursday, July 30 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Friday, July 31 / shows at 2pm & 5pm
Saturday, August 1 / show at 11am
Sunday, August 2nd / show at 2pm

Improvisation with our Theatre Actors!

Do you know what our actors love to do when they aren’t rehearsing? They play improv games, and they want to play some for you! In the spirit of shows like “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”, you’re invited to join us for games like “What are you doing?”, “Freeze” and “Bus stop!” We aren’t sure what will happen, but we guarantee you’ll laugh!

The Improv Troupe is sponsored by Yankee Restoration & Building.

$3/member, $4/visitor plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk.

May 16th at 2pm.

Click here to purchase tickets online!

Free Shakespeare Workshops for Ages 8-17

Begins today!

In preparation for our summer production Shakespeare’s Stories, we are offering ten free Shakespeare workshops for all interested young actors between the ages of eight to seventeen. This is an opportunity to learn about and experiment with Shakespeare outside a traditional rehearsal process.

Young actors will become familiar with the language of Shakespeare, as well as some of his most magical stories: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, and Macbeth. Only actors that have attended five out of ten Shakespeare Workshops at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine are eligible to be cast in our summer show.

Funding for these free workshops provided by the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust. FMI email reba@kitetails.org.

Workshop dates:

May 5, 7, 9, 12, 14 & 16

June 2, 4, 6, 9 & 11

Workshop times:

Tuesdays & Thursdays from 3:30-6pm

Saturdays from 9:30am-12pm

Shakespeare Is For All Ages!

“But wait, my child’s too young for Shakespeare!” At the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, we say “Nay!”

Young children are not intimidated by Shakespeare. The Royal Shakespeare Company claims Shakespeare should be taught early, four and five year olds are fearless and accustomed to trying out new language and learning new words. In fact, when children encounter Shakespeare at an early age, most of them become highly engaged in the rich and playful language, the stories, and the complex characters.

In a creative and playful setting, Shakespeare’s text can be used to engage and ignite young children with creative word play and vocabulary building. The stories themselves tap into the imagination in imaginative and often archetypal ways. 85% of brain development occurs by age three. A child’s level of language and early literacy skill development in the first five years of life are indicative of future success in school and the workforce.

By exposing young children to Shakespearean text early, we hope to encourage a love of literacy and a fearless drive towards language comprehension.

 

Cheers for Brooks, Our Veteran Actor!

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As many of you know, we just wrapped a fantastic production of “Robin Hood” here at the Museum & Theatre. It was a truly hysterical play written specifically for our Theatre by Brett Askari, and we enjoyed a great run of capacity audiences over the past week and a half.

One standout of this production is our friend Brooks, one of the young actors on stage in “Robin Hood.” Brooks may be a familar name and face to those who come to our Theatre regularly, as Brooks has been in no less than 19 SHOWS during his 9 year run with us here. WOW!

We hope that this isn’t Brooks’ last show with us, as talent like his is a gift to everyone!

Please congratulate Brooks on a his work on “Robin Hood,” and so many more over the years. Thank you, Brooks, for being such a great part of what we do here.