Shakespeare for youth

Mary Jackson-Smith believes the beauty of Shakespeare’s language is learned best by speaking his words and acting out scenes from his plays. That is her motivation for inviting youth ages 9 to 18 to join a new theatre program for Cache Valley, “Logan Youth Shakespeare”. She said her children got involved in a youth Shakespeare program last year while the family was on sabbatical leave in Wisconsin. “I volunteered there for awhile, then I was hired to direct Julius Caesar,” she said, “so that’s where a lot of the ideas for this program come from. That program has been operating successfully in Madison for 30 years.” For several years Jackson-Smith has been involved with four or five different productions through her children’s school (Edith Bowen) and she also enjoyed last year’s experience in Wisconsin with 22 young students in two casts doing a full length production of Julius Caesar. She said the debut workshop for Logan Youth Shakespeare will be “Two’s Company” with classes every Thursday at the Bullen Center from November 5-February 11. “The first night we’ll start with parent meeting at five o’clock for the first half hour, then I’ll send the parents away and get started working with the kids. There’s a niche for kids who want to take their involvement in theatre just a little farther, really get in depth, and I think Shakespeare has a unique appeal with kids. I think that’s partly because of the challenge.” She emphasizes it isn’t a lecture program. “The kids will have parts, we will not have auditions, and everyone who registers gets a fairly substantial role. We’ll start with a two-person scene workshop. The hope is we’ll end up with a group of kids that have learned the process through the workshop, then next summer we’ll do a full length play.” She said when each of the children receive their parts they will also be able to take home with them audio material she is creating to be able to listen to both the correct pronunciation of the lines and also line-by-line explanations of what the words mean. Registration forms may be downloaded at the Alliance for the Varied Arts web site, or children may register at the first class, November 5, at the Bullen Center. Tuition is $95 which Jackson-Smith said figures out to about $4 an hour.

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