The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday June 20th

PlayMakers awarded $25K grant for Shakespeare

The famous Shakespeare quote will come to life in an immersive way for students throughout the region.

PlayMakers’ Repertory Company has been awarded a $25,000 grant as part of the Shakespeare in American Communities program. The grant will go towards the teaching artist residency program in conjunction with their fall production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“It allows us to contextualize the play and give young people tools so they can have a really big experience when viewing the play,” said Joseph Haj, PlayMakers producing artistic director.

The grant, awarded by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, aims to inspire students to be informed theatergoers and active participants within the arts community.

It will allow support for more than 600 students throughout 10 schools, a majority of them a part of Title I, across North Carolina and in Virginia.

Students will receive free tickets to the fall performance of the play, two teaching artist visits before and after the viewing of the play, as well as graphic novels, texts and study guides to help them along with the viewing.

Jeff Meanza, PlayMakers associate artistic director, said they have worked with the grant program since 2008. Other PlayMakers Shakespeare works that have been awarded in the past include “As You Like It,” “Henry IV,” “Henry V” and “The Tempest.”

“For many of these students it will be their first time seeing a professional production, and in particular, seeing their first Shakespeare play,” Meanza said.

Jenny Wales, PlayMakers education manager, said she feels its important for students to be exposed to Shakespeare because a lot of the issues are still relevant today.

“I believe that Shakespeare is a masterful writer and dramatist, and what he writes about is the universal human experience,” she said.

Haj said seeing the production with seasoned professionals is what allows themes to come forward the most.

“Having students actually be part of a top-level professional production of a Shakespeare play is a big deal, and in some cases, it makes kids fans of Shakespeare for a lifetime,” he said. “It is in our mission statement to nurture the next generation of theater artists and audiences, and that’s in the very center of what this grant does.”

Contact the desk editor at arts@dailytarheel.com.



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