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Shakespeare & Company Returns For 26th Year At The Hayground School

here + there :: The Hamptons’ PR Wire

For the 26th year, Shakespeare & Company is in residence at the Hayground School where this year they will stage William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Students, ranging from age 3-13, along with faculty and staff, are immersing themselves in the classic tale of love, revenge, and family drama for three weeks before staging two performances at the Bridgehampton School Auditorium. Free and open to the public, these performances will take place on Thursday, December 14 at 1pm and 6pm.

Shakespeare & Company mentors Ellie Bartz, JoJo McDonald, Kirsten Mulrenan, and Naire Poole traveled to Bridgehampton from their home base in Lennox, MA, to guide the budding performers in a daily series of theatre exercises meant to warm up the body, and expand the mind, before diving into the rich text of Shakespeare.

Often, these theatre games end up with kids dissolving into giggles, which serves to lighten the mood before embarking on what can sometimes be challenging subject matter. Student Sydney A. shares, “Our Shakespeare teachers make me feel happy and silly and just good,” proving that Shakespeare doesn’t have to be so serious. Indeed, as Bartz states, “This play is full of rich material for young actors: comedy and tragedy, beautiful poetry that can hold huge emotions, young people exerting agency in their lives, sword fights, as well as platonic, familial, and romantic love. The tragedy ensues when old grudges are allowed to fester, teaching valuable lessons about anger and forgiveness.”

Thanks to this residency, which is now annual tradition, Hayground students come to learn Shakespeare as a kind of second language. Teaching the material in an age-appropriate way allows even the youngest learners to grow up without the fear and stigma that can sometimes accompany literature. Indeed, Bartz continues, “Learning the story with these students has already been exciting, joyful, hilarious, and heartbreaking; we can’t wait to see how they bring it alive in their version of this play.”

Leo B. revealed that though he was initially unsure about taking on a speaking part in last year’s production of Hamlet, he ended up enjoying his time on stage. “I feel like I can do the same size part, or even more this year,” he said. Learning his lines as Lord Capulet is a challenge, but “worth it when I finally get it in the end,” he says. For many students, stepping into a role is a welcome adventure away from their day-to-day routines. Ian S. explains, “It’s fun to put on a costume and pretend to be someone else on stage,” while Vivian D. reveals that she loves how learning the play is “an interactive experience.” She continues, “As we learned the play, we got to try out different characters…each role is iconic and has a story behind it. I am so excited to see the play come to life.” Teacher Amy Taylor, in her second year participating in the play, is loving the experience, sharing that “Children and adults of literally all ages are working together to practice lines, coordinate scenes, and just plain have fun!”

Students can participate in the play in a capacity most comfortable to them, from non-speaking parts to battle sequences and long monologues, as well as set decoration and design. Parents also contribute how they can, shuttling performers to and from the theatre, helping with costumes and set building, and hosting the director/mentors in their homes, making this a truly community-wide event. Parent Sun S. notes that “As a parent, I feel it’s a wonderful opportunity for children to engage with literature, build confidence, and foster creativity through performing arts.” Bartz concludes about the company’s time at Hayground, “We are grateful to the whole Hayground school community for their warm welcome, support, and flexibility. It is a rare and special privilege to be resident artists in such a place.”

Hayground School’s Visiting Artist Program invites artists, writers, performers, and scientists to lead intensive workshops with Hayground School students. Each performance of Romeo and Juliet will be open to the community, and all donations benefit the school’s Visiting Artist Program.

Founded in 1996, Hayground School offers children ages 3-14 a hands-on education based on mentorship, student-led inquiry and authentic endeavors in the arts, sciences and humanities. For more information, please contact Marcelle Langendal at 631-537-7068 or

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December 13th, 2023 Posted by | here & there | no comments

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