Every year since the late nineties, the Massachusetts-based Shakespeare & Company has traveled to the Hayground School in Bridgehampton for a three-week stay to work with its students and bring Shakespeare’s work to the stage. This year, students put on two performances of his romantic comedy, The Tempest at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The residency began in late November and culminated in December.
The production brings professional actors and mentors together with students and faculty for an in depth study of Shakespeare’s work. Faculty work with the directors to select a play and cast students. They study the text, the story, and the history of the Bard with theatre games and other fun activities so that the students can appreciate and understand the play and its languages. One activity involves drawing scenes and captioning them with lines from the play.
For time, the play is often adapted and abridged, but the language is largely preserved to reflect the original text. This year’s production was quite inclusive–boasting students as old as thirteen and as young as three, and involving parents, alumni, and community members to help stage the production with set and costumes.
“The performances at Hayground are always exciting and delightful, and this was no different. Each of the actors brought themselves completely to the stage and we are very proud of everyone. It’s been a fantastic time working with the whole school, and we can’t wait to be back again next year!” said mentors of Shakespeare & Company.
The residency is part of Hayground’s greater Visiting Artist Program, which invites artists, performers, and scientists to lead workshops with its students. All tickets sales from the performances went to the Visiting Artist Program to support future projects and workshops.
Shakespeare & Company was founded in 1978 and is one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals in the United States. It has an award-winning theatre-in-education program and works with more than 45,000 students every year, and has worked with nearly one million since the program’s inception.