April 21, 2016

ShakesperienceLocal Schools Experience a Shakesperience Centenary Style

Hackettstown, N.J. – On April 29, 2016, almost a week after Shakespeare’s birthday and death date, four school groups (three high schools and one middle school) will participate in the Third Annual Shakesperience: New Jersey Festival in the David and Carol Lackland Center at Centenary University.  Close to 100 students from Warren Tech High School, FHL Academy, Greystone Academy, and The Wilberforce School will participate in this unique “Shakesperience.”  This opportunity is made possible by the professional Centenary Stage Company (CSC).

The day will begin with an opening address from Professor Stephen Davis, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Centenary University and an Arts Education Program Director with CSC. Students from each school will present a scene or adaptation of a Shakespeare piece that lasts 15 to 25 minutes.  Scenes that will be performed include Richard III (Greystone Academy), Much Ado About Nothing (FHL Academy), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Wilburforce School) and King Lear (Warren Tech).

Before their presentations, Centenary Stage Company teaching artists and Centenary University faculty members will lead the students in a variety of workshops in the morning, including dance, stage combat, makeup, TV production, film, radio, costumes and improvisation and other important aspects of theatre production.  Students will gain hands-on experience of performing and understanding the works of the “Bard” and will also gain valuable, collaborative life-skills, learning to work as a cooperative team focused on a common goal.  The day will conclude with a feedback session led-by Centenary’s Communication and Fine Arts Department and Centenary Stage Company staff.

“Teaching children about Shakespeare is a passion of mine,” says Professor Davis. “I was introduced to Shakespeare when I was in sixth grade, and it changed my life forever. It is also an honor to have Centenary University serve as a host site for Shakesperience: NJ for three years in a row.”

“Sometimes it is hard for schools to quantify the value of the arts for young people,” says CSC General Manager Catherine Rust, “but one undeniable, important statistic from a recent College Board study is that students who participate in the arts from an early age score as much as 91 points higher on their SATs than students with little or no arts participation.  From creative thinking to communication skills and 
self-esteem, the benefits are rich and lasting.  It is very exciting to see what these students have achieved in such a short time in this process here!”

Stephen Davis is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Centenary University and a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. He serves as the CSC Program Director for Shakesperience: NJ and resident fight choreographer.  Stephen has a B.F.A. in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University, as well as an M.F.A. in directing from University of South Carolina, where he received the Two Thumbs Up Teaching Award for making a difference in the lives of students with learning disabilities. While at Centenary, Professor Davis was honored with both the 2014-2015 Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award and the 2010-2011 United Methodist Exemplary Teaching Award. He worked with the Folger Shakespeare Library of DC for six years as a teaching artist, and is proud to have started the program here at Centenary University.  He teaches classes to all ages in Shakespeare, stage combat, theatrical makeup, acting, directing, playwriting, video production and movement for the theatre.

About Shakesperience:NJ 
Shakesperience: NJ was started by an education grant from the Dodge Foundation and the Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Ryder University.  Three years ago, the festival was expanded to include the Centenary Stage Company at Centenary University.  This year will mark the first year that the Centenary Stage Company will be sponsoring the event without the assistance of the Folger Shakespeare Library.  In the past, Folger Teaching Artists in Schools lead a comprehensive theater education experience in which primary and secondary school students and their teachers work with a professional teaching artist over 12 weeks to prepare a script and craft a production, and perform on stage in front of an audience of peers and family members at New Jersey’s statewide annual student Shakespeare festival, Shakesperience: NJ. 

Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture and the arts.  Folger Shakespeare Library is a leader in how Shakespeare is taught today.  It provides resources to more than 4 million teachers and students in grades K-12 each year and provides local outreach programs for families and the community.  It also publishes the Folger Shakespeare Library editions, the leading Shakespeare texts used in secondary schools in the United States.  Learn more at www.folger.edu.

The Centenary Stage Company continues the tradition of Shakesperience: NJ  by continuing the mission of allowing school groups to present scenes from the works of Shakespeare in a fun and interactive setting.  This year marks the third year that the Centenary Stage Company will host the event.

About Centenary University
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County).  The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.  The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad opportunities.

Skip to content