Dear Fellow Shakespeare Lover:
Our metamorphosis is complete! At the beginning of the summer I wrote to you about my struggle with cancer, and our decision to move out of our beloved theatre on Sansom Street.
I have good news. First, my encounter with the “Emperor of All Maladies” has left me with a win for now, and I am more appreciative and grateful for each day. Second, I am happy to report that thanks to the Herculean efforts of our staff, the new incarnation of The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre has emerged from its chrysalis. The schools who for years came to our matinees have rushed to sign up for our residency and tour programs. Last year we served nearly 6,000 students in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. This year our goal is to reach 6,500 students. We are already half way there and the school year has just begun!
I am so grateful for this work. As I look back on 20 years and 59 productions of Shakespeare, I am in awe of the generosity and belief that has brought us here. You did that, you believed in the work that we were doing on stage and in the schools! I can never thank you enough for putting your faith in this company. So now, as we move forward with this most vital work, I ask you to join us on the next stage of our adventure.
Do you remember the first time you experienced the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or felt sheer joy at the end of Twelfth Night, or shuddered at the path to hell that Macbeth chooses? That moment you suddenly understood Shakespeare’s words and realized he was speaking about the human experience? Your experience?
That is what we do through The Open Door Project, our suite of educational outreach programs. For the past twenty years we’ve been making those “aha” moments happen for students and we see them transform before our eyes just like you and I transformed many years ago.
We provide engagement. We specialize in those kids who sit in the back row, heads down, iPhones in hand, resolutely blocking out their teacher, the school, their fellow students. We get them on their feet in front of the class, script in hand.
“Lewis never said a word in class all year until your actors got him up doing King Lear. Now he talks every day. He comes to class on time. He does his homework. He’s transformed.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this story over the years. Our programs help students achieve their own metamorphosis.
Through our educational outreach programs we engage students from all backgrounds. Our students come from different neighborhoods, different homes and different challenges, but they are all exactly equal in this respect: they are teenagers. They have a deep seated need to find their own voice; to find stories that mirror and validate their own experience; to learn a vocabulary to comprehend their own hopes and fears; to find a way to engage positively with their community and the world at large.
Through The Open Door Project we strive to give them these tools, to help them answer these questions. But we cannot do it alone.
I ask that you join us now and help us continue to bring the profound works of William Shakespeare to every student in our region. If you would like to be a part of the new chapter in our Theatre’s story, please consider a donation today to help support our continued mission and vision forward.
With love and gratitude,