Student Outreach Stronger Than Ever

One of the most important aspects of the current theatre movement in The Bahamas is the participation of a new generation of theatre enthusiasts. Many of today’s most talented Bahamian writers, directors, and actors got their start at the college level or earllier.

Consequently, Shakespeare in Paradise has made it their mission to ensure that students have access and are encouraged to attend the festival, and are consequently exposed to the “theatrical world”.

Coordinator of Student Outreach, Delores Adderley laughs as she describes how she spearheaded the idea of “calling schools and visiting them to convince their English Heads of Department to expose their students [to Shakespeare in Paradise]”. This came about initially as a means of securing reservations for performances, particularly weekday matinees, as Adderley is also responsible for the box office.

According to Adderley, “The students found the productions, for the past two years, to be most rewarding especially the Shakespearian ones, as most are found on their school syllabus.” The folklore production, as she puts it, and other shows also serve to broaden students’ understanding of themselves and their culture. The folklore production, in particular, helps “teach them how to laugh at themselves.” The educational aspect of the productions is also matched by the entertainment value of enjoying something other than movies and television. “As this is our third year, I can only foresee us receiving more rewarding reviews,” she adds optimistically.

She notes that her only major challenge has been “dissemination of our festival communication to the relevant people. And when they would have received it, government schools might complain about the cost factor.” As a result, Adderley believes that securing sponsors for these schools to attend the festival can create opportunities for more students to enjoy theatre.

She hopes “to get teachers involved early, as they are our vehicles to promote our festival [in the schools]”. She also speculates that different things can be done, like plaque presentations, regular talks or workshops, in order to make Shakespeare in Paradise a consistent part of students’ school lives.

This year’s festival is more student friendly than ever, as four of the five productions are being offered to students to enjoy. The festival’s signature Shakespearean production, Julius Caesar, targets the more mature senior high school students, while the junior high students are offered a different kind of Shakespeare with Bard to Go from Grand Valley State University. Junior high and primary school students are jointly being encouraged to see the festival’s signature Bahamian production, Dis We Tings 2011. In addition, Mariah Brown, out of Florida, also has a matinee performance for the benefit of students who might be interested.

Hopefully, with more shows for students to enjoy and attend, a greater interest to participate in theatre will develop, and more young people can join a movement that can enrich their lives and their nation. Student matinees start Wednesday September 28.

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