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Ira Glass, host of This American Life, mentions his visit to a Bay Area Shakespeare Camp!
(Camp scene occurs about 1 minute and 10 seconds into the podcast)

"My daughter (age 7) is still speaking of Shakespeare Camp and from time to time recites lines from Shakespeare and plays some of the acting exercises you taught her."

 

"The show came out beautiful. The teachers were so supportive and the children were aware of that support as it gave them great confidence in their performance."

 

"My children didn't know what to expect but on the first day they came home excited. By the end of the first week my son told me he's having the most fun he's ever had in his life!"


This was my son's third year at Shakespeare Camp and he had a blast! He keeps wanting to go back each year."

     

     

East Bay kids get hip to Shakespeare
Summer of their content


By Sean Maher, Oakland Tribune
07/10/2008

It was brother against brother Wednesday morning as Robbie Tiemstra, 13, appeared to choke his twin brother Matt and then punch him out in a Piedmont chapel.

The drama suited the occasion, as both boys were demonstrating stage combat they'd learned in a class full of children at Bay Area Shakespeare Camp.

The camps are put on by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and run two weeks apiece in the summer and across the Bay Area. Programs are aimed at children ages 7 to 13, though other camps are available for younger children and teens.

"My dad used to always quote Shakespeare, and I was like, 'What is he talking about?'" said camper Jacob Epstein, 12. "So then I found out and got attached, which is maybe a good thing and maybe a bad thing. But I'm attached and I still love it."

About 11 children enrolled
in the Piedmont camp that started Monday will spend their mornings in classes about Shakespeare's language and history, making costumes and designing sets, or performing acting exercises such as vocal work or stage-combat training.

In the afternoons, they will rehearse for a performance of Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night." Jacob was cast as Orsino, an effusive nobleman pining for the haughty countess who refuses his love.

Maribel Connor, 7, front, participates with 11 other children in the Bay Area Shakespeare Camp hosted by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, in Piedmont Community Church in Piedmont, Calif., on Tuesday, July 8, 2008. (Alison D. Yin/The Oakland Tribune) "He really is like the guy you could never get rid of," Jacob said. "He's awesome, I think. I can go all out on this character, make him almost insane."

Téana David, a teacher for the program, said the young actor came to the first day of camp in a hoodie sweatshirt, suggesting he'd be withdrawn or shy; but within hours, she said, his excitement for the material came out in force, a transformation she said is common to the summer camps.

"Shakespeare is really human, and I think the fact you can see a group with this much diversity — all different ages, racially, from different backgrounds — that so many of them get so excited shows how human he really is," David said.

The density of Shakespearean language may seem a daunting challenge to children so young, but teachers in the program said it's not a problem.

David said that with children as young as 6, she can explain iambic pentameter — the rhythmic pattern with which Shakespeare wrote huge chunks of his dialogue — and when children can relate the rhythm to their own heartbeat, the language becomes visceral and accessible.

Rebecca Ennals, director of the program, said the denseness of Shakespeare's plays is a big part of why modern theater still embraces them, and actually contributes to the enjoyment children can
cull from exploring them.

"It's like being a detective, digging through Shakespeare," she said. "When you have your 'Ah ha!' moment, it's a great one, because "... there are so many ideas in each play."

Ennals said she discovered the famed playwright when she was 5, and realized that it "wasn't as hard as everyone was making it out to be.

"I see kids have that experience all the time," she said. "It's not until junior year they start reading Shakespeare in school, and by then he's a friend, they're already completely comfortable. But kids who haven't been exposed, a lot of them have closed off to it, it's already too hard."

The next round of camps begins July 21, and costs $420 to enroll, said Kristin Clippard, education associate for the festival. She added that the program has "never turned anyone away. We have always given out scholarships to anyone who's asked for one."

For details about the program
and registration, visit www.sfshakes.org/camp.







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