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Redlands Shakespeare Festival Offers School Assembly Programs

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Now in its second season, the Redlands Shakespeare Festival is offering age-appropriate school assembly programs for students at third grade to high school levels. The school programs feature Festival Artistic Director Steven Sabel and several company actors presenting scenes from plays in the upcoming season. The actors also discuss specific characters and plot as well as basic theatrical principles. Question-and-answer sessions with students follow presentations.

This year's play selections are “The Comedy of Errors," "Othello" and "Much Ado About Nothing." The plays will be presented May 11-28 at the Redlands Bowl under the sponsorship of the Redlands Cultural Arts Commission. School programs are available weekdays through April 14.

Assembly topics include: "Introduction to Shakespeare," running 45-55 minutes; "Shakespeare for Everyone," 45-55 minutes; and "Romeo, Juliet and Other Teenagers," at 50-55 minutes. Small workshops o­n "Shakespeare's Universal Truths," designed for 30 to 50 high school or adult students, run 45 minutes. After-school presentations that complement classroom instruction are available as well. Festival representatives will work with schools to tailor presentations that fit their budgets.

"Children at every grade level should be exposed to works of the Bard," Sabel said. "Not o­nly do we want to produce great works for the public to enjoy, but we want to bring that work into the schools so that children can learn to appreciate Shakespeare at an early age," he added.

During the festival's inaugural season last year, more than 3,000 students at local elementary, high school and adult education levels enjoyed festival presentations.

Teachers whose classes enjoyed presentations last year have been enthusiastic about the offerings.

"The performers were fun, energetic and very talented," said Redlands High School theater arts teacher and director Kevin Fisher. "They brought a great level of entertainment and learning to our students," he added.

Mariposa third grade teacher and professional actress Debbie Prutsman said, "The school assembly is the perfect combination of theater, fun and information…presented in a way that makes Shakespeare real to kids…."

"The presentation at Redlands East Valley High School opened my students' eyes to the living language of the Bard," said drama teacher and director Kathleen Johnson.

Assemblies are booked o­n a first-come, first-served basis. For information or to book an assembly program or workshop, contact Ellen Schollenberger at (909) 794-3620 or eoscholl@aol.com.

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