Seven schools take part in Shakespeare collaboration

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Catlin Gabel students have been part of a collaboration in which Portland Playhouse is partnering with seven area high schools to produce a different Shakespeare play at each school. These plays will be performed first at each individual high school, and then all will come together at Portland’s Winningstad Theatre for a three-day Fall Festival of Shakespeare.

Come see the Catlin Gabel cast in As You Like It on October 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Center Theater. And save the date to see their stage debut at the Winningstad Theatre on Sunday, November 7, at 4 p.m. (the curtain time has been changed since earlier reports). Tickets for the Catlin Gabel performances are available at the door: $5 general admission, $3 for students.

The collaborating high schools are Catlin Gabel, Lincoln, Jefferson, Hudson's Bay, Fort Vancouver, Cleveland, and De La Salle. Catlin Gabel is the only participating school to include Middle School students in its production.

“This is a thrilling opportunity for our students. They are meeting student actors from all over the city while delving into Shakespeare’s words,” said drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson. “Our students are building cross-divisional relationships and collaborating across disciplines: in addition to acting, the students are designing and building sets and costumes, composing original music, managing props, and generating publicity. I’m personally excited because experienced student actors are working with actors with no prior experience with Catlin Gabel’s theater program. This project allows us to develop community in the most creative of ways!”

The students have enjoyed meeting and training with actors from other schools. They have also benefited from working with professional artists who provided outside perspectives and experience in the process of producing a play. In preparation for leading this collaboration, Deirdre and her co-director, Gavin Hoffman from Portland Playhouse, trained with Kevin Coleman, the Shakespeare and Company education director. The rehearsal process incorporated techniques and exercises employed by professional companies, which enriched our students’ understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works.

From the Portland Playhouse website: The Festival is a spectacular theatrical event, in part because student actors connect well to Shakespeare; they get the passion, large stakes, disaster. . . . high school is not unlike an Elizabethan tragedy. But the biggest surprise is the creation of an electric and fully engaged audience during the Festival. This Festival audience (imagine 330 Shakespeare-saturated teenagers packing the Winningstad) is the most active and alive theatre audience you will ever encounter. They “oooh” and “ahhh;” call out "Oh no she didn't;" scream and laugh. It's the closest thing we have to how an Elizabethan audience at Shakespeare’s Globe might have reacted. It’s an unforgettable experience for the students involved, and an engaging cultural phenomenon for everyone to witness.

Tickets for the Winningstad performance are available at the Portland Center for Performing Arts box office or online through Ticketmaster. Ticket Prices: Regular: $10 Students: $8

** Ticket charges at the PCPA box office are $3.25 per ticket. Location: 1111 SW Broadway, Portland. Hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

** Ticketmaster charges are between $4 and $8 per ticket (depending on quantity of order)