Beginning its eleventh year in 2017, the Ensemble is an extraordinary collaboration between The Shakespeare Society and the Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the South Bronx. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from PS 48, MS 424, the Hyde Leadership Charter School, Bronx Charter School for the Arts and St. Ignatius School in Hunts Point spend an entire school year exploring, researching, and performing one play. In 2017-18, the Ensemble is working on Shakespeare's popular pastoral comedy, As You Like It.
Through a combination of close reading, comprehension activities, and acting and rehearsal techniques, students are provided with an opportunity to experience complete immersion in the play. This structure creates a unique environment for students to develop their capacity for teamwork, creative input, and critical thinking, while testing their capacity for commitment and rigor which are all necessary skills required to produce a play. Ensemble members work with the original text, learning to read, comprehend, speak, memorize, and perform a Shakespeare play. This work is of particular importance in a community such as Hunts Point, where general academic performance is far below national standards. Students who participate in the program are better prepared for future academic and creative pursuits and lose any potential "fear" of Shakespeare or other classical texts. The Ensemble’s performances also allow our young actors to share their accomplishments with the community. The Ensemble has previously performed A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2016, Twelfth Night in 2015, The Hamlet Project in 2014, Romeo and Juliet in 2013 & 2017, A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2012, Twelfth Night in 2011, As You Like It in 2010, The Tempest in 2009, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2008.