Shakespeare After School is a new initiative designed to reach students during out of school time. Teaching artists offer six-week to seventeen-week residencies to students enrolled in several of the city’s after-school programs, starting with second grade. Partners have included Union Settlement, Harlem RBI, the YMCA of Greater New York, Hunter College Elementary School and The Hunts Point Alliance for Children. Students reap the benefits of playing with Shakespeare's verse, speaking the language, performing sonnets and scenes from the plays and, we hope, eliminating the fear factor associated with the Bard before they have to tackle his works in school.
Combining academic rigor with the fun of acting out Shakespeare’s plays, this program is a unique way to introduce Shakespeare to young people outside school time and to integrate appreciation of his works into everyday life. Students explore themes that come up in current events and relate such themes to specific Shakespearean texts. Residencies often culminate in small performances or community events.