You are the ones who lead this semi-peaceful army of kids who found their own voices when under your direction. You have taught us a lot about life. You taught us how to speak up, how to be seen, how to cheat out so everyone can see your face. You taught us how to improvise, how to work under pressure. You taught us how to react, how to command attention. And it’s not just the physical ideas that we use on-and-offstage. With the work of Shakespeare on your side, you taught us about injustice, conscience, the human mind, family, hate, and love. Given these tools and this knowledge, I now know how to fight back against oppressors. I think I’m ready for what the world may throw at me.
Shakespeare Youth Festival gave me a safe, brave space in which I could embrace my emotions through my character and her interactions with the other characters. Using the safety blanket of beautiful poetry that has been spoken for centuries, I learned that I can explore my own emotions and learn how to process other people’s emotions and decisions healthily and maturely through theatre.
Doing Shakespeare is like my therapy for the week. If I want to be mad. I get to be mad. There are days I’m about to snap and then I come here all my emotions get released and Miss Blaire and Miss Julia keep that door open to let me feel ALL my feelings.
I keep coming back because of the community. I can be as weird and as nerdy as I want and no one will judge me.
Shakespeare didn’t start out as my comfort zone. Now it is – and with Shakespeare as your comfort zone – anything is possible. You are basically ready for life.
I came to SYF an awkward child – I still am, but I’m an awkward child who knows she is accepted!!! I built a family and close friendships here. Shakespeare Youth Festival is my home base.
When I first I started here I was eight and shy. I never wanted to participate in things. Every year, I came back to see what part I could get. Today, I not only like to come here – I choose to come.
Shakespeare Youth Festival is not a place to “polish” yourself and look good for other people – it’s where you get to BE yourself and tell the truth on stage. The performances themselves are just about telling the truth of the story – this is not a talent show.
I’ve grown up learning Shakespeare as an actor. Then they taught it in school and I didn’t recognize it. Learning Shakespeare as an actor is the only way! And it has created a second family for me.
This has prepared me for everything. I don’t have to worry about being scared of people and I especially don’t care about people’s judgement any more.