Hamlet takes to the road in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s WillPower Tour to high schools and middle schools

Oct 10th, 2016Press Release from Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Center Valley, PA — Shakespeare’s masterpiece and tragedy, Hamlet, travels to schools throughout the state in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 17th annual WillPower Tour through November 18.

For the ninth year, PSF was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has helped extend the WillPower tour to serve 40 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in recent years. PSF’s WillPower program is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

From Easton in the east to Warren in the west, the tour will be performed at 28 Pennsylvania schools (plus three schools in New Jersey). An additional seven schools will attend performances at DeSales University (DSU). The tour is completely sold out, though some seats are available at the DSU performance on Oct. 14th.

For the fourth year, the tour will visit Reading School District’s senior and intermediate high schools, as well as a third visit to the middle school.

“We know when students experience a live performance of a Shakespeare play like Hamlet, it can be transformative,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director.

“Students experiencing the WillPower Tour have written responses that range from enlightenment and inspiration to life-changing perspectives and even hope that had previously eluded them—which is consistent with our understanding that the arts are not optional. ”

Research confirms that viewing high-quality theatre productions leads to enhanced understanding and knowledge base, increased vocabulary, greater tolerance, and improved ability to read the emotions and take the perspective of others.

The centerpiece of PSF’s educational programming, the WillPower Tour has been performed at 170+ schools, and for 160,000+ students since its inception in 2000. The tour meets academic standards, and includes an 80-minute production with set and costumes, trained actor-teachers, workshops, a post-show discussion, and a classroom study guide.

Hamlet is directed by Gina Lamparella, whose Broadway acting credits include The Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Misérables among eight total productions on Broadway. Fight choreography is by the world-renowned Rick Sordelet, fight director for 70+ Broadway shows including all of Disney’s productions on Broadway.

The design team includes veterans of New York and Philadelphia theatres who have all won Barrymore awards for their work: Scenic design is by David Gordon; costumes by Janus Stefanowicz, and sound by Liz Filios.

This year’s tour is being performed at schools in 11 counties in Pennsylvania, including Berks, Bucks, Delaware, Lehigh, and Northampton, three counties in New Jersey, Mercer, Monroe, and Somerset.

WillPower is fully titled The Linny Fowler WillPower Tour in honor of an endowment gift by its namesake, Marlene “Linny” Fowler, who believed passionately in the power of theatre and education.

For more information, school representatives may contact Director of Education Jill Arington at 610.282.WILL (9455), ext. 9, gro.eraepsekahsapnull@notgnira.llij or www.pashakespeare.org/willpower.

The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is one of 40 professional theater companies selected to participate in bringing the finest productions of Shakespeare to middle- and high-school students in communities across the United States. This is the 14th year of this national program, the largest tour of Shakespeare in American history.

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