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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Offered in partnership with the prestigious, internationally acclaimed Folger Shakespeare Library and Rider University

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MADISON, NJ —The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will host teachers and students in grades 5 through 12 from 16 schools across the state for Shakesperience:NJ – two full days highlighting and celebrating the study of Shakespeare through performance -- on May 18 and 19 at The Theatre’s Main Stage – the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. The initiative offers an opportunity for middle and high school students to spend an entire day sharing the excitement of Shakespeare as actors and audience members. Each group of students will take the Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre to present a 20-minute Shakespeare scene to an audience of their peers, teachers, parents and professional actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey who will serve as commentators. Sixteen schools will participate in this year’s three-day festival.

Scheduled to participate in Shakesperience:NJ 2009 are Bloomfield High School, Columbia High School in Maplewood, Dunellen High School, Faith Hope Love Academy in Somerset, Hamilton Preparatory Academy in Elizabeth, Hillsborough Middle School, Madison High School, Montville High School, Newark Technical High School, Orange Middle School, Oratory Prep School in Summit, Purnell School in Pottersville, Saddle River Day School, Trinity Christian School in Montville, Weekhawken High School and West Morris Central High School.

Shakesperience:NJ is the product of a partnership between The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Rider University and the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The Folger Festivals Project was launched in 1986 as a national outreach initiative to extend the reach of the Library’s teaching philosophy and to inspire student Shakespeare festivals across the nation. In 2007, the Shakespeare Theatre and Rider University were chosen by the Folger Shakespeare Library to establish the annual statewide festival in New Jersey.

Shakesperience:NJ represents a step toward the creation of a national model for statewide student Shakespeare festivals based on the highly successful student Shakespeare festival at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The institutions partnering to launch Shakesperience:NJ share a common mission of promoting the teaching of Shakespeare through performance, which has long been recognized to be the
most effective and exciting way to introduce young people to Shakespeare’s plays. Performance-based
instruction heightens student interest and increases creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Through
numerous classes and workshops with teachers and students, this philosophy has been introduced in schools throughout the state. The creation of a statewide student festival is intended to showcase the results of this performance-based learning, and to encourage more schools and teachers to make performance a key component of the language arts classroom.

The program enables young people to come together with their peers from diverse backgrounds to celebrate their shared achievements in the study of English literature. Student festivals provide important structure and closure to performance-based study, instilling in students pride and a sense of ownership over their own learning. The Shakesperience:NJ Festival is designed to be an educational experience, not a drama competition. Students will have the option of receiving feedback from professional commentators, but the focus of each day is on Shakespeare’s works and the creativity and variety of student interpretations.

In addition to the student performances, each day will include entertaining educational interludes such as Shakespeare trivia games and swordplay demonstrations. For more information about Shakesperience:NJ, call 973-845-6742 or e-mail

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The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually, it is New Jersey’s only professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world classics. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Additional major support is received from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the F. M. Kirby Foundation, The Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Shubert Foundation and Drew University, as well as contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, government agencies and individuals. American Airlines is the official airline of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Crystal Rock Water is the company’s official water provider. Barefoot Wine is the official wine provider.

General Information


F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre The Greek Theatre
36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Rd.) 2 Convent Road (at Convent Station)
Madison, NJ Morris Township, NJ
(on the campus of Drew University) (on the campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth)

TICKETS & INFO: Call 973-408-5600 or visit

Shakesperience:NJ 2009 – Snapshot
Venue: F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue at Lancaster Rd. in Madison
(on the campus of Drew University)
Dates: Monday, Tuesday May 18 and 19


Faith Hope Love Academy (Somerset)
Hamilton Preparatory Academy (Elizabeth)
Hillsborough Middle School
Madison High School
Newark Technical High School
Orange Middle School
Purnell School (Pottersville)
Saddle River Day School

Bergenfield High School
Bloomfield High School
Columbia High School (Maplewood)
Dunellen High School
Montville High School
Oratory Prep School (Summit)
Trinity Christian School (Montville)
Weehawken High School
West Morris Central High School