A Teen Night to Remember

A group at THE VERONA PROJECT Teen Night enjoys pizza and soda.

By Marketing Intern Anna Kritikos

It was The Verona Project Teen Night last night in the beautiful Upper Grove at the Bruns Amphitheater. And good times were indeed had by all.

On the agenda for the evening: a dinner—a feast, shall we say—of  pizza and soda, a fun and engaging pre-show activity to introduce the students to The Verona Project, and a raffle drawing— the prize being a Verona Project T-shirt (which are quite comfortable, by the by).  The pizza arrived piping hot, courtesy of Classic Catering, and soon thereafter the students arrived. There were upward of 35 guests that attended the event, so it made for a lively crowd. They dug into the cheese pizza like nobody’s business, and they carried on and conversed with one another until Trish Tillman, the director of Cal Shakes’ Artistic Learning programs, hopped up on a picnic table and gave everyone the basic plot of The Verona Project. It was no dull summary—Trish had the kids cracking up.

Trish Tillman leading the group through a synopsis of THE VERONA PROJECT

Trish then led the kids through an activity that had them connecting to the more emotional concepts in the play. She posited questions such as: Have you ever been in love? Have you ever liked someone who didn’t like you back? (To which one cheeky kid yelled out, “Oh yeah! All the time!”) If they wished to answer “yes,” they would walk to a different picnic table. It was a good activity and the kids were definitely into it, laughing and running from picnic table to picnic table. ‘Twas a good, old-fashioned ,rowdy time.

Showtime was nearly upon us when Trish announced the next activity—the raffle drawing. As the crowd collectively held its breath, Marilyn Langbehn (Cal Shakes Marketing and PR Manager) announced the winner, and this lucky young man (pictured at right) emerged victorious. So, look out for this guy and his spankin’ new Verona Project T-Shirt.

In all, Teen Night was a top-quality event that was followed by an excellent performance of The Verona Project.

There will be another Teen Night on September 29 during The Taming of the Shrew. Buy tickets here


Listen to Cal Shakes on KCBS.com

In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, Director of Artistic Learning Trish Tillman appeared on KCBS radio Thursday, April 23, at 9:20am, “talking like Shakespeare” and discussing the challenges of keeping Shakespeare relevant to young people. (She ended up pitching a little Shakesperean woo at SF Shakespeare in the Park’s Bill Olson!)

You can listen to the segment here.



Shakespeare’s Better than Recess: Tales from Artistic Learning

Here’s a tale recently told to our Director of Artistic Learning, Trish Tillman, by Mike Jones, a teacher whose students have been working with Cal Shakes Teaching Artist Norman Gee at Oakland High. Jones says that there are two young men in his English class known for their truancy and bad behavior, but who show up consistently for the Shakespeare sessions. “They are the ones this year who have memorized their lines before anyone else,” says Mr. Jones, “delivering them with the beginnings of emotional resonance in front of the others in class. Quite a nice occurrence.”

And from Victoria Erville, a Cal Shakes Teaching Artist (and Artistic Director of the African-American Shakespeare Company) currently working with kids at Foothill Elementary (Pittsburg), comes a story of a couple of smaller boys who actually prefer Shakespeare to recess. “They come into my class during recess and practice their lines with me. It has become a bit of a ‘thing’ to know more lines than anyone else.” Another favorite of Ms. Erville’s is “the young lady who is having trouble remembering her lines. When I told her she could do it and that she just needed a little confidence, she smiled and said I sounded like her mom.”

“Then there is David,” continues Ms. Erville, “who wants to play every role, and Manuel, who is my stage manager and says directing is ‘easy.'” She says that the entire elementary school has got the acting bug: She’s even got one of the teachers quoting Shakespeare now.

“They are already talking about spring, and fighting over which classes get drama. It’s a shame that they have no other arts programs here. The kids are drinking it up.”