Since 2005, Cal Shakes’ New Works/New Communities (NW/NC) program has brought Shakespeare workshops to the classrooms of Alameda County Juvenile Hall and other juvenile justice facilities. This year, the residency program has grown by leaps and bounds, and, in August, the expanding effort got a name: Creative Risk.
In 2009, the program served 150 students; by the end of 2010, Creative Risk will have brought Shakespeare to approximately 450 additional youth. We have tripled the number of facilities that we serve and expanded our teaching artist pool from two to five. Earlier this year, we held our first residency at Thunder Road, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Oakland. This month we’ll hold our first workshops at the Oren Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron, CA, serving all 100 young men in custody; and we’ll also hold return for a second time to host workshops at Contra Costa Juvenile Hall.
We’ve deepened our level of engagement, too. In November the students of our most recent residency at the original Creative Risk site, Alameda County Juvenile Hall, performed scenes from Hamlet—in the original language as well as the students’ own modern-day translation—for youth in two other units. This presentation marked the first time any of the program’s students performed Shakespeare for an audience; and by all accounts, it was a rousing success.
We are very proud of the inroads we’ve made with Creative Risk, bringing the life-changing relevance of Shakespeare and the classics to our region’s most at-risk youth.
For more information on Creative Risk, visit our New Works/New Communities page in the coming months.
Creative Risk is made possible by generous funding from The James Irvine Foundation and Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest, and the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.