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Can Acting Make You Smarter?

Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea and Little Green Tea participants are half-way through their Shakespeare Bootcamp, in preparation for their production of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s The Sea Voyage . During this Bootcamp, the youth are learning about Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the history around The Sea Voyage. They are also exploring acting techniques, such as play analysis, character analysis, and improvisation, among many other topics. And while this may surprise many, we also talked about grammar! 

When the students started their Bootcamp this past Tuesday with a basic overview of the play, suffice it to say they were a little confused about what was going on. One the second day, they examined the first scene through the lens of play analysis. By slowing picking through all the details, their knowledge and understanding of the world of the play increased. On the third day, we did an overview of basic grammar rules. By paying close attention to the grammar used in the scene, the students learned more about what their characters were feeling, and how the lines were meant to be delivered. 

At the end of this grammar lesson, the kids performed the first scene. It was amazing to see the character choices coming through, as they could make informed decisions on how to perform their role based on what they had learned through scene analysis and grammar study. In our end of class debrief, the students acknowledged how much better they understood what they read now, than they had on the first day of Bootcamp. The tools they developed in just those few days are crucial reading comprehension skills, and ones that most of us, if we are being honest, could stand to work on! But this learning process is not exclusive to the youth involved in our Green Tea programs. We frequently start the rehearsal process for our adult productions in a similar method, taking time to work through the text, to ensure all those involved in the play understand what is happening and why. Because when the actors and production team understand the text, it makes the text that much more accessible to the audience. So if you want a chance to work on your grammar or reading comprehension, come and join us. We’d love to learn alongside you, and from you!

 

A Gift for Everyone

I’m a minimalist. Well, at least I’m trying to be. I still have a lot of stuff in my house, but I’m working on it. After all, if you talk to many minimalists, they will tell you it’s not so much how many things a person owns, as it is the question of whether or not the things owned add value to the individual’s life. One of the key values of a minimalist is that experiences are more important than physical things. In this, I feel that my views aline.

Physical things are needy. They may not be able to talk, but they demand our attention. Knick-knacks require dusting. Electronics require regular updates. Silver requires polishing. Clothes require laundering. The list goes on. The more we have, the more time it takes to tend to our items. Experiences, on the other hand, just require our attention once, in the moment. The only demand is to “be in the moment,” to participate in the joy the new experience brings. 

Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, our goal is to gather our audiences and patrons around experiences. We create performances of Shakespeare plays, podcasts, radio theatre performances of Restoration dramas, and concerts. We create workshops. We create inter-active improvisational interpretations of Shakespeare’s works. We create training grounds for student artists to learn about theatre and improve their reading skills. We recognize that these experiences add value to life. They build community. They educate. They make us laugh; they make us cry. They inspire us to be better people. 

This year, I’d like to encourage you to think minimally as you shop for gift ideas. What experiences can you give this year? We have some pretty cool opportunities, if I do say so myself. For starters, check out these awesome Holiday Pass to all our upcoming digital productions this holiday season! Or if you have any children in your life, consider enrolling them in our Green Tea or Little Green Tea Companies! 

 

Peace, Love, Shakespeare, and Happy Holidays!

Jessie

What’s Brewing?

“How was your day?”

This question opened tonight’s rehearsal for the next Sweet Tea Shakespeare Hours concert installment, as we waited on musicians and vocalists to trickle in from their day jobs. The verdict: It was a very Monday kind of day for many of us. So as we waited for our company to assemble, we spilled the tea of how our day had been thus far. And we spilled that tea, knowing that we all cared to hear each other’s answer, and that it mattered. (Empathy. Theatre teaches it. It’s pretty awesome.)

Once most of us assembled, we prepared to get down to business. But not before company member and the concert music director for this installment, Aaron Alderman, made us all stand up and shake off all the junk from earlier today. It reminded me of why we gather together to make music, to make theatre. We gather for community. We gather for escape from the mundane and the frustrating parts of life. I imagine this is why Shakespeare and his contemporaries gathered as well. I like to think this was the reason.

So yes, we are stirring up a new concert installment for you for later release, as well as some new podcast episodes and radio theatre performance. Not to mention that Green Tea is working on filming their production of The Magician’s Nephew. Exciting things are coming. And we are excited to share it with you. But we are also excited to gather around as a community, and shake off the junk life throws. We hope you will join us.

Green Tea Twelfth Night

What Theatre Can Do

I acted in my first play when I was 12 years old. It was the musical Oliver! at a small community theatre. I played an orphan boy in the ensemble. I had grown up to that point singing in the children’s choir at church and taking ballet lessons, but this was my first real experience acting. Little did I know then how much it would impact my life.

I would later go on to earn my undergraduate and graduate degrees in theatre, focusing in on education. If you have ever spent time teaching an art, you understand the importance of being able to communicate why your art is vital to the educational experience of every child. I have spent a lot of time dedicated to answering that question for myself. Why is theatre important? Why is it an important part of child development? I have listed some (this is by no means comprehensive) below:

  • Theatre teaches empathy
  • Theatre fosters creativity
  • Theatre promotes literature and other art forms
  • Theatre teaches history
  • Theatre builds self esteem
  • Theatre teaches that people have different gifts, and that it takes all these gifts to create theatre magic

The list could go on and on. And when you throw Shakespeare in the mix, you add in language skills as well. Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we have long known that Shakespeare and theatre are not just for the grown ups, inspiring our Green Tea program. We are thrilled to have recently extended that offering to younger students, now reaching those as young as in elementary school! It’s not just work though. Our instructors know how to bring the fun! This is a great opportunity for kids of all ages to break out of the ordinary, have fun, socialize, and learn something new! But if you are not a kid, or if your child is not quite ready to take the leap into Green Tea yet, that’s ok. There’s still ways to reap the benefits from theatre. Be an audience member and support our Green Tea actors by coming to our production of The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis as dramatized by Aurand Harris. It’s a magical experience you won’t want to miss!

Hope to see you there!

Jessie Wise

Discourse Fellow

SEASON SNEAK PEEK BY THE NUMBERS

We’re excited to share a season of dozens of performances and 15 separate productions of plays, hours, LIT tour offerings, and more.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare Plays provide an interactive play-going experience with live music prior to every show. Most shows feature an array of snacking and drinking options, some of which may constitute a light meal. This season’s offerings include SIX plays, including FOUR in Fayetteville and TWO in Raleigh. That’s right, we’re expanding to the Raleigh market.

Here’s a very exciting sneak peek: following 2018’s rousing run of Sweeney Todd, we’re headed back to Fayetteville Pie Company for a classic show that will knock your socks off.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare Hours are an expanded version of STS’s famous preshow with a kick: an intimate, variety show with live music, original writing, guest artists, thought-provoking reflections, and to meet the overwhelming demand of our audience for more of our hallmark preshow fun. STS hours are a community gathering of story, song, and craft, featuring local beer, quality wine, a signature cocktail, and light meal options. (PG13 due to some adult language and alcohol consumption.)

LIT Performances are for adults, as they blend stripped-down Shakespeare plays with improv, games, and a relaxed, pub-like environment. Underage guests and anyone showing visible signs of intoxication will not be served. We maintain a friendly environment, so no verbal or physical rudeness will not be tolerated. This season’s offerings include our classic HamLIT plus four new titles.

Other Events are also offered throughout the year, including Green Tea youth company performances and our annual Christmas gospel concert, BEHOLD.

If you think all this sounds amazing, go ahead and score your season tickets today!

Julius Caesar is Going Green!

Do the teens in your life want more acting experience, or just plain love Shakespeare? Check out Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea, a youth company for ages 12-17. This is a great opportunity for youth to learn more about Shakespeare, and built skills in acting, scene study, improvisation, and language over the course of a year. They will even have the opportunity to perform in Julius Caesar in March! Learn more here.