TARRYTOWN, N.Y. The young actors on the outdoor stage in Patriots Park Thursday afternoon displayed few hints that they had only practiced and memorized the play for a few weeks.
The group of teenagers in grades six through 12 had in fact memorized two plays in such a short period as part of their participation in the YMCA theater program: William Shakespeares The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletchers sequel to that play, The Tamer Tamed . Thursdays afternoon performance was The Tamer .
This is the seventh year that the YMCA is hosting its Shakespeare festival. Performances continue Friday and Saturday with The Taming of the Shrew , The Tamer Tamed and The Tempest . The Tempest will be performed by kids in grades two through five. Another group of YMCA kids designed many of the costumes and sets that will be used.
YMCA theater program director Peter Royston said the YMCA wanted to bring theater to the community.
I had grown up with community theater, where we did shows in the summer every year and loved it, he said. I wanted to do the same for my kids and the kids in the community.
The YMCAs dedication to exposing children to Shakespeare took root about eight years ago, when they received a grant to run an open theater program at Washington Irving Elementary School, according to Vice President of Marketing and Community Development Barbara Turk.
Turk said the general reaction to news that theyd be doing Shakespeare was Kids that age cant do Shakespeare! In the end, the groups production of A Midsummer Nights Dream was very successful, Royston said.
Today approximately 40 to 50 kids are involved in the YMCAs theater program.
The idea we really want to push is that Shakespeare is not this rarified thing thats up on a pedestal, but something thats just normal, Royston said. And whats been great about it is weve had these kids kind of grown up with it from third grade on. Its just a normal thing for them to do Shakespeare.
Friday, July 29
10 a.m. The Tamer Tamed
4 p.m. The Tempest
7:30 p.m. Taming of the Shrew
Saturday, July 30
10 a.m. The Tempest
? 5:30 p.m. Taming of the Shrew
7:30 p.m. The Tamer Tamed
Admission : Free (donations accepted)
Rain location : Washington Irving School (103 S. Broadway, Tarrytown)
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