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Shakespeare in Patriot's Park

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — The young actors on the outdoor stage in Patriot’s 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 Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher’s sequel to that play, The Tamer Tamed . Thursday’s 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 YMCA’s 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 they’d be doing Shakespeare was “Kids that age can’t do Shakespeare!” In the end, the group’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was “very successful,” Royston said.

Today approximately 40 to 50 kids are involved in the YMCA’s theater program.

“The idea we really want to push is that Shakespeare is not this rarified thing that’s up on a pedestal, but something that’s just normal,” Royston said. “And what’s been great about it is we’ve had these kids kind of grown up with it from third grade on. It’s just a normal thing for them to do Shakespeare.”

Performance Schedule

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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