Archer Shakespeareans News

Bronx, NY

On June 13, 2019, The Archer Shakespeareans performed The Tempest with 11 songs played by first and second year musicians.  Check out some of the clips to see how their hard work and practice paid off!

Archer Shakespeareans play Shallow, June 13, 2019

Archer Shakespeareans play Help!, June 13, 2019

Archer Shakespeareans play Nina Simone, June 13, 2019

Archer Shakespeareans play Led Zeppelin, June 13, 2019

Archer Shakespeareans play Ain't No Mountain, June 13, 2019

Archer Shakespeareans play Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, June 13, 2019

On May 18, 2019, the children went to see The Tempest at New York Public Theater.  They had an amazing experience meeting the actors who were playing the same parts as them.  They were the most engaged audience members there!

June 15, 2018, The Archer Shakespeareans performed at Green Room 42 in Manhattan where the band Wet opened for them.  It was an unforgettable experience for everyone!

September 2017, The Archer Shakespeareans had a memorable day participating in The Lion King national tour rehearsal.

Archer Shakespeareans and The Public Theater

July 11, 2017

Every year we take our students to a professional production of the Shakespeare play that they have come to know so well after months of analysis and rehearsal.  This is often the first professional play they have ever seen.  Last year our students saw The New York Public

 

Theater's production of Romeo and Juliet, conversed with the actors for a good hour, and impressed them so much that several people from the Public Theater came up to the Bronx to see our students perform their production of the play. 

The Archer Shakespeareans Romeo and Juliet cast with The Public Theater Romeo and Juliet cast, 2016.

This year our students performed A Midsummer Night's Dream, so we took 18 students and 17 parents to see Midsummer at Shakespeare in the Park because The Public Theater was kind enough to reserve 36 tickets for us without our having to stand in line all day for free tickets.  

 

The experience our students and their parents had that night was inspiring and unforgettable.  Before the show, the program director Jonathan Putterman wrote a letter to Phylicia Rashad, the actor who was playing Titania.  In the letter he described our program and mentioned one of our 6th grade students named Malikah, a child of Ghanaian immigrants who had to ride the city bus for an hour with her younger sister through The Bronx after every rehearsal.  Malikah played the role of Titania in our production.   She and another student convinced a Public Theater employee to deliver the letter to Ms. Rashad.  When the employee returned, he whispered to our director that Phylicia would be more than happy to meet our students after the play. We didn't let the children or parents know until after the play was over.

 

During the performance the children sat next to their parents and whispered explanations of the events of the play and who the characters were.

It was so moving to see how the children responded to the play they knew so well and the unique choices the actors made.  The first time each student saw and heard the actor who was playing the character that they had played, a joyful smile spread across their face as they listened to them speaking the same lines that they knew, yet actively embodying the character in a whole new way. We're still impressed every year, though not surprised, by how much our young students in the Bronx enjoy and connect to Shakespeare, and this experience only increased their appreciation.

After the play ended, we all went to the meeting area and waited a few short seconds.  Then, in her regal Fairy Queen splendor, Phylicia Rashad appeared and graciously thanked the children for coming to see the play.  Our director told her that Nana also played the Fairy Queen in our production of Midsummer this year and then Nana stepped forward from behind the other students.

Ms. Rashad took Malikah’s hands in hers and said, "I know about you. How you had to travel an hour on the bus after every rehearsal!"

Malikah replied matter-of-factly, "It's a struggle."

Then Ms. Rashad asked us to wait one moment so she could see if the rest of the actors would come out to meet the children, and one by one, as the actors appeared, we witnessed our students' excitement and elation continue to grow.

Upon seeing the actor who played Helena, our 10-year-old student Sanaa, who played the same role in our production, was so filled with emotion that she burst into tears.  She told us later that when she saw this professional actor who played Helena and was able to bring her to life, she felt such a strong connection with her because it felt like she had lived the play that night along with her, saying the lines in her head as the actor said them, feeling this bond between herself and another Helena grow as the play went on.  Sanaa said that when she saw her coming towards her, she didn’t know how to respond, and she was just so happy and excited, that it came out in tears. 

Later that night, the parents and children told us that they were grateful for this opportunity, and as we looked at their faces we saw them all joyfully focused together on one beautiful experience.  On Tuesday night, the theater truly did belong to the public.

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