12213405276?profile=RESIZE_710xInstructor Christian Cooper from the Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida watches students in the troupe’s ‘Shakespeare Lives!’ workshop. From left are Kimberly Wilkinson, Kaelyn Gonzalez and Brayden Wartmann. Photo provided

By Faran Fagen

More movement and laughter.

That was the advice Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida actress Christine Chavers had for student Kimberly Wilkinson during her monologue of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“I’ve always found acting a fun way to express myself, and I’m a pretty quiet person so it’s a great outlet for me,” said Wilkinson, of Boca Raton. “I’d like to pursue acting wherever I can, hopefully with the Shakespeare Troupe moving forward and opportunities at Florida Atlantic University.”

Wilkinson, a 19-year-old student at FAU, took part in “Shakespeare Lives!”, an intensive 10-day workshop created by the Shakespeare Troupe to offer students ages 13-22 the opportunity to study facets of classical acting.

Classes were held in late July and early August at the Sol Theatre in Boca Raton. The program is spearheaded by Shakespeare Troupe founder Peter Galman.  

12213405893?profile=RESIZE_180x180“I was able to help them overcome their fears and self-judgment and watch them grow with self-confidence through exercises and practicing the tools we gave them,” Galman said. “The end result was bigger voices and a stronger commitment to the actions of characters.”

Professional actors conducted master classes, teaching the principles of vocal projection, diction, text analysis, verse management, character portrayal and self-staging techniques.

The workshops — for up to 20 students — culminated with a staged reading of scenes from Shakespeare showcasing the trainees’ development and open to the public. Each student took away a classic monologue to use in auditions.

“We learned a lot about performing Shakespeare for a modern audience,” said Wilkinson, who has performed at the Sol Theatre since she was a child.

Instructor Sara Grant translated Shakespeare into modern terms and helped in Wilkinson’s scene from Twelfth Night to make sense of Olivia’s character.

“We also worked on applying subtext in scenes to really get the character’s message across,” Wilkinson said. “Christian Cooper helped us perfect our comedic timing and gave me some fun character choices to work with.”

Shakespeare Troupe teaching artists, who specialize in voice, movement and music, joined Galman in conducting the five-hour sessions.

The final presentations were assembled in the form of a showcase, which Galman said was “well attended and well executed.”

“The students were absolutely able to take the tools that were given them and skillfully use them,” said Galman,” who appeared on As the World Turns for five years while moonlighting on Broadway and off-Broadway in New York.

The idea for the program began last year. Galman wrote a grant and applied to the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. Upon receiving it, he contacted Grant, of the Sol Theatre, and she opened the stage to the Shakespeare Troupe.

“It turns out that with its small intimate space, the Sol is ideal for the presentation of workshop material,” Galman said. “What I see in their eyes is often sheer joy at their own discovery, and sometimes the realization of the gravity of the themes they are encountering.”

The troupe will have after-school workshops for teens later this school year, Galman said. “As we start booking Shakespeare in Schools in winter/spring of 2024, we will be offering paid internships for students to be further involved,” he said.

Tuition for the 10-day Shakespeare Lives! workshop is $250. Students are accepted through audition or video submission.

Founded by Galman in 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the troupe participated in the weeklong intensive World of Shakespeare program in March 2017 at the Cushman School in Miami. In 2018-2019 the troupe toured and reached 10,000 audience members.

For more information, contact Shakespeare Troupe of South Florida at 754-228-7228 or anon@shakestroupe.org or visit www.shakestroupe.org. Sol Theatre is at 3333 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton.

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