The Zephyr Theatre wrapped up its five-day Shakes Faire Aug. 15. The outdoor festival featured a professional production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and an hour-long set of comic scenes dubbed “Shakespeare LOL.”
And there’s more Shakespeare to come.
Teens who are tempted to wrap their tongues around the bard’s witty, rapid and often poetic language have the opportunity to do so, thanks to The Zephyr Young Actors Theatre.
The newly rebranded youth program will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starring Young Actors Theatre enrollees, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 on the inside stage at The Zephyr.
Registration deadline for this educational program for ages 13-18 is Sept. 3. Auditions are Sept. 7, and rehearsals start Sept. 9. To register, visit stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org/education.
This is the first time The Zephyr’s youth program has tackled Shakespeare, Director of the Young Actors Theatre Cassidy Hall said.
The playful “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is full of fairies, misfits, and Nick Bottom, that hapless laborer who is turned into an ass.
“It’s one of Shakespeare’s most accessible shows,” Hall said. “And it’s hilarious.”
The young actors will have a lot to learn. Hall has picked a script that has not been modernized. She’s using the original Old English version.
“It’s the real thing,” she said.
The first two days of rehearsal will be an immersion in the text, giving the actors historical context and vocabulary definitions, she said.
For instance, the character Theseus must understand and convey such lines as this:
“The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”
These young performers will gain more than just an appreciation for wordplay, Hall said.
The Young Actors Theatre program focuses on stage skills, including acting, singing, line delivery, choreography and stage presence. Students will also learn stagecraft, such as stage design, lighting design, sound design, costuming and prop procurement.
The young actors also will develop important life skills — poise, organization, memorization, collaboration and responsibility.
“And, of course, they’ll gain self-confidence on stage and off,” Hall said.
Next main-stage Young Actors Theatre production: The musical “Aladdin KIDS,” will be performed by students ages 8-12 in October.
On The Zephyr’s outdoor stage this weekend, several Young Actors Theatre students will show off their individual talents during a variety show.
Students ages 8 to 18 will perform solo songs, duets, and dance solos. One girl will play her ukulele, and a foursome will present a song from “The Lion King,” which they choreographed themselves. The show’s finale will be “Everyday,” a group song and dance number from “High School Musical 2.”
This is the first time the Young Actors Theatre has hosted a variety show.
“It’s a really good way for students to showcase their various talents outside a standard production,” Hall said.
The show gives students an additional performing opportunity, and “the chance to have creative control over their own piece,” she said.
Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 21 and 2 p.m. Aug. 22 on the outdoor stage at The Zephyr Theatre. Admission is free; though donations will be accepted.
Meanwhile, other Young Actors Theatre students ages 13-18 have been meeting weekly to hone their improvisation skills.
Using creative play, the students discover the secrets of comedic timing and clever storytelling — key theatre skills. Each month, these students present a showcase for family and friends.
This is an ongoing program with monthly fees.
For more information about all Young Actors Theatre programs — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Aladdin KIDS,” the variety show, and the Improv Troupe — visit stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org/education.