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“This is a fantastic opportunity for the kids to learn Shakespeare and language at a much deeper level. It is really incredible. [Walking the dog's work] is absolutely awesome.”
Greg Wallendall, Theater Director, Beloit Memorial High School, WI

“Students leave the work with a sense for the richness of Shakespeare's
language, how we become beautiful by stepping into it, and how it unifies our intentions with our actions, who we are with what we do. Only Shakespeare offers this experience in such a profound way. He opens up the imaginative world for us and invites us in… Young people have a unique ability, because of where they are in their development, to access the life of a Shakespeare play. Experiencing the life in Shakespeare, they understand what it means to be human. He expresses an incredible love for the nature and potential of the human being. Who isn't seeking this experience of life?”
David Anderson, Executive Director, in an interview with Amy Stanley of the Beloit Daily News

Walking the dog Theater (WTD) specializes in creating productions of Shakespeare plays with students from 13 years of age. No other playwright offers as large a spectrum of opportunity to explore all things human, and to exercise thinking, feeling and action in as meaningful a way. Encountering Shakespeare as actors, the young people engage in an artistic and educational experience that is at once personal and creative, particular and universal. WTD encourages students to enter Shakespeare's powerful, rich language with playfulness and ease. The students meet characters who are inspiring, and bring the stories alive through their imagination. The experience of performing a Shakespeare play completes a process that involves the students' thinking powers, spurs their emotional maturity, and widens their range of physical and emotional expression and movement. The young people take with them the experience of having faced a challenge and having overcome it, a sense of achievement and success that will accompany them into the future.

The Stateline Shakespeare Festival

Walking the dog Theater (WTD) inaugurated its Shakespeare in Schools program in 2005 to inspire students with the substance of Shakespeare’s plays (and other plays) and to involve them in a process that awakens their creativity. Students have performed six plays at various schools around the country, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Beloit Memorial last year. This year WTD created a region-wide festival of Shakespeare plays within public high schools, involving more schools and more students in an opportunity for artistic exchange between neighboring communities.

The Stateline Shakespeare Festival

  • offers schools a non-competitive opportunity to share their artistic work
  • gives communities the chance to experience the life of “The Bard” through the voice of its youth
  • involves theater students from Beloit College as intern-assistants
  • enables students to access the life and the language of Shakespeare in a playful and deeply meaningful way
  • provides high school students with exposure to professional artists who will foster their skills and creativity
  • expands the capacities of young people for empathy and understanding of themselves and others

This year the project took close to 70 high school students from the Stateline area in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois into the world of Shakespeare, which they discovered within themselves through the process of developing an ensemble and creating a play together. The intense creative process awakens confidence, self-expression, and an understanding for group dynamics and the nature of art, all vital experiences for the growing young person. The three ensembles shared their work with each other, with their respective communities, and with parents and teachers.

Last year’s work helped to develop a support base within the Stateline area for such experiences. Community members have contributed at every level toward pioneering the initiative—costumes, set, publicity, etc.—creating an event that reflects the strengths, the interests, and the life of the community.

WTD is planning to expand the Festival next year and to make it a regular part of the Stateline area’s cultural life in the years to come.
Please contact WTD if you are interested in being part of or contributing to this community-building event.

The Stateline Shakespeare Festival is a project of Walking the dog Theater.