The Hunts Point Children's Shakespeare Ensemble is a year-long comprehension, rehearsal, and performance program offered by the Shakespeare Society in collaboration with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children.
Now entering its sixth year, the Ensemble is an extraordinary collaboration between The Shakespeare Society and the Hunts Point Alliance for Children in the South Bronx. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from PS 48, MS 424, the Hyde Leadership Charter School, and St. Ignatius School in Hunts Point spend an entire school year exploring, researching, and performing one play. For the 2012-2013 school year the selected play is Romeo and Juliet. Through a combination of close reading, comprehension activities, and acting and rehearsal techniques, students are provided with an opportunity to experience complete immersion in the play. This structure creates a unique environment for students to develop their capacity for teamwork, creative input, and critical thinking, while testing their capacity for commitment and rigor which are all necessary skills required to produce a play. Ensemble members work with the original text, learning to read, comprehend, speak, memorize, and perform a Shakespeare play. This work is of particular importance in a community such as Hunts Point, where general academic performance is far below national standards. Students who participate in the program are better prepared for future academic and creative pursuits and lose any potential "fear" of Shakespeare or other classical texts. The Ensemble’s performances also allow our young actors to share their accomplishments with the community.