The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s highly praised school anti-violence tour continues in spring 2013 with a new program based on “The Tempest” that focuses on themes of vengeance and forgiveness.
Created in conjunction with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder, CSF’s “Twelfth Night” anti-bullying tour has now been seen by more than 22,000 Colorado schoolchildren. That inaugural program examined the problem of bullying through the character Malvolio.
The new program explores the character of Prospero, who conjures a mighty tempest to shipwreck his enemies of old on his remote island domain. But even as he plots his revenge on those who wronged him years before, he ponders his actions and at the last moment turns to forgiveness instead.
“The rarer action is in virtue rather than vengeance,” Prospero says, renouncing all his schemes for payback.
“This is really about how to relate to other people and deal with conflict in your life. This performance and the workshops that follow focus on the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness as a tool for ending the cycle of violence,” says CSF Literary Manager Amanda Giguere, who co-created the program with Timothy Orr, interim producing artistic director.
During the program, four professional actors perform an abbreviated version of the play. The actors then lead the students in small-group exercises exploring alternatives to violence that are based on the latest research from CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
The play emphasizes that there is always a choice between continuing the “cycles of revenge” and choosing not to retaliate, says Beverly Kingston, director of the center. She notes that 33 percent of American high school students had been in at least one physical fight in the preceding 12 months, according to the 2011 national youth risk behavior survey.
“You can see that in every one of those fights, someone had to make a decision to retaliate for some reason,” Kingston says. “Violence really begins with a decision and we all have a choice how we respond to difficult circumstances in our lives. That’s the message of this play.”
The new play makes use of Japanese bunraku-style puppets to represent some of the characters, including Prospero and his spirit servant Ariel.
In actor and stage manager Caroline Barry’s hands and animated by her voice, Ariel’s sea-blue face and colorful trailing veils seem almost to swim across the stage. With a few simple gestures — a thoughtful nod and touching foreheads with his spirit companion — the puppet Prospero becomes a fully-fledged character.
“We really want you to start imagining the actors’ expressions on the puppets,” says actor Crystal Eisele.
The new program debuts Feb. 12 at the Cole Arts and Sciences Academy in Denver. There are more than 40 schools on the spring schedule — and for the first time, a senior center — and Giguere expects to add more.
CSF’s innovative anti-violence school programs have received tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding and been featured prominently in print, online and television media across Colorado.
The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence is part of CU's Institute of Behavioral Science.
CSF’s anti-violence production of “The Tempest” is available for booking. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 303-492-1973 or visit http://www.coloradoshakes.org/education-outreach/shakespeare-in-the-schools.
CSF in the Schools: “The Tempest,” spring 2013 scheduled performances
February 12 (AM) Cole Arts & Sciences Academy - Denver
February 12 (PM) Denver Montclair International - Denver
February 13 (AM) Whittier Elementary School - Boulder
February 13 (PM) Angevine Middle School - Lafayette
February 14 (AM) Eagle Ridge Academy - Brighton
February 15 (PM) Flagstaff Charter School - Longmont
February 19 (AM) Westminster High School - Westminster
February 20 (AM) High Point Academy - Aurora
February 20 (PM) Clyde Miller P-8 - Aurora
February 21 (AM) Sunset Middle School - Longmont
February 22 (AM) Archuleta Elementary School - Denver
February 22 (PM) McGlone Elementary - Denver
February 26 (PM) Platte River Charter Academy - Highlands Ranch
February 27 (AM) The Academy of Charter Schools - Westminster
February 28 (AM) Douglass Elementary School - Boulder
February 28 (PM) Friends' School - Boulder
March 1 (PM) Asbury Elementary School - Denver
March 5 (AM) Boulder Explore - Boulder
March 5 (PM) Gold Hill Elementary School - Gold Hill
March 6 (PM) Spangler Elementary - Longmont
March 8 (PM) Sacred Heart of Jesus - Boulder
March 13 (AM/PM) Timberview Middle School - Colorado Springs
March 15 (AM) Coal Ridge Middle School - Firestone
March 20 (AM) Thornton High School - Thornton
March 20 (PM) North High School - Denver
April 2 (AM) Escuela Tlatelolco Charter School - Denver
April 2 (PM) Force Elementary School - Denver
April 3 (AM) SOAR Green Valley Ranch - Denver
April 4 (AM) Woodlin School - Woodrow
April 4 (PM) Arickaree School - Anton
April 5 (AM) Dunstan Middle School - Lakewood
April 5 (PM) Bryant Webster Elementary - Denver
April 9 (AM) Northeast Elementary School - Parker
April 9 (PM) Henry World School - Denver
April 10 (AM) Lafayette Elementary School - Lafayette
April 10 (PM) Longmont Estates Elementary - Longmont
April 11 (AM) Niwot Elementary School - Niwot
April 11 (PM) Eagle Crest Elementary School - Longmont
April 12 (AM) OLLI West (Senior Center) - Denver
April 12 (PM) Horizon Community Middle - Aurora