Monday, May 24, 2010

Shakespeare in Juvie

Thank you as always to CottMail for this fascinating article:

Tonight, 13 actors will take the stage at Shakespeare & Company in Henry V.' Nothing so unusual in that - except that these are teenagers, none older than 17, and they have been sentenced to perform this play. The show is the culmination of a five-week intensive program called Shakespeare in the Courts, a nationally recognized initiative now celebrating its 10th year. Berkshire Juvenile Court Judge Judith Locke has sent these adjudicated offenders -- found guilty of such adolescent crimes as fighting, drinking, stealing, and destroying property -- not to lockup or conventional community service, but to four afternoons a week of acting exercises, rehearsal, and Shakespearean study. More than 100 youths have participated since Kevin Coleman, the Shakespeare troupe's education director, and Paul Perachi, Locke's predecessor on the bench, started the program. But Coleman is realistic about what Shakespeare can and cannot do. "This does not fix them. Do they get back in trouble? Yes, they do. But maybe less often and maybe not as deep. This extreme experience that they're having starts to change them.'' This is one of three sessions this year; others serve youth in North Adams and Great Barrington. Combined, they have an annual budget of about $63,000. "It's a lot cheaper than lockup,'' Coleman said.

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