Manhattan Shakespeare Project – Manhattan’s All-Female Shakespeare Company
- To facilitate the growth of the female artist in a challenging, supportive, playful, and creative environment.
- To create a diverse company of women where many worlds, cultures, backgrounds and ideas are represented as we explore the breadth and depth of the human condition.
- To bring Shakespeare to underserved communities and develop our passion for theatre not only as an art form, but also as an educational tool.
- To foster emerging female playwrights and voices in conjunction with exploring the theatrical masterpieces of William Shakespeare.
Manhattan Shakespeare Project is a bright new venture into the wonderful world of Shakespeare. We are graduate students based in the Columbia University theatre community, but our company includes professional women from all backgrounds.
We produce projects that allow us to explore how we can re-envision Shakespeare’s works to communicate to new generations, and new communities. We aim to create vital and currently viable theatre focusing on gender constructs. What does it mean to use an all-female cast with scripts and characters that were originally written for all-male casts?
Our educational outreach program is centered on using Shakespeare and theatre as a tool to enhance learning, communication, and freedom of expression.
What we have done
In two seasons, Manhattan Shakespeare Project has produced:
- July 2010: Titus Andronicus & June/July 2011: Henry V - Our signature season production is our 90 min all female Free Shakespeare in the Parks outdoor summer show which performs in parks around the five boroughs of New York City. In 2010 we did six performances in one park and reached an estimated 200 audience members. In 2011 we more than doubled that, we did 13 performances in three different parks (Central Park, Harlem, Brooklyn) and reached over 500 audience members.
- October/November 2010 – our emerging female playwrights laboratory which facilitates the development of new female voices in the theatre world enabling the playwrights to hear and see their words off the page and develop their artistic voice. Our 2010 Emerging Female Voices Playwrights’ Fest was held in midtown Manhattan, was 21 readings over 7 nights, employed 20 female playwrights from across the United States and 21 female directors. This festival reached over 250 audience members.
- March 2011 - Free Educational Tour; Shakespeare’s Scholars (tours during Women’s History Month), is an hour long Shakespeare play that tours free to New York public schools with an all female cast and free pre-show workshops for all the students that supplements the English and Theatre Arts curriculum for New York schools and actively engages the students in the works of Shakespeare. In 2011 we visited 15 schools, did 35 workshops, and reached over 1500 students.
- "This is the most engaged I have seen our students."-Thomas Rosa, Manhattan School for Career Development, a District 75 Special Education School
- "The kids loved the show, asked questions about it, got interested in Shakespeare and learned that he's alive and well. The students were also impressed by the feminist angle on such a notoriously chauvinist work."-William Zev Shanken, Teacher High School for Health Careers and Sciences
- July/August 2011 - From the 2010 Emerging Female Voices Playwrights’ Fest we co-produced (with David Carpenter and Random Access Theatre) our New Works Production: Highway Blue by Caroline Prugh, which performed in an Off-Off Broadway venue, and sold out every night. This production reached over 250 audience members.
Our Organizational Goals
- Expanding our Educational Outreach Program to enable us to bring classes and Shakespeare to all types of learning institutions, where students can take classes that enhance their communication skills, and teach them how to be more confident human beings capable of expressing themselves in public arenas.
- Creating a methodology of learning that interweaves collaboration and ensemble-work in the devising of an original theatre piece with the mentorship of another group of students from a different cultural or geographic background that have already created an ensemble and their own original theatre piece.
- Employing a staff of teaching artists of all backgrounds in our Educational Outreach Program.
- Employing a full time artistic staff that includes:
- Artistic Director
- Associate Artistic Director
- Executive Director
- Managing Director
- Education Director
- Creating a Board of Directors that has the fundamental responsibility for self management: for creating a structure, policies, and procedures that support good governance which will allow for the creation of the theatre, art, and education that is encompassed in our mission and core values.
- Creating a not-for-profit company able to financially support itself and provide livable salaries for all employed.