Comment from camp parent who was in a time of need this summer "I wanted
to thank you so much for giving us the partial scholarship. We would not have done the camp otherwise and it has been so
amazing for them both. Epic, is the word most often used to describe the week. I am very grateful. They want to do it
every year!" ~ Los Angeles Shakespeare Camp 2014
Ado teachers are brilliant at teaching, and coaxing, and adapting, to each individual. In the six years we've been taking
classes, I've seen them work with shy students, hyperactive students, resistant students, learning disabled students. In
every case, they've found a way to make the experience meaningful. The only kind of student I've never seen is a bored student!
The other thing I would mention for parents is that Much Ado classes are not
just about the performance. It's a fantastic immersion into Shakespeare. The characters are incredibly complex; the language
is thrilling--once you finally figure out what it means!--and the plots are delightful. I've seen my son come up with fantastic
insights into his characters, even those with very few lines. Acting out the plays or reading them from some stuffy book
with footnotes. . . hmm, which has a greater impact?
Our Shakespeare classes with Much Ado have always been
the highlight of our homeschooling year. My son is proud to consider himself a "Shakespearean actor."
Here's what my son says (now a 6-yr veteran): Don't quit. You'll regret it for your whole life. Shakespeare is a lot
of fun. You can meet a lot of great friends practicing Shakespeare. And if you're shy, they don't give you as many lines.
They could give you one or two lines, and to say those lines, you might not even have to go on stage, they could have another
kid act like he's saying them. I think everybody's shy when they start out. It's nerve-wracking. But then after the first
play, you're like, "Wow, that was actually a lot of fun." At least, that's my experience.
son Duncan Natwick ~ parent with our Foothills Shakespeare Program
My youngest child was tremendously shy when she began Much Ado's
classes. She had never been in a traditional classroom so had none of those experiences to draw on. Her discomfort stemmed
from not knowing anyone, being afraid of doing something wrong, etc. With the gentle guidance and support of Much Ado's
teachers her fears resolved. I watched her classes and found that students were being taught
compassion and respect for one another both directly and by their teachers' example. I believe my child has a better understanding
not only of her abilities, but that perseverance, seeing a project or assignment through to conclusion carries its own reward,
even when it seems at first to be "too hard." Much Ado's programs have been a part of our regular curriculum
for 13 years and has been a highlight of our homeschooling journey. As a parent, I am grateful to Rebekah, Stuart and their
carefully selected teachers for these and so many other learning opportunities over the years.
Joni Bowman, Ventura
The Much Ado About Shakespeare program seems to work a little bit of magic for the
kids who participate in it.
This is the sixth year my kids have been involved with the program, so I've had repeated
opportunities over the years to see the magic play out: a child, who is shy or very introverted or has stage fright, will
discover that she (or he) is completely safe in the Much Ado environment because the teachers
work very hard to make sure that the class is a place for exploration without judgement. And, led by the teachers, the rest
of the kids in the class will be supportive and uncritical, and everyone will have fun!
By the time of the
performance, the kid has blossomed, and she has reached a level of confidence that one might never have predicted she would
at the start of the program.
Being in the Much Ado class provides a unique space for growth; the kind of space
to which a child might not otherwise have acess. Additionally, by encouraging a shy kid to complete the program, a parent
is telling her child that she has faith in her and her ability to be courageous -- a lesson that is valuable far beyond
the time the child in the program. Mastering the material and performing the play requires hard work, and the conquering
of nerves, for everyone in the class, and everyone who does it comes out the other side that much stronger. The children
realize on some level that they have achieved a worthwhile goal not in spite of it's having been a struggle, but *because*
it was a struggle. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have that feeling about him or herself, and no-one more than a child
who might have started the program feeling insecure.
~ Parent from our Westchester Program
Comment from Los Angeles parent: Our two girls have such different
personalities and tastes, finding one camp or class they both enjoy has been an impossible task. The fact that they both
get so into the characters, scenes and lines--and enjoy the camp so much--is really a testament to your teaching staff and
counselors. They loved the tumbling, puppetry, making pennants, improv, and general camaraderie of this theatre camp, Much
Ado has inspired in both of them a deep appreciation and interest in all things Shakespeare - I feel like we could take
them to any play of his and they would be rapt. They've been bitten by the theater bug, for sure!
Our first exposure to Much Ado About Shakespeare was in 2008.
My daughter had just turned six. A friend of her's had invited her to come see him play Puck in A Midsummer Night Dream.
I was so impressed with the amazing things these kids were able to do onstage. Several parents I talked to would tell me
about how this program is so much more than just a performance. They learn so much just being there
I really wanted to put my daughter in this program.
The problem was that she was very shy. So that fall when classes were starting again I emailed Much Ado asking if she could
be a part of the class and help behind the scenes but not have to perform. The response was sign her up and let's see how
she does. The first month was great. They played games and had a fun time. After they received the scripts and their parts,
class became more focused. But she still enjoyed it.
Until the first time she was asked to say a line out loud to the class she burst into tears. Fortunately a friend of ours
was in the class helping her son who wasn't able to read his lines. She turned to this mom for comfort. I was outside the
classroom keeping track of my younger two kids. After class that day Rebekah offered to have an understudy for my daughter.
What a great way to relieve the pressure she was feeling. When we spoke later about it my daughter agreed to continue the
class with the understudy.
When it came time for
the performance she was definitely nervous but wanted to go on. I think the fact that they had gone over the play so many
times. And that we had practiced her lines so often all she had to overcome was taking those steps onto the stage. Much
Ado does a great job making sure they are well prepared to go on stage. I was so proud of her for going out there and saying
her lines. Though I don't think I could hear any of them. I knew what she was saying because we had practiced them together.
But really it didn't matter if she was so quiet you couldn't hear her.
What mattered was that she was able to overcome her fear. She was really proud of herself. Being a part of that play built
up her self confidence tremendously. It felt so empowering for her than she asked to sign up for the next class. She is
now in her sixth season with Much Ado. She looks forward to being a part of this program every year.
Holly Boyer ~ parent with our Simi Shakespeare Program
My children have been doing this program since they were very young and love
it. Going on 14 years now for my son! It is so good in so many ways, and not just for learning
Shakespeare (which is fantastic in and of itself). They learn self confidence, thinking on their feet, speaking in front
of a group, group dynamics and interaction.
You don't have to be interested in being an actor to enjoy this.
Both my children love the program, but have no interest in pursuing acting. There are both types of students in the classes
- ones who really want to act and others who just love the class for the participation and fun experience. (There is a
performance at the end.)
Also, for the young ones. You don't have to know how to read. My kids weren't
reading when they first started these, but I was amazed at how easily they learned the lines from hearing them read by me!
parent from our Ventua Program