What a wonderful ride this has been and continues to be. Way back in 2007 we staged our first production of As You Like It on the lawn by Leffler Chapel on Elizabethtown College’s campus. Since then we have packed our tent and moved a number of times. We are always grateful that our audiences continue to follow us and grow in numbers. This past summer, 2019, we produced A Comedy of Errors in a perfect location – Lancaster History, 230 N. President Ave. It’s a beautiful open level lawn, in the middle of an arboretum with plenty of parking and it is quiet! Not only quiet but downright idyllic.
We had hoped to bring Much Ado About Nothing to our Lancaster History stage this past June. Unfortunately with the reality of COVID-19 all productions came to a halt. As theatre people we are devastated that no live theatre performances can happen…anywhere. And what is theatre if not live?! We did what we could experimenting, making discoveries with the Zoom platform and producing two abridged Shakespeare plays this summer – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Taming of the Shrew. We are happy to report that audiences truly enjoyed these productions as did our actors and crew. (You can watch on our YouTube channel.). But it is definitely not the same and we anxiously await the day when we can once again tread the boards and welcome our audiences back.
Camp Will, our popular camp for 6th-12th graders now in its 13th year, also succumbed to COVID-19. However we were able to offer our teens a Zoom Camp Will and with our creative and talented teachers, our students enjoyed a shortened Camp Will experience. You can see their final presentation on our YouTube channel.
However in the beginning of 2020 we were able to tackle our newest venture: ShakesPeers!…..a high school Shakespeare festival. On February 10 we welcomed seven high schools and 36 students for this day-long festival hosted by Millersville University Visual and Performing Arts at The Ware Center in downtown Lancaster. It was such an exciting day of learning, competing, sharing, performing and creative problem-solving. We plan on continuing this wonderful event this coming winter – either in person or online. Our high school students deserve no less from us.
To all our donors: Thank you so much for your continuing support. We can’t do this work without you especially during these difficult times. For those of you who haven’t experienced The People’s Shakespeare Project yet we hope you take that leap and join us for our online events and for that glorious day when we can all be together again… in person!
Laura Korach Howell is an Equity actress, a roster artist with The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a seasoned theatre teacher and director. She received her training at Circle-in-the-Square Theatre (NYC), The Actor’s Center (NYC) and Shakespeare & Co. (Lenox, MA). She has directed professionally and taught students of all ages for over thirty years.