By Allison Pari
This Friday, students will have the opportunity to experience Shakespeare in a way that is fresh and relatable through programs provided by the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival. Valencia High ninth graders who are studying Romeo and Juliet will watch a 40 minute, original adaptation of the play that focuses on the impetuous behavior of two young people who make choices without considering the consequences.
The three productions of Romeo and Juliet at Valencia High this week inaugurate SCSF’s Educational Outreach Program. Focusing on classical plays, literature and historical characters, the EOP is dedicated to keeping art programming and the classics alive in the schools.
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“Some people view this story [Romeo and Juliet] as romantic. However, the true lesson of the play is in the tragedy of the story,” said David Stears, SCSF’s Executive Director. “The timelessness is what connects the characters with young audiences. When Shakespeare’s plays are performed, then the language comes alive, and the story resonates with students.”
Adapted and directed by Kelly Petrie, director of last summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet’s cast includes several returning actors and several new faces.
SCSF is also planning “A Taste of Shakespeare” fundraising event this Sunday.
“The Taste of Shakespeare is really a tasting of Shakespeare in the same way that you would go to a wine tasting, learn a little bit about the wine, …the flavors that you want to look for, the profile, the structure of the wine. We’re doing the same thing with a number of Shakespeare pieces, because I think many people don’t have a grasp to come into Shakespeare… We’ll have a little wine, we’ll have a little Shakespeare, and hopefully a little education about both,” said Stears.
All funds will benefit the upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. Tickets are $100 for a couple. If you are interested in attending or are unable to attend but would still like to donate, please visit http://tasteofshakespeare.eventbrite.com/ .
In addition to the Romeo and Juliet production, SCSF’s apprentice program provides nine-week summer workshops for high school students interested in interning with the company. They are given the opportunity to help with Shakespeare in the Park in addition to performing their own play. In December, the SCSF also hopes to bring A Christmas Carol into elementary schools, as a way of introducing the classics to younger children. Future fund raising efforts will help support these programs.
For more information about the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival and its Educational Outreach Program, visit the company’s website at www.scshakespearefest.org  or follow the SCSF on the FaceBook at: www.facebook.com/SCShakespeareFest .