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Help Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival Keep Romeo And Juliet Alive In Schools

Recent budget cuts in education, growing class sizes and diminishing resources for teachers means that arts education is increasingly pushed aside. Some high school students have never seen a live theatrical performance.

In an attempt to remedy this and teach local ninth graders valuable lessons, the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival is bringing their production of “Romeo and Juliet” back to the high schools. Their limited tour met with great success in 2012.

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This year they are hoping donations will help them expand the program to more schools. SCSF’s “Romeo and Juliet” uses only five actors and fits into a class period with time for questions and answers afterward.

Unique to SCSF’s production, Romeo and Juliet are characterized not as star-crossed lovers, but as impetuous teenagers whose selfish actions result in tragedy for them and their families. The story is presented in a cotemporary setting to highlight the fact that young people have faced the same decisions and emotions for hundred of years.

“This play has an important message for ninth graders to hear,” said Mary Ferguson, the Festival’s Educational Outreach coordinator. “Teenagers have been going through this since the beginning of time.”

They also hope that seeing Shakespeare’s work performed live will inspire students to learn more and read more.

One teacher from Valencia High wrote about the 2012 presentation: “This program was great… I will take my students to see it again… The program made a great impression on my students.”

To support the tour, SCSF has launched the Keep Romeo and Juliet ALIVE campaign.  Sponsorships are available at all levels, including Festival Title Sponsor at $4,000, individual school sponsorships at $650 and other amounts determined by the donor’s generosity.

“We work very hard raising money for this program,” said SCSF Executive Director David Stears. “Our goal for the future is to make this program available to all our local high schools free of charge”

On March 1 at 6 p.m., SCSF will host a “Sneak Preview” fundraiser at their temporary home on McBean Parkway in Valencia. The even will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and a special performance of “Romeo and Juliet,” with all proceeds going to support the tour and educational outreach efforts. Tickets are $35 per person. Click here to purchase.

For more information, visit the SCSF website, here. Or their Facebook pages, here and here