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2019 Shakespeare in the City: The Tempest

On Monday, May 13, almost 200 students from 17 different Providence-area schools gathered at Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS) for their moment in the spotlight.

For the past several months, they’d been preparing–embracing their roles, learning their lines, rehearsing scenes, gathering props, designing their costumes–and after a big dress rehearsal on Friday, they came together to perform The Tempest as part of Shakespeare in the City.

In 2009, Lincoln English Department faculty member Martha Douglas-Osmundson began Shakespeare in the City as a way to deepen students’ appreciation for Shakespeare and introduce them to students from around the city whom they might not otherwise meet. The program grew each year, as they cycled through abridged versions of Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Othello. For this year, Shakespeare in the City’s eleventh, Martha decided to break with tradition and try something new with The Tempest, and the results were incredible.

“I'm drawn to The Tempest for several reasons,” she shared. “It's full of music and magic, it's about redemption and forgiveness, and it's a tricky play. It's Shakespeare's last play, it doesn't fit into the history or comedy or tragedy category. I figured it would present unique challenges to the directors and students, and that's how it worked out. I am hearing from teachers and parents about how much they liked the show and the experience for their kids, so it looks as if we have another hit on our hands!”

In a Shakespeare in the City performance, groups from each school take a scene and make it their own, really digging in to the content under the direction of their teachers. Every year is unique, but a common thread weaves throughout–the trickiness of Shakespeare and the challenges of performance create opportunities for growth on a variety levels.

“Performance is not everyone's favorite thing,” Martha admits, “so for many it was a matter of pushing through and finding strength in the achievement of a difficult thing. Working together is often a challenge, and there is no way to avoid it when doing a scene together. Finding the emotion and humor in Shakespeare is like a massive word game, so it's fun, but it can be hard!”

The joy of the 200 students gathered on the stage at the end of Monday night’s performance says it all–Shakespeare in the City brought them together in an exciting way and encouraged them to work through challenges, all to the great achievement of a spectacular performance!

In the words of a Lincoln parent, “That was so much fun and, once again, a colossal undertaking tremendously executed. Thank you, thank you for any stretch of time where our kids set their phones down and immerse in some beautiful language, as well as a real collective experience.”

The following schools participated in the 2019 Shakespeare in the City performance of The Tempest:
  • Community Preparatory School
  • E-Cubed Academy
  • Gordon School
  • Hope High School
  • Lincoln School
  • Ocean State Montessori
  • Providence Career and Technical Academy
  • Providence Country Day School
  • Rhode Island School for the Deaf
  • Roger Williams Middle School
  • San Miguel School
  • School One
  • Sophia Academy
  • Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts
  • UCAP
  • Wheeler School
  • The Met School

A special thanks to the crew and other supporters of this year’s production!

  • Martha Douglas-Osmundson | Director
  • Kaydi McQuade | Stage Manager
  • Ayesha Khan, Brigitte Lynch Johnson | Sound and Lights
  • Avery Bernier, Anna McClean, Sophie Rockwell | Stage Hands
  • Glenn Osmundson | Photography
  • Catherine Hibbitt | Program and Poster Art
  • Xenia Walker | Professional Development for the Teachers
  • Emma Stenberg, Mia Rotondi | Moral Support

And don’t forget to save the date for next year’s Shakespeare in the City! Schools are already signing up to be in the lottery for Hamlet, which will be performed on Monday, May 12 at The VETS.