The Play’s The Thing


Most children experience a Shakespearean play, such as Julius Caesar, as a reading assignment in high school. The language can put them off and alienate them from this magnificent piece of Western literature. In fact, Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be watched as none of his plays were printed in his lifetime. Without copyright, playwrights were afraid of having their work stolen. To discourage this, actors received only their own parts with their cue lines so that no actor had the whole play. Audiences would gather, the so-called groundlings at the front of the stage, leaning on it, eating, interacting with the actors. The active involvement of the audience with the play and actors was a hallmark in Shakespeare’s time.

This class is a 6 week introduction to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar culminating with a performance at The W Gallery. The play will be abridged to about 45 minutes; parts will be assigned collaboratively between the teacher and the students. Some parts will be simply crowd parts so that students who want to dip their toes into Shakespeare can do so with a minimum of memorizing lines. Other parts will be speaking parts and require memorization. Chuck taught a program similar to this one in Lawrence, MA with great success.

Students with speaking parts will have to commit to attending all classes and the performance. Students in crowd scenes only will be excused for good reasons once during the 6 weeks, but must attend the performance.

During the course one or perhaps more professional local actors will be attending to give students insight into acting as a profession and assist Chuck with rehearsals.

Teacher: Chuck Schwager 

Chuck Schwager has been acting in the media arts for decades, collaborating in theatre, television, film, and music videos. His credits are many and can be found on his website:

Teacher: Benjamin Evett

Benjamin Evett is an internationally recognized actor, director, producer, and theatre educator. He won Boston’s Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for Albatross in 2015. He was a member of the American Repertory Theatre Resident Acting Company in Cambridge from 1993 to 2003, appearing in over fifty productions. He was Founding Artistic Director of The Actors’ Shakespeare Project, playing Hamlet, Coriolanus, Petruchio, Edmund and Caliban. He has served as Artistic and Executive Director for the Poets’ Theatre and Queen Mab – a Micro-Theatre. He has appeared with the New Repertory Theatre, the Huntington Theatre, Gloucester Stage Company, the Poets’ Theatre, the Arizona Theatre Company, the San Jose Rep, the Virginia Stage Company, the Missouri Rep, the Alley Theatre, and the Cleveland Play House, among others. Internationally, he has performed in Moscow, Taipei, Paris, Venice, Edinburgh and Madrid.

Dates: Tuesdays from 6:00 - 7:30 pm, 6 sessions beginning on November 9th and ending on December 14th. There will be a 45 min performance held at The W Gallery on December 19th from 4 pm to 4:45 pm with no intermission. This performance will be open to the public, but friends and family will have access to advance tickets. There will be refreshments immediately following the show, and mingling with the cast and teachers.

Cost: $245 per student, plus a $10 materials fee for costumes

Participation: This class needs a minimum of 12 registrants and a maximum of 16 registrants to run. 

School Grades: 7 to 12

COVID Requirements: This class will be run mask-free. As a safety precaution, we ask that all students are fully vaccinated 2 weeks prior to the start of class. The teacher is also fully vaccinated. 

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