Category Archives: summer

Announcing our 2017 Season Lineup and 20th Year Milestone

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Not only does 2017 offer what promises to be a highly entertaining year of theatrical programming for DreamWrights Center for Community Arts, but also marks the theatre’s 20th year anniversary. “2017 will be an exciting year for us at DreamWrights,” comments Ann Davis, DreamWrights’ Executive Director. “Especially for those of us who are founding members and have been involved since the beginning, it is great to see the organization grow and develop. Since the beginning, DreamWrights has been offering educational and mentorship opportunities across multiple generations, while constantly strengthening our reach and impact on the greater York community. The 2017 season is well positioned to continue this growth.”

With shows from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, to the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hilary Adams, Director of Artistic Programming, says that this season will provide opportunities behind the scenes or on the stage for the seasoned DreamWrights participant as well as those thinking about trying something new. Adams explains, “We have comedies, dramas, and musicals. We have classic and modern text. On the technical side, we will be creating a diverse variety of theatrical worlds. We look forward to engaging the community and welcoming people to DreamWrights.”

This season, DreamWrights is proud to stage a world premiere by local playwright, Paige Hoke, Peter Pan and Mary or, the Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady, a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. For anyone familiar with Hoke or her work, this anticipated event promises to be popular for crew, cast, and audiences alike.

In addition, the 2017 season brings to life theatrical adaptations of books and films, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, family favorite, Babe the Sheep-Pig, and holiday staple, It’s a Wonderful Life. Adams reports, “In terms of education, adaptations provide an opportunity to experience a story in different forms. You could see the stage version first then work backwards, for example, watching the movie then reading the book, and then compare and contrast the differences between the various art forms.” She suggests this season provides plenty of inspiration for launching a reading club. “These adaptations would be fun to read and study. It would an excellent educational opportunity to look at an age appropriate theatrical adaptation, ask questions about the differences in the forms of the story, and then play with adapting a scene from the book or film to the stage.”

For summer time programming, DreamWrights’ Theatre Under the Trees brings Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew free to York County parks. Since 1998, Theatre Under the Trees has provided classic Shakespeare with a modern twist to fans and families.

DreamWrights 2017 season kicks off with Babe, the Sheep-Pig which runs February 10 – 26, followed by Pride and Prejudice (March 30 – April 1), Peter Pan and Wendy or, The Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady (May 5 – 21), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 22 – 25), The Taming Of the Shrew (July 21 – 29), The Mousetrap (August 11 – 20), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (October 6 – 22) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec 1 – 17). For further information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.dreamwrights.org.

Summer at DreamWrights

Meredith Singleton is embarking on her senior year at York Suburban High School. She is the President of the Trojan Theatre Club, plays violin with the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, sings with the York County Honors Choir, and represented her school last year at Regional Chorus. Her busy school and activity schedule doesn’t permit her to get involved at DreamWrights during the school year but for the past three summers, Meredith has participated with DreamWrights’ Shakespeare program, Theatre Under the Trees.

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Also this summer, she added something additional to her resume: Teen Camp Counselor.

As a rising senior, Meredith knows that she needs to soon decide what she will do after high school. With her interest in theatre, she decided to volunteer as a teen counselor at four DreamWrights summer camps. She explains, “I’ve been looking at colleges but I had no idea what I wanted to go into. Now I have a better idea.” Never having worked in a classroom before, Meredith confirmed her interest in teaching and theatre and recently has narrowed her college search to schools offering theatre arts and either early education, music education, and/or museum studies.

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Meredith remembers, “I liked working with the kids. It was a lot of fun. I had a good experience doing stuff with them.” DreamWrights’ Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler recognizes that she has a knack for working with younger kids in a theater environment, “I was very impressed with her work ethic. She is very proactive and I could always count on her to ask about the next thing. At times I have to tell her to go home.”

Calm and effective, Meredith was exposed to a variety of age ranges of campers. She loved that she could really see a difference in the campers from the time they arrived on the first day to when they performed on the last. “When I was working with the really little kids, there was this one girl who was so shy she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She was crying the first day when her mother dropped her off. But then on the last day she actually got up on stage to do her thing. I was so proud of her. “

DreamWrights is lucky Meredith decided to spend so much of her summer at the theatre. The only regret she has now is having more time during the school year to participate at DreamWrights. “That’s the one thing I regret about my busy schedule. If I had the opportunity to, I definitely would do more.”

Adults and Teens Take the Spotlight in The Beverly Hillbillies

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This summer, many adults and teens are taking the stage at DreamWrights’ production of The Beverly Hillbillies. There a few parts for younger actors, but primarily the show calls for an older cast. DreamWrights Guest Director, Kirk Wisler, is excited about this nuance, “It’s cool because Mom and Dad are really getting some time in the spotlight.”

A handful of these participants are new to DreamWrights. This might be the first time audiences will meet them. Kirk laughs, “The cast is doing such a good job getting into character, that I think they will be remembered as their character more than their actual identities. Hopefully this show will be talked about and looked back on for many years.”

'The Berverly Hillbillies' archive view

Humor is a large part of what makes this production appealing. Kirk explains, “I was attracted to this show because of the comedy aspect to it. It’s so much fun to block a show and add in your personal comedic taste. This show is very familiar to audiences, which builds the anticipation to see it!” Kirk is aware of the challenge the familiarity presents to him as a director. “Audience members have an idea in their head of each character and how the story should go. So it’s my job to make sure we live up to their expectations, while at the same time giving them something that they haven’t seen before.”

Kirk, the cast, and the crew are having a lot of fun staging the show and they hope audiences are equally entertained. It is Kirk’s hope that participants and audience members alike can forget about all the seriousness and negativity in the world today and instead, can enjoy themselves for a couple of hours. “Maybe that can carry over into the rest of their week or summer,” wishes Kirk.

'The Berverly Hillbillies' archive view

Director Kirk Wisler started at DreamWrights when he was in 4th grade acting, stage managing, and later coordinating stage combat scenes. He directed his first production, The Mouse that Roared, last summer and had such a good time that he is returning this summer to direct The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Beverly Hillbillies opens Friday, August 12 at 6:30pm and runs August 13, 19, 20 at 6:30pm and August 13, 14, 20, 21 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.

Building Imagination in a Diverse World

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For the past several years, Susan Craver has encouraged her granddaughters to participate in DreamWrights summer camps. Grandmother to 9 year old Ruby and 7 year old Dahlia, Susan knew her girls were creative and imaginative and she wanted to give them an outlet.

She tells a story about a day recently when she heard from her daughter about the girls. “My daughter said that Dahlia was upstairs producing a rock opera with singing parts for all the ponies. She was acting out the whole play singing every part. Meanwhile, Ruby was downstairs with all of her Fisher Price toys set out like they were in a play.” Susan recognizes, “They have wonder and pretend in them. They are great pretenders.”

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Ruby at Sculpture Camp

According to Susan, Ruby chose to do the sculpture class this summer. “She wanted to do something more artistic and hands-on rather than a production this year.” Susan says Ruby is more of a hands-on person where Dahlia is more active. “In the circus camp, she was all over the place.” She says with a chuckle. “That’s the great thing about theater because there’s always a slot for whatever your talent is.”

Susan has enjoyed bringing her granddaughters to productions at DreamWrights and they have loved everything they have come to see. “I see the benefits both from attending the productions as well as getting children to participate.” Both she and the girls have come to appreciate the group effort that it takes to stage a show. “There is a big element of cooperation that’s way beyond just standing up and doing your part.”

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Dahlia at Under the Big Top camp

Throughout the years that her granddaughters have been active at DreamWrights, Susan has seen a change in the mix of children who are participating. “Because we are diverse in the city – and I’m glad DreamWrights is in the city – I’m all for having as many different kids participating as possible. I think theater offers a diversity in and of itself that is just great for kids.” Indeed, DreamWrights welcomes kids of all backgrounds and ethnicities as we continue to “Build Characters for Life.”

Making Dreams Come True

Thirteen year old Dream Scholar, Bianca G., says that the motto at DreamWrights is true. “DreamWrights is a place where dreams do come true. I never thought that I would be in a performing arts program or that I might ever see a live performance.” But this summer, both of these dreams came true for this hard working young lady.

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The first week of summer camps, Bianca helped out as a teen counselor for two mini musicals, Pajama Party and Dinostars. Although very quiet and reserved, Bianca’s passion for theatre soon became very apparent. She was diligent in her counselor duties, she loved working with the younger kids, and she soaked up every bit of theatre experience she was exposed to that week. Bianca says, “I loved contributing and helping the younger kids because I could memorize their choreography and help them.” She took the initiative to work with some of the kids, providing them some extra coaching, when the Teaching Artist was busy with other campers.

During her down time, Bianca loved looking at the photo displays of actors and prior DreamWrights performances. She had never seen a live show before and when she realized that the musical, Legally Blonde was opening at the end of the week, she began to save towards the cost of a ticket. Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler, remembers, “She would give me updates every day. ‘Last night I did this for five dollars and today I’m doing this for a dollar so I can earn enough money to buy a ticket to see Legally Blonde.’ She was determined to see the show.”

And she did. She was there in the fifth row on opening night. She loved it. When the show was over she patiently waited for every actor’s signature on her program. She said she would treasure that program forever. Bianca remembers, “I was in my seat and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. I liked all the songs. I sang them when I went home. Literally I was talking about it all week the week after. I pulled up the Broadway version on YouTube and watched it a million times.”

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A few weeks later it was time for Bianca to come back to DreamWrights as a camp participant. She couldn’t wait. It was not a surprise that she chose to attend Broadway week. “I picked Broadway Week because I really like musicals and I think that maybe if I got to learn songs I could practice and that way when I get more successful I might be somewhere probably on Broadway or in a different show somewhere else.” Sure enough, during the week she learned many songs and even worked on a few solos. Bianca said Freak Flag from Shrek was her favorite.

On the eve of her Broadway camp performance, Bianca was full of anticipation. “I can’t wait to perform tomorrow because I’m going to be up there and a lot of people in my group always are cheering me on and we always have a laugh together and it is really fun. It is going to be sad tomorrow because the friends I made this week are really amazing.”

When asked about what she learned at DreamWrights, Bianca says, “The number one lesson I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be scared while singing up on stage because I know that the people I’m singing with really won’t judge me. We don’t judge anybody here because everyone is perfect in their own way.”

Bianca says she enjoys performance arts whether she’s onstage, back stage, or in the audience. She says she loves it “as long as I feel like I’m a part of it. Even in the audience you’re a part of it. Because you’re making people feel good about themselves when you sit there and watch them and when you cheer for them. Either way, when I’m backstage helping with lights or whatever it doesn’t really matter because I know that I’m a part of the solution.” But the most important part is to have fun and to let people know who you are. “Because you never know, maybe that person might star somewhere. Maybe their name might be heard somewhere, even if it is just something little. It is something that could influence other people.”

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We fully expect to see Bianca’s name in lights someday.

About Bianca G.: Bianca is a middle schooler at Helen Thackston Charter School. She wants to be a comic when she grows up. She loves musicals and comedies and likes to make people laugh without hurting their feelings. She says the best part about DreamWrights is the people. Next month, Bianca will be moving with her mother and two younger sisters. She is hoping to continue to develop her talent at a place like DreamWrights in her new town.

A Summer Institution: Shakespeare Free in the Parks

For its 18th summer, Theatre Under The Trees is adding a modern, musical twist to the classic Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It. Theatre Under The Trees has always brought unique, show-specific music to York County audiences thanks to co-founder, music, and voice director Gayle Eubank. Eubank will be composing original music for the five songs included in the play, taking inspiration from the late 1980’s. These songs will be performed by Strange Oaths, a five part band created just for the show.

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Band Strange Oaths, a band original to Theatre Under the Trees’ As You Like It. (left to right) standing: Johan Unger, Jesse Stagg, Gayle Eubank, seated: Andrea Hammond, Erika Broadaway

Shakespeare’s As You Like It begins with a bitter fight between brothers, followed by a wrestling match with a surprising outcome. Then banished cousins Rosalind and Celia travel to the very musical locale of Arden, where they are surprised to find love letters posted everywhere proclaiming Rosalind’s virtues. Once the mysterious suitor is revealed as Orlando, Rosalind takes advantage of her boyish disguise to educate him about the truths of women to the amusement of Celia and her jester, Touchstone. Rosalind’s banished father and his friends and a trio of shepherds are added to the Arden mix for even livelier entertainment.

Sponsored in party by the Hall Foundation, As You Like It opens on July 22, 6:30 pm at Gifford Pinchot State Park. 7 performances follow. Bring a blanket and some friends and come to the park nearest you. All performances are free, but donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, please visit http://www.dreamwrights.org/2016-season/as-you-like-it.

July 22 6:30 pm Gifford Pinchot State Park
July 23 5:30 pm Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market
July 24 6:30 pm Cousler Park
July 26 6:30 pm Rudy County Park
July 28 6:30 pm Sam Lewis State Park
July 29 6:30 pm William Kain County Park
July 30 6:30 pm Codorus State Park
July 31 2:30 pm DreamWrights

DreamWrights Offers a Creative Lineup of Summer Camps

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DreamWrights is in a period of transition and its lineup of summer camps reflects the innovation and change as well. New classes have been added to the mix to include hip hop, digital photography and movie making, wacky summer Olympics, and poetry reading, writing, and reciting with York’s very own Poet Laureate! DreamWrights will continue to offer its most popular camps which include Broadway Week, ballroom dancing, and three Disney musical productions.

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“This year we’re excited to offer Aladdin, Cinderella, and 101 Dalmatians Disney Kids Camps,” says Ann Davis, Executive Director of DreamWrights. “This will be our first year offering three of these camps.” Since the Disney licensed camps have been very popular and successful, DreamWrights has expanded to offering more this year than in the past.

Even though there is a significant cost to license the Disney camps, DreamWrights does not pass this additional cost on to the campers. DreamWrights does, however, honor the high quality of the Disney brand by keeping the student to teacher ratio low, allowing every camper the opportunity to be highly engaged throughout the week. Davis points out, “DreamWrights limits its enrollment for the Disney camps and for all of our camps to ensure lots of hands-on participation and exploration for all participants. This is what keeps many of our campers coming back.” These three Disney camps culminate with a final production that is open to the public. DreamWrights hopes to recoup some of the cost of the licensing through ticket sales of these shows.

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In addition to the beloved Disney musical camps, DreamWrights is offering several other mini musicals for the 3-5 and the 5 – 8 age groups. “Since we limit the minimum age for auditions to 7, we find that many kids who want to get started in theatre earlier really enjoy and thrive at our summer camps,” says Davis. “Many look forward to the first show for which they can audition after turning 7 and they attribute their success to the experiences they had at summer camp.” Not only that but they also learn the ropes at DreamWrights, becoming part of the family and putting them at ease when audition time rolls around.

Another summer favorite is the Create a Play camp. Led by DreamWrights’ Playwright-in-Residence, Diane Crews, during this week long camp, an original script will be inspired and created by the campers.  From auditions to rehearsals to the final production of the original play, campers will learn blocking, lines, as well as create characters, set, and costumes. “No two Create a Play camps are ever the same and the creativity that comes out of the campers is always delightful!” exclaims Crews. “I look forward to what they’ll come up with every year!”

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DreamWrights’ summer camps are offered in full and half day options. They kick off the week of June 20 and run for eight weeks.  For a full summer camp schedule or to register, please contact DreamWrights Center for Community Arts at 717-848-8623 or online at www.dreamwrights.org.

First Time Director Tips His Hat to his Father in The Mouse that Roared

Kirk Wisler

After nearly twenty years of performing in productions at DreamWrights and elsewhere, Kirk Wisler decided to step into a leadership position, and accepted the guest director role for The Mouse that Roared. Kirk remembers, “Back when I was in the fourth grade, my dad suggested I try out for a production at DreamWrights. I came, tried out, got in and have been doing it ever since.”

Since those early days, Kirk has been hoping to participate in a production with his father. Unfortunately, it never worked out due to too many scheduling conflicts. That was until now. Not only is The Mouse that Roared Kirk’s 30th show and his first time directing, but also it will be the first time he and his father will participate in a show together. Kirk explains, “The production calls for several voice-over parts. I want to pay tribute to several of my role models, including my Dad.”  So, Kirk has asked his father and some other of his role models to provide the voice over talent for the show. “It is my way of thanking them for getting me to this point. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

2015 DreamWrights The Mouse that Roared

Sentimentality, humor, intrigue, action, and romance. Mouse promises to have it all. You won’t want to miss it.

Tickets are available online, via phone, and in person at DreamWrights Box Office.
August 14, 15, 21 & 22 – 6:30 pm
August 15, 16, 22* & 23 – 2:30 pm
*Touch Tour and Audio-Described Performance
(reservations required)
$10 General Admission, $14 Reserved

An Interview with Theatre Under the Trees Director, Michelle Denise Norton

Director Michelle Denise Norton sat down with DreamWrighters to answer some questions about Theatre Under the Trees. You won’t want to miss a performance. There are three performances left! July 31 @ 6:30pm William Kain County Park, Aug 1 @ 6:30pm Codorus State Park, and Aug 2 @ 2:30pm at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre. Admission is free!

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DW: What is Theatre Under the Trees?  

MDN: Theatre Under The Trees is a branch of DreamWrights that tours the comedies of William Shakespeare in local parks.  Admission is free.  

DW: When/How did it get started?

MDN: In 1998, I wanted to direct an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the DreamWright’s Board agreed to support it.  The first year was a success and we have continued evolving over seventeen years.  I like to say I want to direct a show I’d love to sit in the audience for.  We aim to show people why Shakespeare still draws audiences after more than 4 centuries.  And to remind the world that Shakespeare wrote comedies as least as well as he wrote anything else.  I am amazed and very grateful that so many people have volunteered their time and talent for a program I feel so strongly about.

DW: How has it changed over the years?

MDN: Well, I took a year off, only to discover I missed it terribly and everyone still talked to me about Shakespeare anyway. <wink> Each year is really different.  I have learned to plan just enough ahead that I am ready to see who auditions and build the show from there.  Some years have different needs. The last time we did The Tempest, I knew I wanted to create a storm with dancers so I started discussing the show with a choreographer several months in advance.  But what we were able to do started from the people who showed up at auditions to share their talents. 

DW: What is your favorite performance and why?

MDN: I have two. One was a dress rehearsal of the original production of Twelfth Night and it was just a beautiful night outside, listening to one of Shakespeare’s best plays, done well by people enjoying the challenge. The actors had responded to every note I’d given them. Everything clicked.  It was perfect. The other was sitting in the grass at Sam Lewis Park watching Merchant of Venice.  One of the actresses had missed the previous performance due to a family emergency. I’d had to perform in her stead and when she came back, the entire cast had a new energy.  It was amazing.  Plus, I could sit in the grass in casual clothes rather than being onstage in a sweater, skirt and pantyhose.

DW: How is Shakespeare challenging and rewarding?

MDN: It’s rewarding for me because I get to see some of my favorite characters, vibrant, on stage, having new dimensions thanks to the actors who make them live.  The challenge is taking a random group of people and merging them with a play I’ve picked far in advance.  It can be a little scary the night between audition days.  

MDN: From a directing standpoint, I try to forget a lot of what I’ve done before so I can discover things again with a new cast.  It’s a group challenge to work out the meaning and dynamics of each play and relationship, as well as the physicality required by comedy in the Theatre Under The Trees style. With Shakespeare, we have to pay a lot of attention to the language, but the reward is the wonderful pictures Shakespeare created that the actors get to paint for the audiences.  

DW:   How is performing outside different then in a traditional theatre setting?

MDN: Performing actually started outside, with the Greeks and their theaters with seating cut into the sides of hills for better acoustics.  And in Shakespeare’s time, theaters lacked roofs and were open to wind and weather.  For our actors, we spend a lot of time building our voices and becoming aware of the mechanics of projection.  Changing locations for every performance brings unique challenges.  We learn to be flexible. We rehearse outside as much as possible and have tech and dress rehearsals in people’s backyards, weather permitting.

DW:     How can/ does weather play into your performances?

MDN: We stop for lightning.  The rest we mostly adjust to.  Everyone who has done Theatre Under The Trees has at least one good weather story. It’s always fun to hear people recalling their rain/hail/wind adventures for newcomers.  

DW: What’s the best thing for you about Theatre Under the Trees ?

MDN: The people I’ve met.  

DreamWrights’ New Bardolator

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To those who know me well, it is no secret that I am a bardolator. What is a bardolator, you may ask? A bardolator is a lover of all things Shakespeare! When I noticed Shakespearean Stages was being offered as a summer camp at DreamWrights, I was so excited to help out in any way I could. Getting kids and teens excited about Shakespeare is something that I think is so important, and I was happy to step in and assist this week of Shakespearean Stages camp. (Kelsey Markey is the actual instructor of this camp and is also a fan of the Bard!)

I am not sure how this love began, but my British heritage has certainly played a role (no pun intended) in my fascination with this legendary British playwright. Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to travel and visit family in the UK, and on my last go-around, I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in no place but Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Shakespeare was born in this little town along the Avon River in April 1564. He lived with his parents, Mary and John, and seven other siblings in a large home on Henley Street. When he was 18, he married Anne Hathaway and remained in the family home (middle right) even after they had their three children: Susanna, Judith, and Hamnet. Shakespeare died in 1616 and is buried under the altar of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford (bottom right). Above the inscription, a placard promises a curse on any who disturbs his grave.

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To me, Shakespeare’s hometown is not just a tourist-trap. It is the place where a man was inspired to put pen to paper and translate the most essential pieces of the human condition into writing. His language may be convoluted, outdated, or downright superfluous to some, but the ideas that he expresses in his 38 plays and 154 sonnets speak to the flaws in all of us– in any time– as human beings. At times, we are all consumed by the destructive ambition of Macbeth or the hesitation of Hamlet. We are as impulsive as Romeo in first love, and we channel Cordelia’s unconditional devotion in our own families. We all know those two “enemies” who, like Beatrice and Benedick, mask their true feelings for one another behind insults and banter.

I suppose I ask — in defense of William Shakespeare– that in theatre and beyond, we get past the differences in vocabulary, sentence structure, and culture of his plays. Instead, focus on the fascinating thread of humanity that weaves centuries of people together. If you allow this to happen, you need not travel very far: you will feel a connection with Shakespeare as profound as crossing the threshold of his home.

Hannah Kohler, Summer Camp Intern