Welcome to the Annual Shakesperience at Rider University where we continue our tradition of serious fun and celebration of Shakespeare.
The festival purpose is to explore and interpret text—and Shakespeare’s texts especially—in a variety of ways in small and large groups. Not a drama competition, the featured Shakespearean performances are prepared and presented by diverse middle and high school students from across the region for the festival. The premise of the festival is that the best way to learn is through hands-on engagement; in this case, to perform Shakespeare is to understand Shakespeare. A festival of learning and Shakespearean performance for middle and high school students, the very name of the festival combines Shakespeare + experience.
As a prelude to the afternoon Shakespearean performances, we have created a moveable feast of morning workshop experiences intended to be as educative as they are entertaining. In addition to Cam Magee from Washington, DC, our festival instructors and commentators include faculty from across the Rider University community—the School of Education, School of Fine & Performing Arts, and Westminster Choir College.
Enjoy this day making new friends and reveling in each other’s intelligence, talent, and company!
Download: Shakesperience Program (pdf)
A Shakesperience Sampler – A Look at Festival Day
Meet Tyler Daddario ’16
Tyler Daddario ’16 is a Shakesperience veteran, who attended the festival first as a student for four years, where he performed with the Cumberland Regional High School Players under the direction of Mrs. Elisabeth Campbell in: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Texas! (Slender), The Comedy of Errors (Angelo), The Taming of the Shrew (Hortensio), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the 1980’s (Bottom). Tyler then attended Rider University where he recently graduated with a Theatre Studies major and a minor in Arts Administration. While a student at Rider, Tyler participated in the festival that he attended as a student as Shakesperience Theater Manager/Technical Director for three years. From backstage of the festival, Tyler saw behind the festival scene and was able to see directly the impact that a experience like Shakesperience has on students—both inside the classroom and out. To Tyler, Shakesperience is a celebration about all that is good in theater, giving all participants the chance to explore, discover, and learn from each other, collectively honoring all that makes us unique as talented artists and learners. Following his time with Shakesperience, Tyler has gone on to intern at the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, GA, and as a cast member of the Walt Disney Company with the Disney College Program in the Walt Disney World Resort, FL. This summer, Tyler will be the Company Manager for the summer season at the Forestburgh Playhouse, NY!
History of Shakesperience at Rider University
Born in the Yvonne Theatre at Rider University in May 2007, Shakesperience at Rider is a Shakespeare festival for middle and high school students that has become a rite of spring for hundreds of diverse students and their teachers from across the region.
The two-day festival was modeled originally on the weeklong student Shakespeare festivals hosted by the esteemed Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Shakesperience at Rider has evolved to include our own unique spin on the Folger model with morning workshops, lunch where participants discuss their “concepts and choices” in creating festival performance pieces, and afternoon performances of Shakespeare.
Rider faculty and teaching artists from various schools and colleges conduct morning workshops including combat choreography, body percussion, English country-dance, Shakespeare Aloud, and theater arts. Thanks to our festival teachers and faculty, the workshops give participants some new knowledge and skills as well as a chance to meet and work with students from other schools.
Not a drama competition, the all-day festival features collaborations and performances among and between a variety of students throughout from across the region including public, private, and home-schooled students. Each group of students who participate in the festival has prepared to perform one scene or scenes from any of Shakespeare’s plays. Time on stage is between 15 to 25 minutes. Performances may omit passages from Shakespeare text but may not adapt text in any way, no modern language, no text mash-ups or reinventions. Performances may play with context and use brief contemporary English “bridges.” Performers limit reliance on costumes, props, and technical support. If using music, it is performed live.
Following their performances, each group receives commentary from Rider theater faculty and specific commendations for their festival work overall. Some commendations include: Social Relevance, Fresh Re-Imagining of Shakespeare, Spirit of the Festival, Fidelity to Text, and Novel Interpretation.
The name of the festival combines the concepts of Shakespeare + experience. The premise of the festival is that the best way to learn and understand is through hands-on engagement; to perform Shakespeare is to create meaning from his work.