Alaska Public recently profiled Shona Osterhout, Perseverance Theatre’s director of education, who visited eighth graders to review Othello. As part of Juneau’s Any Given Child program, Osterhout stops in at middle school classrooms and asks students to act out the plot of Shakespeare’s plays.
Through support from the Kennedy Center, in co-ordination with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Any Given Child allowed every eighth grade student in Juneau to attend Perseverance Theatre’s presentation of Othello for free. Two schools participated in post-production discussions. The initiative aims to strengthen and celebrate programs focused on arts learning, invest in talent development and the creative economy, as well as heighten community awareness and participation in the arts.
According to Alaska Public, Osterhout strives to keep Shakespeare’s works accessible to young audiences and emphasizes the playwright’s timeless themes of love and jealousy. She focuses on allowing the students to move and act out the plot before they’ve seen the play.
When they see what’s going on and they hear what’s going on and the words are a little different and hard to understand, they’ll know exactly because they’ve done it themselves or they’ve watched their friends do it, which is always way more important. I can sit there and talk to them for hours and hours, but if their friends do it, we’re in like Flynn. – Osterhout, Alaska Public