Celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday with The Denver Public Schools

The 30th Annual Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival will be on Friday, April 25, 2014.

This year’s theme play is Hamlet. Approximately 5,000 DPS students will perform at the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC). This nationally recognized festival is the only Folger Site to have received the coveted Folger Library Shakespeare Stewardship Award. We are the oldest and largest student Shakespeare Festival in the country. This day-long Festival is held in downtown Denver and provides the opportunity for students to perform scenes and sonnets from the works of William Shakespeare as well as demonstrate the dance, and vocal and instrumental music of Shakespeare’s time.

417px-Cobbe_portrait_of_ShakespeareThe Festival opens with ceremonies at the Daniels and Fisher Tower, followed by a short parade down the 16th Street Mall to the DPAC stages. Performances last throughout the day on multiple stages and are open and free to the public.

“In watching several performances at the festival on Friday, I was struck not only by how cool Shakespeare still is to our kids—as the Post points out—but also by what a great beyond-the-classroom education experience it is. Simply studying Shakespeare in the classroom is in it of itself a rich lesson in literature, culture, language, and politics. And having the opportunity to stage or act in a production of Shakespeare’s works at a world-class venue like the Performing Arts Center takes those lessons a step further, giving students a chance to experience the thrill and personal rewards of creative expression, which is such a critical part of a well-rounded education.”

–Superintendant Tom Boasberg

This is by far the largest student Bard festival in the nation, a sea of kings, soldiers, maidens, jesters and ghosts donning everything from Elizabethan to African tribal garb. Where pretend corpses are outnumbered only by flapping fairy wings, and girls seem to outnumber boys 10 to 1.

The actors all come from a school district where for 18 percent English is not their first language. So it includes Rita Broderick’s “Shakespeare Sisters” — seven girls from the English as a Second Language class she teaches at CMS Community School. Girls who, when told a few months ago they would be performing Shakespeare, responded in unison, “Who’s that?”