When we speak about educating the next generation of theater artists and technicians we are not really telling the whole story — in fact, we are reaching out to the next TWO generations of theater artists. We do this by means of our outreach program, of which the lynchpin is our student matinee for middle and high school students.
Every year, we schedule student matinee performances for two of our productions and invite students from Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut to join us in the theater. To round out the experience — for many, their first with live theater — we offer pre-show workshops, study guides, post-show question-and-answer sessions, and backstage tours.
With the exception of tickets to the performances themselves, all of our outreach resources are FREE.
Information on this page:
Student matinees help teachers meet requirements of the state's Arts Curriculum Frameworks by introducing children to live performance and serving as a springboard to the kind of critical thinking about the arts that the frameworks want every child to learn. We keep them affordable so the greatest possible number of students can go: $8 per student, only $6 per student for groups of 20 or more. Chaperones are FREE.
The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Shakespeare & Co Artistic Director Tony Simotes
School Matinee Tues 10/28 10 am
The Rand Theater
*our opening day performance is a special fundraising event and will have assigned seating
“All that glisters is not gold.”
To fund his friend’s efforts to court the resourceful lady Portia, Venetian merchant Antonio borrows money from the much-abused Shylock. When Antonio defaults on his loan, Shylock demands his due: a pound of the merchant’s flesh. Shakespeare’s provocative comedy asks tough questions about mercy, justice, and belonging that resonate today. Tony Simotes, artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, returns to UMass to direct alumnus Stephen Driscoll ’73** as Shylock in this production.
**Actors Equity Association
Offers students an opportunity to engage with Shakespeare text and opens avenues for class discussions about anti-Semitism, prejudice, justice, and related topics. Recommended for advanced middle schoolers and up.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Jared Culverhouse
School Matinee Tues 3/3 10 am
The Rand Theater
“What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof? …Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can...”
Sixty years after its premiere, Tennessee Williams’s thundering masterpiece has lost none of its impact. An American classic, Cat serves up an explosive Southern cocktail of sex, death, and revelation in the form of its unforgettable heroine, Maggie, and her struggle for dominance on the “hot tin roof” of her marriage bed. As the embattled Pollitt clan gathers to celebrate its dying patriarch’s birthday, will Maggie emerge victorious?
Offer students students an opportunity to see a play in the American classic canon and opens up avenues for class discussion about race, social roles, sexuality, and family dysfunction/relationships. Recommended for high schoolers and up.
Interested in bringing a group? Email the public relations director or call 545-6808.
The shows students see will spark questions, comments, and observations. To give them a chance to talk things over, we offer a 20- to 30-minute Q&A with the director, members of the cast, and other members of the production.
Immediately following each matinee.
Helps teachers encourage critical thinking and analysis about the performance students have just seen, and often gives students with an interest in higher education in the arts the chance to ask college students about their experience.
Our study guides are paired with our student matinees and offer a helpful overview of the production students are about to see. Guides generally include a plot synopsis and biographical information on the playwright. Other information is tailored to the needs of the production and may include historical context, an interview with the director, an overview of a theatrical genre or performance style, or important issues touched on in the play. We strongly recommend that students read the guide before seeing the show, especially if they are not reading the play in class. Study guides are posted as PDF for download about 4 weeks before the Schools Matinee performance.
Past study guides are archived in the sidebar.
Helps teachers address elements of the English and Arts Curriculum Frameworks including those related to reading comprehension, dramatic and classic literature, critical thinking, critical response, and more.
Generally — but not exclusively — timed to prepare students for an upcoming matinee, we offer students a chance to delve deeper into the world of theater. In workshops tailored to the group's needs and experience level, we talk about theater, review theater etiquette, and ask students to participate in exercises that will help them better understand the matinee production they'll be seeing. Exercises include acting games, discussions, journaling and more, as appropriate to the production, and are led by graduate and undergraduate students in the department who are involved in the production.
If a workshop is not focussed around an upcoming matinee, we speak more generally about the world of theater, teach them introductory acting techniques, and get students thinking about the many elements that go into putting on a show.
Helps teachers introduce students to the world of theater, both onstage and behind the scenes, and gives students the tools to analyze what they will see onstage in our matinees or any other productions they may see in the future.
How do we do it? Audience members often wonder about the costumes, sets, lights, and the other elements that may have gone into putting a production together. We give away our secrets on our guided backstage tour, where students get a chance to walk on stage, view the scene and costume shops, learn about the equipment we use to make the play run smoothly, and see the sets and props up close. Tours are led by production stage managers.
Immediately following each matinee, must be requested in advance.
Introduces students to technical elements of the theater.
To request any of these services or resources, or for more information, email the public relations director or call 545-6808.