The Flatwater Shakespeare Company believes in bringing young people into direct contact with Shakespeare's language and stagecraft. Our hands-on approach has led to a series of successful productions and to the development of a youth ensemble whose members can build on past experiences and can share that experience with others.
In 2005, our first students worked on short scenes from several Shakespearean plays. The classes were supported by the Lied Center for the Performing Arts AdventureLied program, and were led by Youth Director Tom Crew and the Lied's Laura Kendall. The scenes were presented at the Lied's Johnny Carson Theatre, on the set of Flatwater Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.
That summer, Flatwater teamed up with the Haymarket Theatre in Lincoln to present a young persons' version of Shakespeare's Henry V. Speeches were shared by a wide range of characters, establishing a precedent of rearranging but still preserving as much of Shakespeare's text as possible. Henry in the Hood was presented at the Swan Theatre, on the set of Flatwater's Henry V.
Since 2006, Education Director Stephen Buhler has adapted plays in Flatwater's season not only for young people but also for increased gender balance in the roles. The Comedy of Errors - the Female Version, for example, was completely gender-reversed, with newly hilarious results and impressively assured performances.
Directed by Tom Crew, these shows have offered exciting opportunities for young actors, many of whom have subsequently advanced to Flatwater mainstage productions and also to Theater programs at colleges and universities in Nebraska and across the nation.
Our Youth Programs have been sponsored by grants from the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the Lincoln Arts Council.