This weekend, 25 teens from the Buffalo Public Schools will take to the stage to perform a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.
These students are participants in Peace of the City's summer youth project, "Shakespeare Comes to (716)," which was founded in 2009 by executive director Diann Takens-Cerbone. The program's relationship-based approach utilizes the creative arts as a means to educate these students about issues they will confront in their own lives and to allow them to express their individual creative potential. The themes from Shakespeare's works still prove relevant to today's urban youth, and this program seeks to give them some hands-on exposure to those valuable lessons as they bring them to life on stage.
"Every summer, we admire the commitment and enthusiasm our teens show for Shakespeare," said Takens-Cerbone. "This summer program gives teens an opportunity to work hard to showcase their talent and truly experience the stage in front of an appreciative audience."
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy set in the gossip-filled world of the beauty salon, where the classic battle of the sexes unfurls in an explosive game of "he-said, she said." Megan McClain Kwacz, director of creative arts for Peace of the City, guided the students through many hours of preparation for the big show and has witnessed the positive impact that the program has had on them.
"Providing a way for teens to express themselves creatively and combining that with help in the classroom is powerful," Kwacz said. "Studies show that kids gain confidence and perform better academically when creative arts and education are combined in a meaningful way. Shakespeare challenges our teens to master new phrasing and techniques that build their skills. We're excited to see them excel both on stage and in the classroom."
The performances this weekend will be held at the Ujima TheaterLoft, located at 545 Elmwood Avenue. Opening night will be held Friday, July 20 at 7 p.m. The following performances will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m.; and Monday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available first-come, first-serve and are sold on a "pay-what-you-can" basis, following suit with Peace of the City
's commitment to include all members of the community. Make sure you get there early--all four performances sold out last year.