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Youth Ensemble Masters and Performs Shakespeare’s Richard II

The Young Shakespeare Players East, a non-profit theater program based in New England, invites young people to perform full-length, original works of Shakespeare. The 2016-17 season kicks off with Richard II, the story of a bad King who becomes a great victim.

Youth Ensemble Masters and Performs Shakespeare’s Richard II
Greenfield, MA, December 03, 2016 --( “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” - William Shakespeare, Richard II

Can kids ages eight to eighteen do Shakespeare? Yes, uncut and incredible. The Young Shakespeare Players East is a non-profit theater program based in western Massachusetts where young people perform full-length, original works of Shakespeare.

The 2016-17 season kicks off with Richard II by William Shakespeare. The play tells a story of conspiracy and uprising, family and generational power struggles, legacy and corruption.

"It has been a fascinating journey for the young actors to immerse in Richard II during this presidential election cycle," expressed Suzanne Rubinstein, the program's director. The actors have drawn many parallels between today and 1399. For instance, similarities in the public conduct of the rich and powerful. The actors were surprised to find a familiar lack of restraint, empathy and civility displayed by some of the nobility in the play. In Richard II there is a lot of aggressive, argumentative and accusatory behavior - which never leads to anything positive.

However, Shakespeare did a remarkable thing with Richard II. Instead of vilifying this bad King until his murder (sorry for the spoiler), Shakespeare decided to bring out Richard’s beautiful humanity once the fallen king resigned to being deposed and imprisoned. When the weight of ruling the kingdom is removed and he is stripped of his wealth and title, Richard’s humanity emerges.

Shakespeare reminds us, once again, that human nature is nuanced and complex. Richard II teaches us that people have always been cruel, corrupt, violent, selfish as well as compassionate, loving, reflective, loyal and caring. Finally, Richard II reminds us that people have the power to change.

“I am thrilled that these young people have an opportunity to observe, explore, analyze and play with these important themes," remarked Rubinstein. “It is my hope that by immersing in Richard II the members of the YSP East ensemble gain a deeper understanding of human nature and the spirals of history, and this knowledge provides them with some comfort and strength.”

Free performances will take place at The Sloan Theater, Greenfield Community College on January 11, 13, 14, and 15. More details are available online:
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Young Shakespeare Players East
Suzanne Rubinstein

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