Many aspiring actors, writers and directors have been introduced to the Bard’s works thanks to the Houston Shakespeare Festival. This year, the event will expand on its mission to inspire young minds through a new training program at the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance.
The Houston Shakespeare Festival Conservatory will run July 24 – Aug. 7 and offer pre-professional stage training to Texas high school students. Directed by veteran theater educator Katherine Powdrell, the conservatory will provide instruction in stage movement, acting, language, stage combat and understanding plot, scenes and character development.
Joining Powdrell in teaching the conservatory will be UH theater faculty and HSF’s professional cast and crew. Among the instructors will be television actor Seth Gilliam (“The Wire”), who will play the title role in HSF’s “Othello.”
“We’re going to approach these students as young pre-professionals, who are going to either seek theater degrees or will eventually become seasoned performers, ” said Powdrell, an alumna of UH’s School of Theatre & Dance and theater teacher at Friendswood High School. “They will receive a firsthand look at a resident Shakespeare company during rehearsals and also learn from these actors, designers and dramaturges.”
Conservatory students also will develop short scenes they will perform on the Miller Outdoor Theater lawn prior to each HSF performance.
“Students will create these performances themselves,” said Tina Neuhauser, HSF general manager. “They’ll write and perform these pieces, as well as make any props or costume pieces that are needed. It will be excellent experience for them and contribute to the festival atmosphere at Miller Outdoor Theater.”
While this conservatory is the first of its kind in the city, the festival itself is celebrating 37 year of entertaining Houstonians. In addition to “Othello,” HSF also will present “Taming of the Shrew” directed by Jack Young, UH associate professor of theater. All performances begin at 8:30 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theater and are free to the public. For more details, visit http://houstonfestivalscompany.com/. Performance dates are as follows
"Othello" - July 29, 31, Aug. 2, 4, and 6
"Taming of the Shrew" - July 30, August 3, 5, and 7