Elm Shakespeare Company enriches the lives of people from widely diverse backgrounds, and strengthens the artistic and educational landscape of New Haven with a commitment to offering free and accessible theater and innovative educational experiences in our parks, our classrooms, and our neighborhoods. ESC is a premiere theater company known for producing outstanding theater and educational programs that enrich the lives of people from widely diverse cultural, socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Our free performances engage people from near and far. Our theater and educational outreach make an enduring contribution to the artistic, cultural and economic vitality of the region.
The Elm Shakespeare Company was founded in January of 1995 as a not-for-profit arts education organization and presented its’ first professional production, Shakespeare’s Tempest, the summer of 1996. The cast was composed of professional, pre-professional, and student performers. The production was presented free of charge in New Haven's Edgerton Park to an audience of 3,500. The first year’s budget was $105,969.Elm Shakespeare Company has a $418,000 budget and presents one play throughout the month of August, with an audience exceeding 30,000- free of charge to the community
In addition to mounting 16 free productions in the park over the past 20 years, the company has run 4 primary educational programs (Artists in Residence, After School Arts Programming, Elm Scholar Apprenticeship Program, and Summer Camp in collaboration with the New Haven Housing Authority). Over the past 4 years approximately 1,000 students have participated in the company’s residencies, internships or camp (with numerous more students attending their peer’s performances).
Since its’ inception, the company’s productions and educational programs have achieved a reputation for high quality. A continuity of vision and leadership has contributed to Elm Shakespeare’s success. James Andreassi is the founding Artistic Director. Three years later Barbara Schaffer joined the company as its’ Director of Development, and for the next 11 years Margie Andreassi had been managing the company’s business affairs and productions full-time. In October 2015, Elm Shakespeare Founders have retired from their active day to day responsibilities. And although deeply committed to Elm Shakespeare leadership is now under the thoughtful and experienced arrival of a Producing Director, Rebecca Goodheart who has over 20 years of Shakespearean theater experience including founding a Shakespeare Festival in Maryland, designing and directing educational programs for San Francisco Shakespeare and an Chair of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's death for the Shakespeare Theater Association.
In the Park:
· 16 professional equity performances each August offering Free Shakespeare in the Park to widely diverse audiences of 30,000. Fully accessible and free of charge with voluntary donations.
· Elm Scholar High School Apprentice Program- An 8 week, pre-professional program in which 15 or more area high school students become members of Shakespeare in the Park cast and crew. This unique program combines classroom study of theatre arts with apprenticeship experience in the various aspects of theatre production and acting.
In the Classroom:
· HSchool Residencies- Partnerships with multiple New Haven high school English Departments to offer in depth & shorter term residencies culminating in a full or abridged production of a play from Shakespeare’s canon. This program addresses the needs of under resourced arts programs and engages at risk youth in inner city schools.
In the Community:
· After School and Summer Camps: Partnership programs with youth development organizations, such as New Haven Housing Authority, Programs cultivate unity and ensemble, trust, confidence, and skill building.
For two decades, The Elm Shakespeare Company has worked to transform and engage our community through the arts and education. As we embark on the next 20 years, we thrive and strive to grow and increase our already significant impact on the community. Thanks in large part to support from the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, ESC is embarking on a capacity building project to fine tune our strategic direction and priorities and create a business plan to take us into our next phase of growth.
2) Educational outreach through partnerships with community organizations and schools to provide residencies and after school programs; and summer theatre apprenticeships for local high school students to provide intensive training in the craft of theatre, as well as the opportunity to be fully integrated into the professional company through production and performance duties.We are proud to be celebrating 20 years bringing the arts to life in Greater New Haven. Pack a picnic and plan to join us this summer in Edgerton Park for an evening of magic under the stars.
What is it that Elm Shakespeare brings to our community? Indeed, we bring live professional theater, set in a public park, that transports us to exotic kingdoms of yore and fills us with the beauty of Shakespeare’s language. But Elm Shakespeare does more than this. We create a sense of place and community in our city uniting us and celebrating our diversity.
The past few summers we asked some of you to share your thoughts about our work.
“The performances in the park create a level playing field in such a beautifully diverse (ethnically, socioeconomically) city. Everyone can enjoy theatre, despite race or creed and come together to enjoy the experience of art in a natural setting. This transcends every barrier we place upon ourselves as a society, and is a rare and wonderful thing.”
“Elm Shakespeare has a cascade effect. The performances enrich the audience, the audience enlivens the community and the community flourishes.’
To our friends old and new, we ask that you help us preserve this wonderful gift to our community. Your gift is evidence that you value what Elm Shakespeare brings to the community each summer and throughout the school year.
Professional productions with performances presented free to the community throughout the month of August annually.
Short Term success is based on making professional live theater should be available to all members of our community. Professional theater experiences in New Haven continue to be predominately subscription and fee based and thus exclusive. Our audience grows each year as this diverse audience exuberantly partakes in this wonderful gift to the community. Keeping our quality programming free of charge and opening it up to anyone willing to partake- young or old, of any color or race supports our mission of uniting the artistry of Shakespeare and other classical playwrights with the development of our children and the strengthening of our city by joining together to benefit from art and theatre.
ESC staff and board measure successful completion of program objectives based on the following:
1. Success at achieving three weeks of performances.
2. Meeting the artistic goals set forth by our Artistic Director. Achieving artistic merit
and accolades as a professional theater in the New Haven community.
3. Growing our audience in both numbers and diversity and growing and diversifying our funding base and maintaining the current funding relationships.
4. Integrating our educational programs into our summer theatre.
5. Continuing to meet our overall organizational budget and specific project budget
The largest measure of evaluation comes from our audience as measured through
attendance, donations and finally specific feedback requested each summer from the
audience about our program. As we do each year, our evaluation results will be used as
input into the following year’s production both in terms of artistic creativity and cost
To combine ESC's educational initiatives with the full outdoor free live productions each summer through our Elm Scholars program. This program runs for 8 weeks in conjunction with the summer theatre and provides approximately fifteen area high school students with intensive training in the craft of theatre, as well as the opportunity to be fully integrated into the professional company through production and performance duties.
Offering these students the rare opportunity to work and study side by side with professional equity actors and technicians provides them a uniquely demanding and satisfying experience they’ll take with them forever. As one Scholar wrote to us following his experience:
My name is Ean Kessler and I have worked with Elm Shakespeare as an Elm Scholar for the past two years. This experience gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life: it gave root to my love of Shakespeare. I was part of a show of working actors- I saw men and women who were living a dream of mine. As a young actor I have a great deal to learn, and working with Elm Shakespeare furthered my knowledge in ways that can hardly be calculated. My experiences in this company were without a doubt some of the best of my life.
Ean’s mother, at that time, shared with us the Elm Shakespeare experience had been a turning point in Ean’s life and an opportunity of a lifetime – clarifying for him that his fantasy of becoming a professional actor could become the reality of his life as he began applying for scholarships to attend a university to study drama. Ean graduated from the Acting program at Rutgers University and is living in New York pursuing his dream of acting.
In 1995, the Elm Shakespeare Company developed an innovative residency program designed to teach New Haven high school students the power of Shakespeare’s language. A partnership was established with the High School in the community (HSC). Then in 1998, a visual arts component was added to the residency through a partnership with the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA). The focus of the residency was an exploration of the relationship between literary and visual arts. The students worked over several months with Elm Shakespeare staff to create a performance based on the works of Shakespeare. The students then selected paintings from the YCBA collection that resonated with them in terms of their characters and the play. Projections of these paintings were included in the student performance; which was presented at the museum for middle school students from throughout the Greater New Haven area.
Beginning in 2009 a new long term residency was created for Common Ground High School. Tailored to meet the unique curricular requirements of Common Ground, the residencies have focused on the role of nature in Shakespeare’s plays. The culmination of each residency is an outdoor performance presented by the students for family and friends.
ESC's Educational Director supervises and in some instances, lead teaches all ESC educational programs. This position is responsible for overseeing all curriculum decisions and program planning and monitoring and evaluating success of program and student performance and reporting to the Managing Director and Board of Directors.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Greater New Haven is home to a thriving arts community that includes theatre, music, dance and the visual arts. It is invested in its museums, historic preservation and the celebration of its members’ ethnic and cultural diversity.
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