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Author: Grace Dearnley

CSF supporter spotlight | Beyond the Rippon: Bringing Shakespeare to the Community

Each summer, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) captivates audiences with classic plays under the stars.

The festival has produced Shakespeare’s entire canon at least twice, but it involves more than the famous summer performances—and it operates through all four seasons.

CSF offers summer camps, book clubs, lectures at the Boulder Public Library, the Will Power Festival, after-school acting classes and more. Through their education and outreach programs, CSF works year-round to bring the transformative world of Shakespeare to communities across the state.

These programs are possible because of donors like Dorothy Riddle and her daughter Kathryn Penzkover, who give through their family foundation.

Dorothy and Kathryn have been patrons of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival since the 80s. Their favorite part of the festival is watching how each play can evolve and be adapted across settings and themes.

“I love how the [Colorado] Shakespeare Festival just takes them and puts their own spin on it,” said Kathryn. “I can see the same show over and over, and it’s always something different.”

For Dorothy and Kathryn’s family, donating to the education and outreach programs has been a way to introduce Shakespeare, and theatre in general, to younger generations.

“I was drawn to donate because I had read that Shakespeare wasn’t being taught on a regular basis in our schools, and my husband and I decided that we wanted to do something about that,” said Dorothy.

Not only is Dorothy and Kathryn’s support introducing community members to the Bard and his works, but it’s also allowing CSF to go much further by empowering young people to stand up to violence in everyday situations.

One of CSF’s flagship outreach efforts is the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program, which uses performances paired with role-playing to encourage young people to speak out against violence.

In Shakespeare’s plays, violence is rooted in thought, meaning it is almost always calculated and rarely gratuitous. That’s what makes the plays such useful teaching tools, according to Amanda Giguere, CSF director of outreach and coordinator of the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program.

“These are not violent plays; these are plays about violence,” said Giguere. “We get insight into another person’s mind thinking about violence… and then we see it committed and we see the ripple effect.” Showing this process to kids allows them to better understand the root causes of violence, so they can become empowered to strategize effective solutions.

When the program teams up with schools, the experience begins with a live performance, often “The Tempest” or “Twelfth Night.” Then, actors lead workshops where students role-play scenes and consider how they could intervene to stop violence before it occurs.

Giguere counts the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program as the most impactful program for students, as it lets them step into the play and enact their own preventative tactics against the characters’ violent acts.

“It really ties in to using your voice,” she said. “One of the key findings of violence prevention research is that if kids can learn to speak up… that can make a huge difference.”

Outreach efforts like the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention program, which involve people of all ages, create a culture that emphasizes the Bard’s accessibility. Most of the programs aim to introduce young people to Shakespeare’s work and ignite a passion for his plays from an early age.

Supported by donations like the Riddles’, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s education and outreach programs reach 16,000 people annually across Colorado communities. These workshops and classes foster a sense of community and help people of all ages grow.

According to Giguere, “Discovering these plays can really help people figure out more about how to communicate, how to put their thoughts into words and how to understand humanity.”

Give to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival

For information on how you can leave a legacy with lasting impact by including the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in your estate plans, please contact the CSF Advancement Office at 303-492-3054 or csfshakesperience@colorado.edu.

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