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Ohio State Announces Partnership with UK's Royal Shakespeare Company

The Ohio State University today announced a special partnership with the UK's Royal Shakespeare Company, according to a formal announcement by Ohio State President Gordon Gee at the university's Board of Trustees meeting.

Gee called the unique international partnership one of the university's most important initiatives, an opportunity for two world-class institutions to come together to create a premier program for the study, teacher training and production of Shakespeare, inspired by the methodology and highly respected practices of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He said the partnership – the first of its kind in the US – is a natural fit with Ohio State's leadership role in arts and culture.

"This collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company is truly exciting," said Gee. "It builds on the University's tremendous strengths in the arts, brings a new cultural dimension to our community, and extends Ohio State's creative work around the world. Sustaining the fine and performing arts and bringing human expression to the fore are among our great callings as a public university."

Michael Boyd, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), who attended today's Trustees meeting said, "I know that this partnership will enrich the RSC's already highly successful education program. We look forward to sharing our deep commitment to inspiring and engaging students of all backgrounds and abilities in the work of our house playwright and learning from the innovative practices at The Ohio State University."

One of the predominant components of the partnership will be a three-year teacher education program centered upon the Royal Shakespeare Company's renowned "Stand Up for Shakespeare" program. This graduate-level enterprise will enrich Ohio public school teachers' ability to teach Shakespeare effectively to children at various grade levels, and is expected to embark in summer 2009.

The Royal Shakespeare Company / Ohio State partnership also will establish a Young People's Shakespeare Festival, tentatively planned for 2012, for central Ohio educators, students and the community.

Also attending the Board of Trustees meeting from the Royal Shakespeare Company for the kick-off of the partnership were Vikki Heywood, Executive Director, Jacqui O'Hanlon, Director of Education, and Lady Sainsbury, Deputy Chair of the RSC and Chair of RSC America.

This trans-institutional partnership is being spearheaded by the new Office for Arts and Culture at Ohio State, and includes the College of Education and Human Ecology, several departments in the Colleges of the Arts and Humanities, as well as the Wexner Center for the Arts. Students in the Department of Theatre will be actively engaged in working with Royal Shakespeare Company actors and public school teachers.

Explains Karen Bell, Associate Vice President for Arts and Culture, "This incredible partnership will give countless students in Ohio the opportunity to actively experience the timeless work of William Shakespeare in meaningful ways. We are unbelievably grateful that our public school teachers, Ohio State students and the community will work with the best of the best when it comes to Shakespeare – the most famous Shakespeare company in the world."

Working with Metro, STEM Schools
The RSC/Ohio State University Teacher Training Program will work with Metro High School in Columbus, and its statewide network of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) schools affiliated with the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN). The Metro School is located on the west campus of The Ohio State University, and serves schools across the county and state. The founding partners of Metro (Battelle, OSU and local school districts) designed the school to serve as a regional and state hub for educational innovation.

"Shakespeare and STEM education go hand-in-hand as powerful ways to engage young minds in complex texts, creative ideas and critical problems about the human condition," said Richard Rosen, Vice President for education and philanthropy and Executive Director of the OSLN.

By working with METRO and other schools in the Ohio STEM Learning Network, Stand Up for Shakespeare will be in the forefront of Ohio Governor Strickland's call for more exciting 21st century learning environments that place creativity, innovation, cultural awareness and global competence in the center of the classroom.

"Connecting Shakespeare with STEM education is another great example of how collaborative approaches across K-12 and higher education can increase quality, spread access and reduce costs," said Eric Fingerhut, Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

About Stand Up for Shakespeare
The Royal Shakespeare Company's "Stand Up for Shakespeare" was launched in March 2008 in the UK to bring Shakespeare alive in the classroom. Based on what the company has learned from the thousands of young people it works with (65,000 in the last 2 years alone), it calls for young people and their teachers to:

• Do it on your feet – explore plays actively and practically in the classroom, as actors do

• See it live – see live performances

• Start it earlier – introduce Shakespeare to younger age groups.

In Ohio, the Stand Up for Shakespeare approach will focus on developing leadership in arts-based pedagogy through an intense, three-year teacher training program. During the academic years 2009-2012, OSU will support week-long summer workshops in Stratford-upon-Avon and week-long summer workshops in central Ohio for teacher leaders. These intensive workshops led by teaching faculty from Ohio State and education staff and actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company will bring the timeless literature of Shakespeare to life for students in grades 3-12.

Teachers will work with professional artists from the Royal Shakespeare Company and attend productions while in the UK. In Ohio, their students will benefit from learning about Shakespeare from their teachers and from graduate acting students in Ohio State's Department of Theatre.

About the Royal Shakespeare Company
The UK's Royal Shakespeare Company is one of the best-known theatre companies in the world, performing in the town of Shakespeare's birth and death, Stratford-upon-Avon, throughout the UK and on tour across the world, as well as engaging in extensive education and outreach programs.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is an ensemble company -- everyone from directors, actors and writers to production, administrative, technical and workshop staff -- all collaborate in its distinctive and unmistakable approach to theatre. The company employs more than 700 people who either work directly on producing and running the productions or within roles that directly support the work that takes place on stage.

The company aims to keep audiences in touch with Shakespeare as a contemporary – understanding his work through today's artists, actors and writers. The company's repertoire not only includes the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries but classic plays by international dramatists and work by living writers. The company also produces extensive education and outreach programs to engage more people with Shakespeare's work and live theatre.

The company has operated under its current name since 1961 but its roots go back to the building of the first permanent theatre in Stratford in the late 1800s. Her Majesty The Queen is Patron of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is the Royal Shakespeare Company's President and chairs the Company's Annual General Meetings.

For more about the Royal Shakespeare Company, see www.rsc.org.uk.

For more about Ohio State, go to the website osu.edu
For more about the Office for Arts and Culture at Ohio State, visit artsandculture.osu.edu