San Francisco Shakespeare Festival Brings His Plays To Life Through Kids' Free Shakespeare in the Park this Summer!
The Camp's Education
Director, Phil Lowery
speaks to India Parent
Magazine more on this
Can you please tell us your philosophy and the
basic premise of Shakespeare Camp?
This is our 27th year of kids into the act through
Bay Area Shakespeare Camp, which is one of the
many Educational programs offered by San Francisco
Our mission is to make the words and themes of
Shakespeare accessible to everyone, regardless of age,
ethnicity, financial status or level of education.
A few of the cornerstones of our philosophy are:
Learning should be fun and experiential. (Learning
is naturally fun if the opportunities are presented as
The plays are called "plays" for good reason; not
"works". Play is how we learn.
Shakespeare is best spoken aloud and played upon
a stage, not read silently from a book.
We don't make a distinction between Art and
Education; Art is Education.
The earlier kids are exposed to Shakespeare - and
all arts - the more easily they absorb it and begin to
make connections, and the longer lasting the impact.
What is your Child/Teacher Ratio?
Our maximum ratio is: 15:1, but many of our
camps also have interns or part-time managers, so the
ration can vary from as low as 8:1 to 15:1
Can you explain a little bit about method of training?
What is your overall Philosophy?
Most of the work we do in camp takes the form of
interactive activities and games, in most cases, involving
the entire body, sometime the voice, and at all
times, the imagination. Rather than front-loading with
lecture and demonstration, we usually back-load our
exercises. That is, we give just enough instruction to
get the students started on an exercise, so they have a
direct experience first, and then we encourage them to
reflect upon their experience, put it into words, and to
apply what they've learned to the project they're
What is the typical schedule for a child? Do you
take kids to competitions?
Our day begins with a full group morning meeting,
greeting and warm-up of our bodies, voices and
imaginations. We then break up into smaller groups
(based on age level) for classes in Voice and
Movement, Discovering Shakespeare, and Production
and Design. In most camps, we have two classes
before lunch, and one class after lunch. In the afternoon,
we hold rehearsals of the plays each group is
working on, in preparation for the performances on
the last day of camp.
This year, Shakespeare Players (ages 7-13) will be
working on their own versions of As You Like It, The
Tempest and a collection of comic scenes called
Playing the Fool. The Upstart Crows (ages 12-18) will
be working on The Taming of the Shrew.
How do you deal with challenging kids? What
are your training methods?
We recognize that everyone has a bad day now
and then, and we acknowledge feelings and try to
make room for a variety of experiences, as long as one
child's challenges don't disrupt the learning experience
of the rest of the group. We set aside a quiet
space if a child needs to separate and relax before
rejoining the group.
What kind of background do you expect from your
Our teachers are all experienced Teaching Artists,
many of whom are professional actors, directors
and/or designers. All of our teachers are expected to
know their craft (acting, directing, coaching) and to
have experience with Shakespeare's verse. In addition,
we provide training for the specific curriculum
we've developed over the years.
How is the ethnic mix in your camp? Do you welcome
Everyone is welcome at San Francisco
Shakespeare Festival and all of our programs, including
our summer camps. We have camps all over the
Bay Area, and the ethnic mixes in our camps typically
reflect the community they take place in. In the
South Bay (San Jose, Cupertino, Fremont, etc.), for
example, at least half of our campers are of South
Asian or Chinese heritage.
Do you think an ambitious student can be helped
to move forward faster?
I'm not really sure what to make of this question,
because the work isn't necessarily linear, so "forward"
doesn't have the kind of meaning it might
have in, say, science or mathematics. Rather, I would
say we could help the ambitious student move deeper.
Simply parsing the verse or memorizing their lines
may challenge some students. The more ambitious
student may memorize quickly, and can then work on
developing an increasingly deep understanding of
the character and the text, and can be coached to
direct their ambition and energy toward greater and
more nuanced expression.
What is your message
to our readers?
Experience is welcome
but not required to have
a fun and enriching
Shakespeare Camp. For
those with prior experience,
we'll build on that
and help move them to
the next rung on the ladder
so as to speak. Those
who are curious and new
to theatre will experience
the thrill of their first
performance! Also, our
camps tend to fill up
quickly, so don't delay.
And if a camp is listed as
"full" please add your
child's name to the waiting
list, so we can determine
if we need to open