The 20th Shakespeare's Greatest Hits Presents Othello and The Tempest
Twenty years ago, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits (SGH), a then experimental theater production featuring teen and children actors, started out in a small vaudeville theater in downtown Woodburn. This year, SGH will be presenting Othello and The Tempest on Saturday, March 14.
Both plays will be staged at the 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. showtimes at the Woodburn Fellowship Church of the Nazarene (3601 Newberg, Hwy., Woodburn), which has been hosting the event in the past 19 years.
Over the years, SGH has grown into a highly-acclaimed event that showcases the talents of predominantly teenage students. Directed by Christopher Leebrick, professional actor, award-winning storyteller, and drama teacher, SGH presents the bard's timeless plays in a highly-accessible format that audiences, familiar or unfamiliar with Shakespeare, are able to appreciate and thoroughly enjoy.
"I can't remember being moved more deeply and having a better time with Shakespeare's works," said Cristina Garcia, an SGH regular. "I'd usually be in tears watching the tragedies, and in stitches watching the comedies."
"I believe the players in Shakespeare's Greatest Hits are worthy and capable
of performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival," said Bridget Kurzweil, another SGH fan.
Notably, many of the actors started out being mostly unfamiliar with Shakespeare's plays, with little or no acting experience. Over a period of 10 weeks, with a day a week group rehearsal, the young actors undergo the rigors of theatrical training under the tutelage of a teacher noted for bringing out the best in his students.
"I just wish any kid could go through his tutelage. I think it's life changing
for all of them," said Marissa King, mother of a former SGH actor.
When asked what it's like to train teens in Shakespearean theater, the seemingly
tireless Leebrick said, "I feel like I've been hit by a train after rehearsals.
"Kids rise to the challenge when you expect a lot and give them a lot," he said. "I've seen it in my own kids and all the kids I've worked with."
Since becoming a professional storyteller in 1986, Leebrick has given over 2,000 professional storytelling performances for children, teens, and adults across the U.S. and internationally. He has performed in all 36 Oregon counties, and has told stories in over 200 Oregon towns. (Information about Leebrick's work is
available at www.allgoodstories.com.)
"Mr. Leebrick is someone I would not want to disappoint," Anna Maria Cobb,
a college freshman who's been with SGH since eighth grade and is playing Ariel in The Tempest.
Cobb added that the training she's received through SGH has opened many
doors for her, including acting jobs in television and movie productions.
Twenty years ago, Leebrick was approached by a mom who wanted to get a program like SGH going as a way for kids to learn about Shakespeare. Leebrick came up with a name, a format of two contrasting plays, and the rest is history.
"This created an opportunity for me to get deep into Shakespeare each year.
He's arguably the greatest dramatist who ever lived," Leebrick said.
This weekend, audiences will again have the chance to experience Shakespeare's
genius in Othello and The Tempest, played by teens over 400 years since these plays were written.
Othello revolves around themes of love, jealousy, betrayal, racism, revenge, and repentance, while The Tempest explores themes of family, betrayal, revenge, and forgiveness.
"Everybody can relate to these stories," Leebrick said. "After all, as Prospero's famous line in The Tempest goes, 'We are such stuff as dreams are
made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep.'"
So let the show begin.
Tickets can be purchased online for $8 at shakespeares-greatest-hits.ticketleap.com/sgh-2020.
to reserve tickets.
Call 971-343-2754 for more info.
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