Rockville, Md. — Three theater students from TLC—The Treatment and Learning Centers’ Katherine Thomas High School were honored with distinguished acting
awards at the Folger Library Secondary School Shakespeare Theater Festival in March for their unique video storybook of Shakespeare’s Hamlet., directed by Mark Ricche of Imperial Theatrical Productions and starring Mathew Belew, Kamonde Price, and Danny Fernicola. KTS is a special education school for students with moderate to severe language and learning disabilities and/or high-functioning autism, preschool through 12th grade.
“We wanted to allow some leeway with our more traditional approaches to live theatre and this seemed like a great way to bridge the gap,” said Robert Young, Director of Education for the Folger Theatre.
The students worked for six months on the project through Ricche’s after school Shakespeare workshop, which began with in-depth study of the Elizabethan language. The innovative format was a first for the Folger, and the chance to present was a first for the high school, as well as a long-term goal of Ricche’s, who taught drama for 12 years at KTS, and high school director Rhona Schwartz:
“I have been wanting our kids to participate in the Folger Library Secondary Shakespeare Festival for years, and this was their shining moment,” said Schwartz.
Utilizing advanced video editing technology, Mark and his troupe created a ten-minute video which received high praise for its innovative approach.
“The best part of this whole project is that the Folger now has a copy of our project in their archives so these students are now immortalized in the Shakespeare pantheon. You just can’t beat that!” said Ricche.
About the Festival
The Folger Library Secondary Shakespeare Theater Festival, now in its thirtieth year, annually draws hundreds of students from throughout the Washington metropolitan area who perform prepared pieces from Shakespeare for each other. Abridged versions of the plays or theme-based montages are welcomed in Shakespeare’s original language. Festival commentators—drawn from the professional theater and Shakespeare education communities—share feedback and recognize exceptional performances, student directors, and good spirit amongst the students.