(Ashland, Ore.) —By the time spring term ends in June, the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University will have hosted nearly 2,000 middle and high school students as part of the University’s Center for Shakespeare Studies’ Visiting Group Program.
The program, which began in 1986, provides an opportunity for students to stay in dorms on the SOU campus while attending shows at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Although many groups come from Oregon public schools, the workshops help fulfill the mandated requirement for non-public and out-of-state visiting groups to take four hours of academic instruction when staying on campus. Groups often take a combination of workshops at SOU and at OSF. The 50 minute workshops, which are offered on a variety of topics, incorporate a hands-on approach designed to get students excited about Shakespeare and theater.
“These workshops are not designed just for students already interested in theater or active in their schools’ drama clubs,” said Helen Eckard, SOU’s visiting groups coordinator. “There’s something for everyone and kids can learn about stage combat, acting, Elizabethan fashion and costume design, theatrical makeup, music during the time of Shakespeare, and much more.”
The workshops also provide students an opportunity to meet and interact with professional actors and others making a living in theater. “While we want to show the students who are interested in theater that there are many options out there in terms of education and career,” Eckard said, “we also want all of the students who take part in this program to get excited about attending college in general and to leave with an appreciation for SOU, but, of course, we do hope they fall in love with the theatre.”
The nearly 2,000 students that will take part in the program this spring come from more than 40 schools and clubs representing six states plus British Columbia. One group is coming from as far away as New York.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.