Educating students in Shakespeare

Actors Tepper Saffren, Francesca Caviglia and William Bednar perform “Good King Wenceslas” in December 2016 at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in Manhattan, N.Y. (Kalle Westerling)

At some Catholic elementary schools across New York, students are getting an education in math, science, language arts and Shakespeare. Stages on the Sound, a theater education nonprofit based out of Brooklyn, is setting out to make theater education an integral part of school curriculums, starting with the dioceses in their backyard.

The program, which was incorporated in 2005, was born out of the failure of another dream. It wasn’t until the team tabled their aspirations of renovating an amphitheater at the Seminary of Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., that “Stages” — as it is affectionately called by the staff — became fully realized.

“[The amphitheater was] what galvanized our relationships with one another and with the church really. We’ve always had this belief that there should be a mutually beneficial relationship between the church and the arts, that the church can help support the arts and arts can help support the church,” said Robert Choiniere, one of the founders and managing director of Stages.

A version of this story appeared in the Feb 24-March 9, 2017 print issue.

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