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Jaffrey/Peterborough

Journey to Bard’s world

Students fundraising for trip to England for the chance to perform at Royal Shakespeare Company

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Young actors from throughout the Monadnock region act out scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Hamlet" for Project Shakespeare 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

A dead king murdered by his own brother, who has now claimed the throne of Denmark and the widowed queen as his own. In the eyes of Prince Hamlet, the world cannot go on. It mustn’t go on.

With so many universal themes in William Shakespeare’s influential tragedy, “Hamlet,” Project Shakespeare Director Deborah Thurber of Jaffrey said at a rehearsal at the United Church in Jaffrey on Thursday that it’s difficult to pick just one to explore with her experienced cast. Instead, the famous line, “To be or not to be that is the question,” is one she is examining through all of the play’s characters and subplots. Hamlet has so many choices in life, so which direction will he choose? And will his choice be the best one for Denmark?

“It is a production in which Hamlet literally and figuratively embraces close those he loves, and must suffer the slings and arrows of losing those he loves,” Thurber said of Project Shakespeare’s 2013 take on “Hamlet.” “Will the audience identify with that theme? I can’t imagine a single one of adult age, anyway, who will not. We all follow the dictates of our heart and not always to the best of outcomes.”

Project Shakespeare is a nonprofit theater educational company serving students in the greater Monadnock area. And for the first time in its six year history in the Monadnock region, the 2013 summer season will include two productions: “Hamlet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” While Thurber is directing Shakespeare’s tragedy, Project Shakespeare alumnae Angela Vroom, a Los Angles, Calif., theater and visual artist, is tackling Shakespeare’s best known comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which features four young Athenian lovers and some mischievous forest fairies.

By expanding the program, Thurber said there are more opportunities for younger actors to take on larger roles and begin rehearsing their craft at an earlier age. “At 7 years old, they are just as hungry to perform Shakespeare,” she said. “I’ve been here for six years and its time for the program to grow.”

Vroom, who worked with Thurber as a student at Nashua High School about 15 years ago, said Project Shakespeare was a memorable part of her childhood and the relationships she established through the program have endured years later. “I couldn’t help but return to something that was so important to me,” she said of her decision to return to New Hampshire and direct this summer.

More than 20 students, ages 7 to 20, are acting in this summer’s Project Shakespeare productions, with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opening Aug. 1 and “Hamlet” opening Aug. 2, both at 6 p.m. on the lawn of the Jaffrey Civic Center on Main Street. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students; children under 12 are free.

While the plays are strikingly different at face value, Sarah Hurley, 16, of Peterborough, an actress in both productions, said “Hamlet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” provide commentary on human relationships, whether between lovers, friends or family, and the perils that must often be endured. While “Midsummer Night’s Dream” shows us fun, fluffy love, Hurley said “Hamlet” provides lessons in revenge and sacrifice.

Vroom said “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a play about balance and love and that, unlike in Hamlet, order is restored in a chaotic world. “The action of the play explores the comedy and chaos of imbalance and moves toward a resolution of harmony and joy,” she said. In addition to this season’s expanded repertoire, many of the actors are prepping for August 2014 when they will take “Hamlet” across the Atlantic Ocean to Stratford, England, to perform at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s outdoor theater, The Dell. Sanford Temperature Control of Milford donated $500 this month to help pay for the trip, which Thurber said is expected to cost about $30,000 for approximately 10 people .

The trip to England is something Christopher Commander, 20, of Jaffrey, who moved to the U.S. about nine years ago, helped plan. Commander, a Project Shakespeare veteran who will play Hamlet, said being able to bring theater to the people of the Monadnock region is one of his greatest joys, and that he can’t wait to share the theater group’s production of “Hamlet” with an English audience.

When Commander returned to England in 2011 for a visit he was presented with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. Commander said he met someone associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company and began discussing Project Shakespeare’s program and his involvement. The prestigious company doesn’t typically invite international groups to perform, but Commander said Project Shakespeare intrigued them. After all the necessary paperwork was filled out and submitted, he said Project Shakespeare’s application to perform was accepted and so the fundraising begins.

Alexa Murray, 18, of Amherst, who plays the Player Queen in “Hamlet,” said the chance to go to England next year is unmatched. “I have loved Shakespeare ever since I was little and grabbed my mom’s copy of his complete works. I’d love to be able to honor one of my favorite authors this way,” she said.

Genna Weidner, 16, of Dublin said she never imagined that at such a young age she would have the opportunity to act in the original land of Shakespeare, and is excited to perform for a diverse crowd.

Seeing the excitement on the young actors faces as they prepare for this summer’s performances and look ahead to August 2014 in England is something Vroom said brings her back to her adolescent days. Even though many former Project Shakespeare students have not gone on to full-time theatrical careers, Vroom said the lessons she learned from Shakespeare and Thurber’s teachings helped shape who she is as an adult.

“Part of expanding Project Shakespeare now is our desire to build an even stronger foundation so the program can continue to serve the community for many years to come,” she said. “Having had the experience this summer of working with new members of Project Shakespeare, I feel confident and happy to say that the future of the company and program is very bright.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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