Project Shakespeare students prepare ‘The Secret Garden’


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-26-2023 2:37 PM

Over April school break, 13 young actors are learning their lines and rehearsing for their presentation of “The Secret Garden” Saturday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 6 Payson Hill Road in Rindge.

The performance will be the culmination of a Project Shakespeare program called “One Play in One Week,” in which students join together to rehearse, stage and perform the play in one week’s time.

Deborah Shakespeare Thurber has spent 29 years sharing her love for theater with children of all ages. When asked what skills she thinks participants take away from acting, Thurber listed “teamwork, self awareness, on-stage movement skills, generosity and trust.” Thurber stresses that this program isn’t just teaching children how to stand up and read lines, but about children telling compelling stories.

The theme of “The Secret Garden” is about regrowth and restoration, and Thurber hopes each actor will learn how to apply this theme within their personal lives and then out into the world. 

Harold Thomas McCarthy plays Ben Weatherstaff, who is the gardener. He has been acting since the age of 8 and finds it to be a fun and fulfilling experience. As a 17-year-old, he takes on a mentor role and helps out the younger students in the program.

Louise Arsenault is part of the children’s ensemble and garden, and said, “I’ve learned a lot about choreography and about stage terms.”

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Along with Arsenault and McCarthy, the cast includes Amelia Rosbach and Rye Heinzmann in the children’s ensemble and garden, Clover Heinzman (acts one and three) and Penney Patterson (act two) splitting the role of Mary Lennox, Benjamin Michaud as Archibald Craven, Brayden Boice as Dr. Craven, Leila Burk as Mrs. Medlock, Alexander Brand as Colin Craven, Renzo Patterson as Dickon, Madelyn Hammer as Martha and Peyton Brand as the Robin. Samantha Chesney will serve as stage manager and sound operator.

Project Shakespeare is a nonprofit theater-education company and all donations are tax-deductible. A mission of Thurber’s is to make it accessible to children from all economic backgrounds.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 children 12 and under. Tickets are available 30 minutes prior to curtain.  

For information, visit