Young Shakespeare Players

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Founded by Richard and Anne DiPrima in 1980, The Young Shakespeare Players (YSP) in its early years produced a single, annual backyard summer production involving about 20 actors. The theater has since grown into year-round company with its own building. The participants are all between 7 and 18 years of age, though those limits are extremely flexible. The actors perform full-length productions of William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw and, in 2007, performed David Edgar's ambitious RSC 8 and 1/2 hour adaptation of Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby in 2007. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, YSP currently produces four or five full-length Shakespeare plays per year; two Shaw plays; two workshops with complete scenes from Shakespeare’s plays; and six brief, text-based workshops focused on specific issues key to understanding or performing Shakespeare’s work, based on the RISARA (Rhythm, Imagery, Sound, Antitheses, Repetition, and Architecture) model. As of 2010, sixteen of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays appear in the theater’s regular repertoire; another fourteen are represented in part in the workshops.

Starting in 2010, YSP introduced the Veteran's Challenge Program, in which veterans of the theater perform a full length Shakespeare (a veteran of the theater entails having done at least two productions).

Along with Shakespeare and Shaw, YSP produces a Dicken's Dramatic Reading Society, in which casts of three actors read scenes of Dicken's novels without giving the plot away. In 2011, YSP is making history by performing a 10 and 1/2 hour adaptation of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.

YSP seeks to engage and to challenge the young people who participate. Plays are performed full-length and unaltered, and all actors who sign up are guaranteed one or more parts. YSP fully incorporates each participant in every phase of production: casting, rehearsing, directing, memorizing, providing technical support like make-up and stage management, performing, and cleaning.

The program is designed to show its young participants (and their families and the community) that the works of William Shakespeare are accessible and fun. The program is unique through the use of a system of 'explanation' and 'lines only' tapes (and, more recently, CD's). The 'explanation' tapes/CDs explain each line of an actors character(s), while the 'lines only' tapes have Richard reading the lines of the character himself. Participants and former participants have volunteered many comments indicating that their understanding and experience are greatly enhanced by the audio explanations and other YSP instructional materials. (Samples of these comments are available on the YSP website and by requesting copies from YSP.)

The Young Shakespeare Players also support The Shakespeare Circle, a group of Madison adults dedicated to studying and performing full-length scenes or complete plays of Shakespeare and Shaw in an informal atmosphere. Membership is open to all.

Full-length Shakespeare plays performed[edit]

  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet
  • The Tempest
  • Cymbeline
  • Richard II
  • Julius Caesar
  • Measure for Measure
  • Henry IV Part I
  • Othello
  • The Winter's Tale
  • Richard III
  • Twelfth Night
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Much Ado about Nothing
  • Henry IV Part II
  • As You Like It
  • A Comedy of Errors
  • Antony and Cleopatra


External links[edit]