The Viola Voice

Shakespeare for Girls: The Blog


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The National Women’s Studies Association has a blog for students. Check it out!


Written by Ellie

31 July, 2008. Thursday. at 5:09 pm

Mathematician Moon Duchin

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I used to love math. It was one of my favorite subjects in high school, in part because I was lucky enough to have really good teachers who were excited about the subject themselves. Even though I went on to pursue more arts-oriented subjects in college and beyond, I still think math is pretty cool– so much so that I have my old calculus textbook in my apartment, which I look through every so often.
Anyway, partly because of my love of math, I thought I’d share this article about a mathematician named Moon Duchin, who also had an interest in math at a young age, and then went on to Harvard to study both math and women’s studies. She was particularly interested in the Great Man theory of genius, and how it is dependent on the organization of society. Now, she weaves together her love of math with her quest for gender equality. I love that she had two seemingly separate interests which she has combined to do something truly meaningful with her life.

Read the article and tell me what you think:

Written by Ellie

16 July, 2008. Wednesday. at 2:42 pm

New Summer Workshop!

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We’re almost done with A Midsummer Night’s Bootcamp! The girls are doing amazing work, and you should all come to see our final performance tomorrow (Friday), June 27, at City Lit Theatre, 1020 W Bryn Mawr. The performance starts at 3:15pm, free admission. It’ll be a great show, filled with lovers, fairy royalty, clowns, magic, and lots of trickery. I guarantee you will be entertained.

And the shameless plug continues: The Viola Project is adding ANOTHER week-long bootcamp in July! Here’s the info:

The Tempest: An Enchanted Boot Camp

July 7-11, M-F 9am-4pm. $275.

Join TVP in exploring one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. Find your way to an enchanted island where sorcerers, spirits and monsters rule the land, finding romance, magic and comedy along the way. Students will rehearse scenes and work as an ensemble to create their own version of the play to perform at the end of the week. Click here to register!

In addition, we’ve added a one-day workshop on July 26, our THIRD annual Sonnet Slam! Read on…

A Summer’s Day Sonnet Slam

Saturday, July 26, 9am-4pm. $75.

Love to act? Love to write? Why choose? This one-day workshop, back by popular demand, will combine the performance of Shakespeare’s poetry with a chance for students to write their own. Open to girls 11 and up. Click here to register!

Whatever plans you have for the summer, we hope that you include some summer Shakespeare fun with The Viola Project!

Written by Ellie

26 June, 2008. Thursday. at 7:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

I DEMAND a recount!

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Where are all the artists?

Apparently, not in Illinois. According to a 2003-2005 U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois is home to 79,932 artists. We come in fifth place to states California, New York, Texas and Florida. Our number reflects only 4% of 1.99 million U.S. artists.

While Chicago is home to one of the largest “cluster” of artists- third after New York City and Los Angeles- artists fall relatively short in Illinois compared to the overall labor force: 6,390,213.

This makes me a little outraged. I have lived in Chicago all my life, and feel like this place is teeming with artists. Granted, I have my biases- growing up in artistically diverse Oak Park, in a theatre family, graduating from college with two “arts” degrees and working what I consider two “arts” jobs- I’ll admit I come in contact with a great deal of the 4% of artists cited. However, I still feel as if the number falls short.

This makes me wonder: How does the government define the term “artist”?

I decide to make a quick check on the U.S. Census Bureau website. Searches such as “definition artist”, “occupation artist”, “arts”, “artists in Illinois” and just plain “artist” come up empty. I google “what is an artist” and come up with such prolific answers as “Obviously, an artist is someone who creates art, just as a baker is someone who bakes bread, and a plumber is someone who installs and repairs plumbing.”

I don’t feel the answer is as easy as that.

I think of my orthodontist growing up in Oak Park. Dr. Alyward spent five days a week working at a job that, no doubt, brought home a majority of his income. Yet, the man was mean when it came to playing the guitar. While regluing a bracket or changing the rubber bands on my braces, he would talking about the bands he played with, and the songs he would sing. I will always remember him serenading me with “Seasons of Love” during some long, tedious dental procedure that required me not to talk. And have you seen my teeth? I haven’t worn braces for years, and they are still perfectly straight. The man is an artist, in every sense of the word.

I guess I just want to know what the government thinks of me, because I consider myself an artist. At one part time job, I sell theatre tickets. At TVP, I teach Shakespeare to girls ages 8-18. Simply put, I am in education and work in retail. But it isn’t that simple. The government doesn’t take in to account the time I spend reading the various theatre reviews in Chicago newspapers. Nor do they register the amount of Chicago theatre I’ve spent money on so I have my own first hand account. Or my hours reading and taking notes on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, trying to turn the themes and concepts from the play into activities that would interest the average eight to eighteen-year old. Or the hundreds of e-mails I send to Ellie, Reina, Andy, Molly and Alex to prep for a one day workshop or our upcoming benefit.

I wonder how many people in Illinois consider themselves artists in comparison to that 79,000. Less or more? What do you think?



Written by theladyshakes

22 June, 2008. Sunday. at 9:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chicago SWEEPS Tony’s 2008!

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I don’t know about you, but I have never been more proud to be from CHICAGO!

Congrats Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Steppenwolf!

Now, all you bloggers, I have a mission for you: GO SEE A PLAY!



The Viola Project

Chicago’s Premiere Shakespeare Company for Girls

Written by theladyshakes

15 June, 2008. Sunday. at 7:55 pm

Posted in shakespeare, theatre

An Intergrated Prom- in 2008

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Did anyone else see this article this morning? I literally double-taked this blurb I saw on the NPR homepage.

Born and bred in a liberal home in Midwestern Chicago, I guess I just cannot believe that something like Prom ISN’T integrated. At a public school, no less.

Mississippi School Holds First Interracial Prom

Catherine Farquharson and Paul Saltzman. All rights reserved. From the film “Prom Night In Mississippi.”
The Bryant Park Project, June 11, 2008 · Mississippi integrated its public schools in 1970, but segregation still haunts parts of the culture. One example of this could be found at Charleston High School. The Delta town had maintained a system of separate proms — organized privately — for black and white students.

As far back as 1997, actor Morgan Freeman, a Charleston local, offered to pay for the dance if everyone could go. This year, officials finally accepted the offer. A Canadian film crew led by Paul Saltzman documented the event for the upcoming Prom Night in Mississippi.

A photographer working with the crew says people in Charleston didn’t question the segregated dances. But as the big night approached, the importance of the change became clear. Catherine Farquharson followed several kids as they washed their cars and had their hair done.

She describes one encounter in an African-American beauty parlor, in which an elderly woman who’d been part of the civil rights movement stopped in to see what the hubbub was about. The woman ended up giving an impromptu testimony about the history these young people were about to make. “It was almost like it didn’t occur to a lot of the kids, until the day of the prom, how important what was going on really was,” Farquharson reports.

Student Chasidy Buckley says that Charleston’s first interracial prom made for a happy and comfortable night. Some white parents wouldn’t let their kids go, and some insisted on holding a private prom for their kids. But mostly, Buckley says, students enjoyed themselves — even if they’d expected a boring formal.

“It was just magnificent,” Buckley says. “That night, when we stepped in that door, everybody just had a good time. We proved ourselves wrong. We proved the community wrong, because they didn’t think that it was going to happen.”

Buckley says the school has decided to host a prom next year, giving black and white kids another chance to dress up and step out. “It’s going to continue to go on in our school, and if it continues to go on in our school, then our community will continue to improve,” she says. “It’ll impact them, too, because once they see that blacks and whites can come together in school and have fun together, then they’ll see that the community can change, too.”

Well, bloggers, what do you think?

Written by theladyshakes

11 June, 2008. Wednesday. at 3:37 pm

Posted in media, schools

Theatre Aids Emotional Development

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Theater Aids Emotional Development
By: Psych Central Senior News Editor
on Friday,
Jul, 20, 2007July 20, 2007 at 8:05 amUniversity of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign, and the study’s lead author.

Reviewed by: John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Researchers report high school theater programs can strengthen
adolescent emotional skills.

In a unique study, researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-
Champaign conducted open-ended interviews and observations to gain an
in-depth understanding of one setting—a high school theater program.

Ten teenagers were interviewed every two weeks over a three-month
period while the theater group rehearsed a musical.
The study appears in the July-August 2007 issue of the journal Child

Adolescents face formidable challenges in emotional development. To
become functional adults, they must learn to manage the emotions that
unfold in complex social interactions, including those in
collaborative work groups. Yet little is known about the day-to-day
circumstances of adolescents’ emotional development.

Two adults who led the production also were interviewed biweekly. In
addition, the researchers observed the rehearsals weekly. During the
rehearsals, teenagers reported frequent emotional experiences,
including disappointment, anger, anxiety, and exhilaration.

The program provided a culture that helped them learn to respond
constructively to the events and feelings associated with these
different emotions, the researchers found. The adults provided models
and helped the teens cultivate strategies to manage strong emotions.
The youth learned from repeatedly using these strategies to employ
positive emotions to motivate their work; they also learned how to
manage their own and others’ negative emotions.

The theater setting supported this process by putting the youth in
situations in which emotions were likely to occur because the
expectation of hard work created stress and tension. Moreover,
intense emotions were accepted and discussed openly with a climate of
concern for others. The adults and youth alike stated shared beliefs
about the importance of emotional experience, and the adolescents
drew on the models and ideas of the culture as they learned about the
dynamics of emotions in themselves and in groups.

The researchers also found that the young people were very actively
engaged in the process of emotional learning. In the theater setting,
they were proactive in learning to manage emotional situations,
evaluated experiences and put to use the insights they gained, and
actively drew on the ideas and assistance of adults and peers.

“The development of ‘emotional intelligence’ is important to adult
work and family life, but many young people arrive in adulthood with
incomplete emotional skills,” according to Reed W. Larson, professor
of human and community development at the

“These preliminary findings suggest how, under the right conditions,
adolescents strengthen these skills. Although further research is
needed, youth programs and schools that provide these conditions may
be more likely to facilitate emotional learning. “

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Written by theladyshakes

9 June, 2008. Monday. at 11:46 am

Posted in schools, theatre