News Column

Knighthorse rides to Keene Valley

August 2, 2014

By Robin Caudell, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Aug. 02--KEENE VALLEY -- Tyrus "Ty" Lemerande and Amy McLaughlin of Knight Horse Theatre Company know Shakespeare. They know kids.

Kids love to play dress up -- princes, princesses and knights -- and they abound in the text of the Bard of Avon.

Today, the Book & Blanket Youth Theatre presents "Shakespeare 4 Fun" at the Keene Central School.

"We have 10 children from ages 10 to 15," said Kathy Recchia, director of Book & Blanket. "We are presenting eight scenes from different plays."

Ben Caito, Matthew Caito, Ceilidh Cheeseman, Linnae D'Auria, Anise Hetman, Jacob Hetman, Sierra McGiveny, Harvey Runyon, Ana Serjak and Sarah Woltner will star in scenes that include "Much To Do About Nothing" and "Romeo and Juliet."

"Ty and Amy are based in Massachusetts," Recchia said. "I found them by accident. Usually, what we do with the summer is a musical in a week. Because of my other theater obligations (Depot Theatre and Pendragon Theatre), I couldn't do that this year. I was looking for something else, another theater avenue for the kids to have for this summer. I found some old newspaper clippings when these guys were in Malone. It was some years ago."

Recchia Googled them and loved what she saw on their website and called them.

"They explained to me how they bring Shakespeare to young people," Recchia said. "We only have them for Friday and Saturday, and they will perform with the kids."

Knighthorse is a nonprofit traveling theater company dedicated to turning students of every age on to all things Shakespeare.

"We're doing the prep with the kids this week," Recchia said. "When Ty and Amy come in, they will teach them stage combat and they will tweak everything we've done."

The actors and actresses received their script a week and a half ago.

"We had two Skype sessions with Ty and Amy before we cast the kids in the roles. We all met in the library. We had an idea what scenes we wanted to do with the kids. Each kid got to stand in front of the computer and introduce themselves to them. Ty and Amy are so present with Shakespeare and know how to talk to kids and make something written hundreds of years ago sound contemporary and explain it to kids."

After the first Skype session, the children knew what character they wanted to portray.

"They couldn't have done that without that session with Amy and Ty," Recchia said.

"They had a Skype session Tuesday of this week to help them think about their scene and who they are. You have to know who you're fighting with and why you're fighting."

Lemerande compared it to musical theater. First, there are words. Then, it goes beyond words. A character bursts into song and dance. But he wanted the youths to understand the motivation behind their characters' actions.

"You have to go beyond words and start fighting," Recchia said.

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Source: Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, NY)

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