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shakespeare for all neighbors

Storytelling workshops for our neighbors experiencing homelessness

Shakespeare for All Neighbors (S4AN) is a pilot storytelling workshop series taking place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Neighbors experiencing homelessness in the Tenderloin will engage with workshops in Shakespeare and Storytelling. Festival teaching artists will lead group exercises in creative thinking, acting, improv, and storytelling.

The program began in 2018 with storytelling workshops held with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. The workshops took place at various community spaces in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. This led to a multi year collaboration with community based organizations addressing inequities arising for those living in poverty and experiencing housing insecurity.  Artistic residencies, rooted in equitable arts engagement, created opportunities for individual empowerment and centering disenfranchised voices.

S4AN fosters participation in the arts and strengthens the Festival’s capacity to engage with under served Californians via co-creation and partnerships by enhancing community inclusion and making our process responsive to the community’s self-identified needs. With support from California Arts Council we partner with The Healing WELL, a Tenderloin neighborhood based community organization for healing, renewal, and growth.

SF Shakes Resident Artist and Engagement Team member Maryssa Wanlass brings decades of experience working in underserved communities to this program which she has led since its inception. Returning team members include Alex Trono and Al Niotta.

The curriculum, developed by Festival teaching artists, draws on the extensive arts education experience within SF Shakes and outside sources such as Red Ladder TheatreCornerstone Theatre, Augusto Boal’s classic work Theatre of the Oppressed. Those participating in the S4AN program will be engaged through improvisation informed by fusing their own experience with Shakespeare’s structure and poetic perspective. The workshops also serve as community building exercises that foster individual self expression and mutual support.  Participants will also have opportunities to share their work with community partners, receive structured feedback from Festival artists and present their stories to the wider community.