By Charles Douglass
Co-founder and Artistic Director
Over the past 22 years, I have often been asked about the mission of PALEF. They ask, “Why Shakespeare?” In particular, “How is the study of Shakespeare important to young people in our communities? Of course, I could talk about William for hours. But, in the interest of time, I try to condense my answers. PALEF top reasons for our focus on William Shakespeare: The Bard are listed below. I have also included some links should your interest be piqued to explore the greatest writer of all time:
Studies prove it works: We know that youth who are engaged in arts study do better in school and in life; they are more confident and competent--on that fact, most educators can agree.
Language Skills: Did you know that thousands of words and phrases used in modern language originated from Shakespeare? Yes, we use them every day. Our students become better communicators. Shakespeare's way with words is the reason his works are still studied today.
Life Skills: Shakespeare teaches us life lessons and language skills in ways that no other play wright that ways that no other has. Shakespeare’s ability to summarize the range of human emotions in simple yet profoundly eloquent verse is perhaps the greatest reason for his enduring popularity.
If you cannot find words to express how you feel about love or music or growing older, Shakespeare can speak for you. We encourage our students to use Shakespeare to explore their feelings, conflict resolution strategies and courses allow for self-expression and creativity.
Relevancy: The language of Shakespeare is rich, the characters are complex and many of his basic themes – love, treachery, honor, bravery and political intrigue – still resonate. Shakespeare continues to inspire creative works in others, even today.
And, on a more personal note, Shakespeare, and musical theatre in general, saved my life as a young man growing up in Philadelphia. I began performing in local theater and went on to perform on Broadway as The Wiz; not bad for a boy from Philly, right? It was in the study of Shakespeare that I found myself and my purpose. That is why I firmly believe in our mission and have dedicated my life to using this vehicle to foster resiliency in our youth, by building character and developing life and employment skills, we are making a difference in the world.
Please feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Performing Arts for Life and Education Foundation