By Kendle Butterworth
Since 2005, I have taught at Camp Shakespeare at Winedale, a residential summer program for students ages 11 to 16 in Round Top, Texas, where the population was 77 for many years. I have spent most of a decade at this summer program because I think its emphasis on teaching young people how to risk, explore, and strive to grow more than they ever have is transformative. I am lucky to work with Camp Director Dr. James Ayres, Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, who started the college Shakespeare at Winedale program 45 years ago, in 1970. I also work with my good friend and Associate Director Robin Grace Thompson, an accomplished performer and teacher in Austin, Texas.
When the students come they have all their lines memorized, so we spend the entire two weeks playing and exploring Shakespeare’s language. An important aspect of the Camp Shakespeare philosophy is that we have no “rehearsals;” every time we work on the play we are performing it with 100 percent of our energy, effort, and focus. Another fundamental component of Camp is teamwork. We are constantly emphasizing the give and take nature of Shakespeare’s words, and constantly asking the students: “How do you say your line to bring about a reaction in this next line?” We are always working on listening, cooperation, and risk taking. To that end, each evening we teach improv. As I have learned at MopCo, if a group of people learn to cooperate through improv, this cooperation easily translates to higher levels of trust, teamwork, and communication offstage. At Camp we always say that there we are really performing two plays that both inform each other: the play with Shakespeare’s words and the play in Camp life.
I’m sure next summer I’ll be returning again to sing, explore, risk, and play in the theatre barn in the field where we perform our plays. If you are a student between the ages of 11 and 16 and are interested in Camp Shakespeare, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are ever lucky enough to come to Winedale, I’m sure you’ll notice that we have all adopted a certain perspective on life, best said by Friar Francis in Much Ado About Nothing:
“Let wonder seem familiar.”
Meet the Author
Kendle Butterworth is delighted to join Mop Co. She hails from Weatherford, Texas, a land of tumbleweeds and rattlesnakes which endues all daughters of Texas with a certain scrappiness that translates to certain Butterworth characters. She performed with improv teams in Austin, Boulder, Denver and most recently in Albany with Off the Fisticuffs. She would like to thank all her friends and family for their continuous support and coming to so many shows!
Kendle is the teacher/mentor for Mopco's Youth Troupe.