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With a little attitude, unwinding on an early morning hike to the top of

“Arthur’s Seat,” Edinburgh’s tallest promontory,

Edinburgh

Performance Four

 

Warmups for performance three in Central Hall

A very satisfied cast after our second performance in Central Hall. We are meeting our high expectations. More to come…

Prospero and Miranda in Act I of The Tempest

The last three days in Edinburgh have been, well, a tempest. Today we visited the Scottish Parliament, completed our tech rehearsal, “busked” (handed out leaflets) on the Royal Mile, and did final preparations for our first performance tomorrow.

Edinburgh Central Hall

Tech Rehearsal (a real eye-opener)

After the Hamilton Flash Mob (250 students)

Doing what they do best: Experiencing the world!

First London then off to Edinburgh!

Fantastic two days in London, where we saw the most traditional of plays in the Globe with Much Ado About Nothing, then the most technologically enhanced, the RSC’s The Tempest at the Barbican. Now in beautiful Edinburgh, we are preparing for our technical rehearsal to be followed by our first performance in Edinburgh’s Central Hall Auditorium. Stay tuned!

 

Thanks to the Great Audience at Paris Gibson Square!

Outdoors at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art 

Our last Performance Before Edinburgh, Scotland

Bozeman Black Box

Join us in Scotland at Edinburgh’s Central Hall 

For Our Performance of

 Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Support Belt on the Fringe!

Our talented and dedicated actors, their parents and friends are heavily involved in fundraising activities to finance the Players’ two-week “performance” adventure to England and Scotland. Donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible (TIN 81-6000136).

If you prefer to mail, please send contributions to:

Jeff Ross, Belt High School, #1 Church St., Belt, MT 59412.

See Montana News Coverage from KRTV 

An open letter to our friends and future supporters…

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Dear Friends, An inspiring story is developing in our own Montana backyard and I want you to know about it! The Belt Valley Shakespeare Players, our youth theater troupe, has been selected by the American High School Theatre Festival to perform at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest and most prestigious performing arts festival in the world! Stretching from Hawaii to Maine, Florida to Alaska, we are one of only 50 “top” US and Canadian high school programs selected to perform in Scotland.

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Our high school actors will begin their two-week tour next August, first to London, and then to Scotland where we will perform Shakespeare’s The Tempest for international audiences at the Fringe. That’s right. Our young Montanans are traveling to the British Isles to perform Shakespeare! Imagine the dedication, skill, and confidence required to embrace this kind of challenge; and embrace it we have. International Performances, Not Just an Educational “Trip” to Europe Our selection as one of the “elite” programs in the United States is a great honor, especially for such a small program, but just being selected is not enough. To fulfill the promise we need your participation. Getting to Scotland and underwriting our four performances will take nearly $7,000 for each actor, crewmember, directors, and chaperones, 16 total. Do the math. It’s a substantial amount of money, but not unreasonable when you consider these funds cover flights, ground transportation, housing, workshops, tours, theater tickets, and all the costs associated with four productions in Edinburgh. Approximately 28% of the total are production costs.

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Caliban and Trinculo

This international honor is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students, and a point of pride for our Montana community. Kevin Asselin, Executive Artistic director of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, calls participation at the Fringe a “life-changing event.” Participating directors all agree with Kevin’s assessment. Whether an immediate and profound transformation, or one that is more gradual, students will explore and express themselves within the “world community.” Moreover, this journey of discovery also has the potential to significantly impact students in neighboring Montana communities where students may now see a special opportunity perhaps never before available to them. With your assistance this can be a defining moment for the development of youth theater in central Montana. With the restoration and opening of the Belt Performing Arts Center this coming spring, we have the opportunity to develop a nationally recognized program in which young people from around the region can participate and belong. Our Mission: The Belt Valley Shakespeare Players is a non-profit youth theater that fosters community, intellectual curiosity, creativity, and confidence with personal and public expression primarily through the study, practice, and performance of the works of William Shakespeare. As an educator and director, I believe all students, including those from small rural communities, should have the opportunity to participate in a theater program worthy of their interests and talent. In fact BVSP does not audition for inclusion in our plays; all participants have speaking roles. We have seen what happens when our young people take advantage of even the narrowest opportunity to the performing arts.

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Over the last five years our actors have mastered our “disadvantages,” transforming a program with no tradition, no stage, few resources, and guided by a “green” director, into a troupe now garnering national recognition. Nevertheless, even with our material challenges, we have never identified ourselves as an “underdog” because talent, energy, confidence and perseverance are internal markers of individual and collective character, not the external characteristics of a well-funded program or theatrical space. How Much Do We Value the Arts? The evidence of our support for the performing arts, or lack thereof, can be found all around us. Young people quickly discern what a community values by what that community chooses to build. And with the restoration of the Belt Performing Arts Center and our youth theater program’s recognition and invitation to Scotland, the stars are now fully aligned for vibrant youth theater in our region. With your help our journey to Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe can be the catalyst for the continuing development of the performing arts both within and beyond the Belt Valley. Join us and be a part of this story. Our actors and parents are currently heavily involved in fundraising. Please consider helping the Players with a generous tax-deductible contribution. You may contribute online below or mail your contribution to Belt High School. If you would like more information or would just like to chat, please email, write, or call and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for your interest and support! Sincerely, Jeff Ross Director, Belt Valley Shakespeare Players

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The Belt Valley Shakespeare Players Preparing for “Scenes, Snacks, and Conversation” in November

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Shakespeare’s The Tempest

February 10-12, 2017

The Ursuline Center

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Click here to see us on KRTV in Great Falls, Montana!

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“Belt Actors Make Shakespeare fun” Great Falls Tribune Article Link

          Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I

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P1040216  DSC01948 DSC01935 Hal Hal     DSC01763 Hotspur DSC01832  Breather A break Henry  King Henry  Falstaff Falstaff Douglas  Douglas DSC01778 Lady Mortimer  DSC01786 Lady Percy DSC01725a DSC01743a Above, Kevin Asselin, Executive Artistic Director for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, directs a stage-combat workshop for Belt Shakespeare actors in preparation for Henry IV Part I.     DSC01722

 Coming Winter 2018…

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Thank you all for supporting and attending our spring 2015 performances of

Twelfth Night

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About Belt Valley Shakespeare Players

“Shakespeare Alive and Well at Belt High School.” Great Falls Tribune. Great Falls Tribune Videos, 18 March 2014. Web. 27 Dec. 2014.

Dear Friends, Seven years ago when I became the new Belt High School English teacher, I became aware of the exciting potential of the Belt Theater building and the prospect for the development of youth theater in Belt. Seven years later and I’m still a relative newcomer to this project, for many have worked on the Theater’s revival years before my arrival. Now, with seven years of Belt High School Theater experience under our belts, including productions of Our Town, The Importance of Being Earnest, Pygmalion, You Can’t Take It With You, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and As You Like It, and with last year’s renovation of the Belt Theater Ballroom into our “Shakespeare Theater,” we are ready to take another step in our development, one that extends theatrical opportunities to students around our region, particularly students, families, and audiences from surrounding rural communities.  And while this year’s production of Twelfth Night will be generously supported by Belt High School and the Belt Performing Arts Center, this year marks the transition to our first multi-school cast, and to our new regionally-inclusive name: Belt Valley Shakespeare Players. Belt Valley Shakespeare Players Mission Statement The Belt Valley Shakespeare Players is a non-profit youth theater that fosters community, intellectual curiosity, creativity, and confidence with personal and public expression primarily through the study, practice, and performance of the works of William Shakespeare.  Belt Valley Shakespeare Players value:

  • opportunity for all students in grades 7-12
  • focus on collaboration not competition
  • emphasis on student-driven exploration of character (with assistance, students develop their own “authentic” interpretations of character and theme directly from Shakespeare’s texts)
  • free admission for middle and high school students to performances at The Belt Performing Arts Center

Lately The Belt Performing Arts Center has been synonymous with Shakespeare.

Yes Shakespeare, both in voice and spirit. Two years ago our high school theater performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the summer of 2013, I attended a three-week teacher’s residency at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Twenty-one teachers from around the country attended the program where we learned techniques for “Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance.” To see some of my experiences at Shakespeare’s Globe in London click on the “Beltian at the Globe” link at the top of the page. And last spring we performed As You Like It in our new modest theatrical home inspired by London’s Globe, our very own “Shakespeare Theater.”

Why is this a special opportunity for us? So let’s take stock. We have a theater in renovation. We have talented actors, musicians, writers, and engaged and supportive audiences from the Belt Valley to the Highwood Mountains, from the Little Belt Mountains to Great Falls. Let me argue that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances, a perfect storm if you will, to vitalize the performing arts not just in Belt, but in our region. Not in competition with our other school programs or civic projects, for BVSP will be a renaissance working in concert with other local programs.

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Therefore, please take a look at Shakespeare’s Globe in “The Comedies with Joely Richardson,” one episode of PBS’s six-part “Shakespeare Uncovered” series. It’s a fantastic program. Watch it on your television, computer or ipad. Here’s the link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/shakespeare-uncovered/video/the-comedies-with-joely-richardson/

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If you can’t watch it all, watch the last 12 minutes. Go to the 41-minute mark of the video to see Joely wander around in the empty Globe’s magical, celestial space. Make no mistake, sans the size, snow, and tradition, that magic can be us. Jeff Ross