In November, 2013, the United States of America sent a young troupe of actors from Odyssey Institute to the United Kingdom to perform on a London Stage. After going through the application process, this group of young actors and Shakespeare enthusiasts and their directors became the very first school from the United States ever to be invited to perform in the largest dramatic festival in the world. They were also the only school out of one thousand that year to perform Shakespeare’s controversial comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. What was the result? A standing ovation, brilliant review by a professional, London stage director, and an invitation to return November, 2014 to perform our unique, 1920’s rendition of Romeo & Juliet. This time, the festival coordinator put us on two stages in London. We were now not only the only school from the United States to perform in the festival, we were also the only school present invited to perform twice in two different professional venues. Once again, we received two glowing reviews by professional London stage directors and two standing ovations at The Abbey Theater in St. Albans, and The Albany Theater in Deptford.
In 2015, we were invited to perform Macbeth in a theater in Inverness, Scotland. We had expected to receive a sponsorship to help our scholars make their way to perform from a private donor, but that sponsorship did not come to fruition. The cast worked incredibly hard, so the news about the sponsorship was quite devastating, but it did not in any way affect their strong commitment to their craft. As a result of their dedication, the Festival directors invited us to send a film of our performance so that we could still participate remotely. This time, we received a glowing written review complimenting our cast on strong performances and ensemble chemistry.
In 2016, we were invited again, and worked hard to fundraise our way to London to perform our modern, hipster version of Much Ado About Nothing. Although we will not be returning again until 2018 with William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, we have formed a new group under the direction of Karyn Wiens, Will Power, Jr., for our junior high scholars. This group will be performing for the first time in the festival for 2017 with Twelfth Night.