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For the love of Kevin: Shakespeare & Company celebrates Education Director Coleman at annual gala

[Coleman’s] wit and way of putting people at ease are matched only by his deep knowledge and experience as an effective educator,” Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Allyn Burrows wrote about Director of Education Kevin Coleman.

Lenox — Shakespeare & Company celebrated the work of Director of Education Kevin Coleman at the organization’s annual gala on June 29.

The organization was founded in 1978 by Tina Packer and was located at The Mount up until 2000. In April 2000, the organization purchased its current location on 70 Kemble Street.

According to its website, the organization performs for more than 40,000 patrons annually.

As a founding member, Coleman has been with the organization as it has expanded over the years. Artistic Director Allyn Burrows wrote in the program for the gala that he first met Coleman in 1988 as he was casting for a northeast regional tour. “[Coleman’s] wit and way of putting people at ease are matched only by his deep knowledge and experience as an effective educator,” Burrows wrote. “The programs he and his team have put together over the years are unique in the care they take to support young people through Shakespeare and self-expression.”

“The humility and openness to learning are everything you need to know about [Coleman],” Bev Hyman, chair of the organization and a member of the Board of Trustees, wrote in the event program. “Watching Kevin, with all his awards, degrees, decades of experience, and successes, respond humbly and earnestly to a protest or an inquiry from a nine-year-old in our Riotous Youth program or a 15-year-old in our Shakespeare in the Courts program, is an honor. At the heart of our education program is the belief that embracing the art of Shakespeare has the power to heal the student, help her thrive, and elevate her to a new place in herself. There is respect for the student because the student is vulnerable, and needs the safety only the teacher can create so the student can learn. It seems that a long time ago, Kevin made the decision that more than anything else, devoting his life to teaching, especially teaching young people at risk, is the highest calling.”

“It has been my greatest pride to have found a home and made a most dear family in this community,” Coleman wrote in the event program. “Every aspect of my life here has been a blessing or a challenge, has endured failure and even survived success, but our collective ambition still burns bright, still remains constant in the desire to share what we know of performing, teaching, directing, and training others in Shakespeare’s works. The humanity we’ve come to discover in his works, the humanizing power and the beauty his work inspire—and have inspired in so many of us here tonight—we do well to share with humility and grace.”

Emmy-nominated actor Finn Wittrock, known for his work in “American Crime Story” and “American Horror Story,” playing “Hamlet” in a celebratory gala performance. Wittrock, a native of Berkshire County, has also worked with Coleman. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Shakespeare & Company Founder Tina Packer also made an appearance at the gala performance. Packer declared that Shakespeare & Company would not exist without Coleman. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Attendees at the Tina Packer Playhouse raise a toast to Coleman at the gala performance. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

During the gala, Coleman was humble but proud that Shakespeare & Company has lasted for over 46 years. “I think Shakespeare & Company has lasted this long because the vision that started this organization is compelling, and it will inspire people forever,” Coleman told The Berkshire Edge. “It’s compelling because the organization is so humane and inclusive. Shakespeare & Company honors the human spirit, and it’s passionate.”

Some of the many attendees of Shakespeare & Company’s gala on June 29. Photos by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Coleman added that he is appreciative of the organization’s supporters, including those who attended the June 29 event. “We have the best board, we have the best volunteers, and we have the best staff,” Coleman said. “I am so lucky to get to work with such wonderful people seven days a week. I would like more people to come and be part of Shakespeare & Company. There is room for everyone.”

For more information about Shakespeare & Company, visit its website.


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