November 14, 2018
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For Immediate Release PLEASE

A Bold New Outreach Program Between
Aquila Theatre & Frederick Douglass Academy In Harlem,
Culminates In A Gala Performance Of
May 13th At Frederick Douglass Academy

Aquila Theatre and Frederick Douglass Academy announce the gala performance of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors will take place on Wednesday, May 13th at 7pm at Frederick Douglass Academy, 2581 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (at West 149th St.)

Frederick Douglass Academy’s new production of William Shakespeare’s THE COMEDY OF ERRORS will be performed by 60 exceptional middle and high school students from Harlem and the Bronx. These at-risk students, at various learning levels from special education to advanced placement, have become an ensemble that is dedicated to speaking Shakespeare’s poetry with clarity and finesse. They have made a strong commitment to understand the integrity of the original text, and exercise a belief that the key to interpretation is contained within Shakespeare’s language when fully explored, understood and performed.

The gala is the capstone event of the Aquila Theatre’s Shakespeare Leaders program at Frederick Douglass Academy. Since October 2006, teaching artists from Aquila have been working intensively with FDA students for three days a week after school on reading, understanding, and performing Shakespeare through class visits, liaising with faculty, and generating a new enthusiasm for Shakespeare at FDA. This new program has been made possible by generous support from the Charles Hayden Foundation.

Frederick Douglass Academy is a public Middle-High School in Harlem, NY under the leadership of Gregory M. Hodge, PhD. Founded in 1991, the goal of Frederick Douglass Academy is to provide a rich, vigorous and challenging academic curriculum that will prepare students to enter the college of their choice. College preparation begins in 6th grade; New York State Regents classes start in 8th grade; with many students completing required course work by the end of the 11th grade. Students then take Advanced Placement Courses and, in some cases, introductory college courses at Hunter College. 80% of the accepted students must reside in the Harlem community and 20% come from outside of District Five. Emphasis is placed on one’s intellect and not on one’s appearance.  All students are expected to graduate from high school and attend college.

The production will include Shakespeare inspired performances from the Samba Band, Percussion Band, African Dancers and the Choir. A post-show reception will follow with the opportunity to mix and mingle with the students and cast.

Shakespeare Leaders is a bold and innovative program in Harlem, expanding in Fall 2009 to the Bronx, through which students develop their own dramatic style and technique by learning and performing Shakespeare. The program sets a high bar for excellence and teaches students how to work within an ensemble, collaborate with others, responsibility, professional conduct and self-worth. This annually culminates in a full performance of a Shakespearean play in both the local community and a New York City theatre.

Participation in Aquila’s Shakespeare Leaders program enables Frederick Douglass Academy to greatly expand their theatre course offerings and to involve as many students as possible in a theatrical endeavor. Additionally, it allows students to benefit from sharing in the experience of Aquila’s working theatre professionals.

Aquila Theatre’s mission is to bring the greatest theatrical works to the greatest number. Aquila provides access excellent theatre to those in areas with little or no professional theatre and to the under-served rural and inner city communities. The company also presents a regular season of plays in New York, at international festivals and tours around 70 American towns and cities each year.

“Aquila’s productions of Shakespeare are dramatically revealing, beautifully spoken and crystalline in effect.” - The New Yorker
“Powerful, ensemble productions.” - The New York Times

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS is one of Shakespeare’s most vibrant and sparkling comedies.  The shrewd and inventive plot relates an intricate and energetic story of two pairs of identical twins in the same household separated by a devastating shipwreck.  But as this delightful comedy unfolds, all is not what it seems.  Shakespeare’s remarkable staging propels a glorious, farcical romp set in the sumptuous surroundings of the ancient city of Ephesus. Brilliant comedy abounds in this witty tale of mistaken identity, assumed personas, hilarious machinations and whimsical family relationships.  Shakespeare expertly weaves all these boisterously entertaining strands together allowing his audience to stay one jump ahead of his vivacious characters and laugh heartily at the outrageously funny outcomes.

For tickets and reservations, please contact Aquila Theatre at (212) 992-9642 or email

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