Portland teens do Shakespeare and help less fortunate
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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After two summers of performing Shakespeare for fun, a troupe of young actors expanded their Shakespearian enterprise this year to include fund-raising for two shelters for victims of domestic violence as well as impromptu Hurricane Katrina relief.
The 11-member troupe, ages 11 to 19, performed William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" at two outdoor locations over four days. The Summer Shakesperians include Lily and Aleksandor Nagy-Deak and Shoshana Burda, all members of Congregation Neveh Shalom, and Jonah and Simon Underwood, members of Havurah Shalom.
"A great group of tweens and teens have worked very hard this summer and are doing a wonderful job with the ol' Bard's work," said Barbara Nagy, mother of 15-year-old director Lily Nagy-Deak. "The director and half the cast are from the Jewish community and are performing?free for the community and accepting donations to benefit the Clackamas Women's Shelter and Raphael House. These folks are inspirational—especially as we come into the pre-High Holiday mindset of tzedakah."
The troupe raised about $70 for Clackamas Women's Service and about $140 for Raphael House. In addition, at their last performance they set out a can for Hurricane Katrina relief and raised about $50.
"I didn't think people would be that generous," said Lily Nagy-Deak. "It lets me know that they enjoyed the performance and they are willing to support these organizations that help people."
Nagy-Deak said the troupe started three summers ago when several home-school students were looking for a fun summer project. Nagy-Deak co-directed the first two summer productions—one full production and one series of excerpts from "Mid-Summer Night's Dream." This year when the director and several cast members were out of town for the summer, Nagy-Deak took on the role of director and recruited several friends from public and private schools to join the troupe.
She said she selected "Twelfth Night" for this year's production because it had a small cast and was shorter than many of Shakespeare's comedies.
"It's hard enough to learn one Shakesperean character—it can be daunting to be asked to learn more," she said. "Besides, I thought it ("Twelfth Night") was really funny."
Adding fund-raising to the project came from a desire among the cast to "do somthing good for other people," she said.
"People get to see a Shakespearean play and the shelters get the money," said Nagy-Deak.