Since the YSP mission is to help “young people find a voice through understanding and performing classical theater,” the program’s core is built upon the complete understanding of the material that young actors memorize and perform. This understanding occurs through YSP’s unique instructional materials and methods:
- Audio Materials
- Commenting (& Multiple Casts)
- Focused Workshops
- Intern and Apprentice Directors
To make the full-length and unaltered plays of Shakespeare and G.B. Shaw comprehensible and appealing to children of every age, YSP relies on original audio materials created by founder and director, Richard DiPrima.
For the 16 Shakespeare plays and for the Shakespeare workshops, these materials both explain every line of these challenging texts and also give some basic direction to the actors. This system gives equal access to readers and non-readers alike (and thereby also allows YSP to serve pre-readers and those with different learning styles in memorizing their lines).
Because YSP knows its actors will derive full educational benefits and perform well only if they thoroughly understand and appreciate Shakespeare’s language, YSP provides explanation and lines-only audio for each role in every production. For Shaw plays, YSP provides lines-only CDs as well as explanatory lectures of the plays developed especially for the YSP actors.
These audio materials form the program’s core. At the beginning of a production, actors receive a set of CDs or tapes for their specific roles. Explanations might range from 17 hours for the title-role of Hamlet to 3 hours for Horatio to 15 minutes for a 2-line captain’s part. With these materials and the assistance of staff and fellow actors, a 7-year-old or a teenager, regardless of experience level or reading ability, can assume a complex role with complete understanding, learning the meaning of unusual words, puns & jokes, the character’s context, motivations and relationships, historical references, and above all, the significance of every spoken line while memorizing.
Actors listen to these materials at home multiple times during the rehearsal period for a production, and they become experts on their characters.