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           education programs built for innovation, collaboration, and community.



“We are incredibly humbled by the outpour of interest in our educational programming. In three years, we have now expanded and grown to allow students of all walks of theatrical experience to join the Scranton Shakes Youth Ensemble family.

In 2024, we will also be adding two experiential pilot programs for student instrumentalists, designers, and technicians. Based on high demand we will also, for the first time, be offering a middle school exploratory drama program. We are very excited to be launching an updated iteration of our high school Youth Ensemble acting program, which will now focus on technique for a dedicated two week practice with all students admitted.


Now, students who cannot commit to the full production experience will be able to study their craft, showcase their talents, and join our community in a dedicated space. Those who are interested in expanding their knowledge through a full Shakespeare and/or musical theatre production can still do so, in an audition-only capacity.”

-Lizzie Newcomb Gumula

Director of Education



Due to popular demand, we are so excited to be launching an introductory experience to the Youth Ensemble program for middle school students ages 11-13!


Audition for our new student orchestra program, an immersion program for intermediate high school musicians into the world of professional theatrical orchestrations.


Our high school acting programs are no longer taking applications. Please keep up to date on our website and social media for more ways to get involved!

The Player's Piece is a collaborated showcase of musical group numbers, solos, instrumental performances, scenes, and monologues curated by students, directed by students, and performed by students. Now in its third year, students are encouraged and mentored through selecting content that will both push and energize them, working alongside our teaching artists to inspire confidence and create work to add to their portfolio.

Prospero the wizard calls forth a tempest to shipwreck a passing ship, setting forth waves of book magic and spirits, murderous revenge plots, familial trauma, and the dreams we all seek to come true. Dive into one of William Shakespeare’s most fascinating comedies, the journey of a bookish mother trapped on an island left to settle both her betrayal and forgiveness.

Explore the magic and dangers of the woods and woulds through musical theatre giant Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece Into the Woods. Through a sensational, moving, and epic score, join the elaborate cast of reimagined Brothers Grimm fairytale characters as their stories intertwine and wishes come true, but not for free. 

The Player's Piece
The Tempest
by William Shakespeare
Into the Woods
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim,
Book by James Lapine
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Applications for our high school programs are now closed.

  • Enrolled participants will be completely immersed in the professional theatre scene from auditions all the way through to showcase performance.

  • They'll begin to build first-hand knowledge of theatre etiquette and will gain the valuable experience of putting on a show in collaboration with industry professional theatre-makers.

  • Participants will also have the opportunity to access masterclasses with our versatile, international company of professional main-stage performers.

  • Students will collaborate with peers and teaching artists to produce "The Player’s Piece", an evening cabaret of selected songs, dances, monologues, and scenes that are curated, directed, and acted by students in the Youth Ensemble meant to promote students’ repertoires of performance and push their creative boundaries.

  • They will also have the opportunity to grow an industry based network of their own.

  • This year, we are excited to offer more opportunities for students interested in serving as production liaisons and assistants in design areas, pit orchestra, directing, and more.

Testimonials from our 2023 Youth Ensemble:

“It was easy to make friends who had similar interests, exposed me to a wide range of people from different walks of life, and helped me establish bonds with people I wouldn't have met otherwise."


“I have performed in a few different theater companies and ensembles over the years, and the Scranton Shakes Youth Ensemble has, by far, been the most supportive and accepting environment I have experienced. Never have I gone to a theater company and made so many friends so quickly. The people I met were so friendly and so welcoming and I will never forget how quickly I clicked with each person I met there."


“I really enjoyed working with my peers to make something of our own for The Player's Piece."


“I looked forward to every day at Shakes. Everyone, cast members and teaching artists alike, were so welcoming and warm. Truly an irreplaceable experience.”

Colored Theatre Lights


Summer 2021 saw the launch of our Youth Ensemble, a sister company to our Main Stage theatre company, of 14-18 year olds artists. In 2021, we performed the magical Peter and the Starcatcher. In 2022, we nearly doubled in size and presented Heathers: Teen Edition, as well as our first student-produced cabaret, The Player’s Piece. 2023 saw the implementation of two full-length productions, and the Youth Ensemble’s first Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night, alongside The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. We have housed over 50 students from over a dozen NEPA school districts - and counting!


In Summer 2024, the Youth Ensemble is expanding to offer a number of programs for students of all interest levels, including middle school-aged students, high school designers and technicians, and high school instrumentalists.

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  • I'm a writer from outside the US, do I need to travel to Scranton in 2021 if I win?"
    No. If your play is picked as the 2021 Scratch Night winner, we will produce your play without needing your presence in the US. If you'd like to come visit us at the festival to see your show in action, however, you're more than welcome to!
  • I'm represented as a writer, can I apply?"
    Yes. As long as you are able to give us the sole permission to use your script for Scratch Night and the performances at Scranton Shakes, should it be picked, there is no problem for you to apply.
  • My script is not about theme of "Ghosts", can I still apply?"
    We'd prefer that our scripts have at least an underlying theme of ghosts, though it's important to point out is doesn't have to be the classic person under a white sheet!!
  • Why is there a fee to apply for Scranton Scratch Night?
    We charge a minimal fee of $5 to help pay for our wonderful script readers and ensure that we have the time and resources to give you feedback on your submission.
  • Will I be able to perform in Scranton Shakes’ other shows?
    There may be potential opportunities for students to be considered for roles in Scranton Shakes’ mainstage productions. Please indicate your interest in your application. This additional opportunity is not included in the Youth Ensemble programming and is completely optional/separate. Students will be cast at the discretion of the director for that show just like any other professional production.
  • Can you explain this new Youth Ensemble set-up?
    At Scranton Shakes, our Youth Ensemble students are a single, collaborative entity. Our previous model included preparation for multiple elements at once - our cabaret, masterclasses, rehearsals, etc. All students are a valuable asset to the Youth Ensemble, no matter what their role, a pillar of our mission that we instill in our students and they embrace wholeheartedly. This new breakdown of scheduling the programs is an invitation to students to focus on one element at a time, strengthening their skillset, and is feedback we’ve been asked to implement from our previous program participants. The Youth Ensemble at large is the perfect space for students who have never done theater before and are looking to learn the basics; for students who don’t have the time to commit to a full production; for students who are unsure if they are interested in performance or tech; for students who want to better their skills before jumping into the intense rehearsal process; for students who are used to performing in shows and need a reset to focus on the foundation of their artistry. We hope that students who are not cast in the full production take full advantage of the other aspects of the Youth Ensemble program as the opportunity to grow into the performer they are meant to be.
  • What if I can’t afford the tuition fee?
    Accessible theatre is one of the founding purposes of Scranton Shakespeare Festival. If you are in need of a scholarship to cover the cost of this program, please note in your application that you are interested in being considered. Only a limited amount of scholarships are available. At this time, we regret that we are only able to provide scholarships for our high school programming.
  • I'm unfamiliar with Shakespeare and don't think I would like it. Why should I perform it?
    Hear what our students have to say about performing Shakespeare!
  • What is the time commitment of this program?
    Please visit each individual program page for specific time commitments. The basic schedule of Youth Ensemble middle school and high school acting programs is M-F 10am-5pm. Schedules are subject to change. Orchestra and Designer programs' schedules are subject to change based on the availability of the designers, students, and the production schedule.
  • Who is eligible to apply for the Scranton Shakes Youth Ensemble?
    Please see individual program breakdowns above for specific age requirements to participate in the Youth Ensemble's programs.
  • Do I need experience in theatre to participate?
    High School students who are passionate about a foundational program are encouraged to apply for our Youth Ensemble program. Students willing to commit to a full-length pre-professional production process who are looking to expand their practice more are encouraged to also audition for one or both of our productions. Middle School students do not need to have prior theatrical experience. Youth Orchestra instrumentalists should be proficient in their instrument enough to perform an entire musical theatre score. Youth Designers need not have prior experience to participate.
  • Is Panto suitable for the whole family?
    Yes! There are jokes aplenty for every member of the family.
  • I want to nominate one of my students to apply. Can I do that?
    We encourage all teachers and administrators to fill out our student nomination form linked above, which will prompt students to receive a message that they have been nominated by a faculty/staff member from their school.
  • Can I request an informational session for my students and I to learn more?
    Yes! Please fill out our informational session request form linked above and we will be happy to set up either a Zoom or in person meeting to talk more about our program with your students.
  • How can my school district sponsor my student(s) tuition?
    Of course! Thank you for your donation. Please coordinate with Lizzie Gumula at
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