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           high school theatre ensemble specifically for young theatre artists.


Announcing our 2023 Youth Ensemble Productions...

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A note from the Director of Education: “The Youth Ensemble’s rapid growth is a testimony to the talented and bright students we work with. With that in mind, this year we are pushing our students with the opportunity to explore either one or two sections of educational theatre. Starting off, the Youth Ensemble will perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a forage into the joyfulness of music, the hilarity of mistaken identity, and the authentic discovery of love. Students do not need to have prior experience or knowledge of Shakespeare to participate in this beloved play filled with a zany company of characters. The past two years, the Youth Ensemble has explored topics in the performing arts world such as outdoor theatre and ensemble work in Peter and the Starcatcher and intimacy coordination in Heathers: Teen Edition. This year, we are excited to present The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, based on the worldwide sensation series by Rick Riordan, which will explore puppetry, fight choreography, page to stage adaptation, and the dramaturgy of classical mythology. We are excited for both new and old faces to join our troupe!” -Lizzie Newcomb Gumula


Young people have always been important to our mission and our productions. 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. This past summer, we nearly doubled in size and presented Heathers: Teen Edition. Over the past two years, we have housed over 30 students from over a dozen local NEPA high schools – and growing!


This year, the Youth Ensemble is excited to announce two sessions for students, a full Shakespeare production and a full musical production. Both sessions will perform in a combined Player’s Piece cabaret and be visited by master class artists. Students can participate in one or both sessions.

Applications and show information for the 2023 Youth Ensemble will be available in December.

  • Enrolled participants will be completely immersed in the professional theatre scene from auditions all the way through to 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 areas of directing, design, and management.

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Testimonials from our 2022 Youth Ensemble:

“I really loved all of the masterclasses, especially because we learned from such a wide range of teaching artists. I felt so immersed in every single aspect of theatre. I really learned so much about so many parts that make up theatre! The masterclasses really helped me feel confident in my abilities, and I feel like I have grown so much as an artist just from those different masterclasses we took.”


“The Player's Piece gave me a unique opportunity to bring an idea to life. I found it extremely rewarding to collaborate with my peers outside of the creative limits of Heathers. It made me really happy to see others have enthusiasm for something I was equally as passionate about doing.”


“The combination of a director who said exactly what was expected of the cast along with a group of like-minded people made it easy to build friendships and connections.”


“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

Session Two, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, is now at capacity. Applications may still be submitted for this session, but will be placed on a waitlist until space becomes available.

Program Dates, Tuition Fees & Further Info

Program Dates

Shakespeare session (Twelfth Night)

  • June 12th, 2023 - July 9th, 2023 + July 16th & 20th (Working Monday through Friday 10am-5pm. Final week of program will do technical rehearsals in evenings, up until 10pm)

  • Program Length: 24 days

  • Show Dates: July 7th at 7:30pm, 8th at 7:30pm, 9th at 2:30pm and July 20th at 7:30pm

  • Player’s Piece: July 16th, 2023


Musical Session (The Lightning Thief)

  • July 3rd, 2023 - July 29th, 2023 (Working Monday through Friday 10am-5pm. Final week of program will do technical rehearsals in evenings, up until 10pm)

  • Program length: 21 days

  • Show Dates: July 27th at 7:30pm, 28th at 7:30pm, and 29th at 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Player’s Piece: July 16th, 2023

Please Note: There is one week of overlap for sessions. Students participating in both programs will work in the morning/afternoon on The Lightning Thief and at night for tech for Twelfth Night.

Who Can Apply?

Students who will be 14 as of June 1st, 2022 up to graduates of the class of 2023 are eligible to apply for this program.

Tuition Fees

  • Single session: $500 per student.

  • Both sessions: $900 per student. (Save $100!)

Tuition fees are only payable after a student has auditioned and been offered a place on the program. 

Application Process

We have designed our applications process to match how things are undertaken in the industry, as closely as possible.

  • Students will submit an application for consideration.

  • All applications will be reviewed and assessed for suitability on the program.

  • Shortlisted students will receive an invitation to audition and meet with the program leaders. 

  • Successful students will be contacted and asked to enrol by Mid March, 2023.

  • Audition materials and information will be posted in early March 2023. We hope to conduct interviews and auditions in-person in Scranton.

  • Applicants accepted into the program will be asked to enroll after the audition process has concluded. 

The Art White Scholarship Fund

  • Students in financial need are welcome and encouraged to apply for the Art White Scholarship Fund, which helps cover Youth Ensemble tuition costs. The Art White Scholarship Fund is a need-based scholarship, not a merit scholarship. Consideration will be given to students based on need when filling out their application.

  • Art White was an avid actor, singer, production committee member, and patron of the arts who lived in Glenburn with his family. A frequent performer of the community acting troupe the Abington Players, he was seen on the stage in several productions including The King & I, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Man Who Came to Dinner, See How They Run, and Never Too Late. The Players, active mainly in the 1960s-1970s, performed at the Waverly Community House. Art, a respected member of the community, enjoyed working with children in shows and would have loved the vibrancy the Scranton Shakespeare Festival brings to NEPA each summer. He especially would have loved the Youth Ensemble programming and its mission of bringing students together to create theatrical art.


See our frequently asked questions section below. If your specific enquiry is not addressed, you can contact:

  • 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.
  • 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!!
  • 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.
  • 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!
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