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Life & Work with Rebekah Czarnecki

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebekah Czarnecki.

Rebekah has been running theatre and educational Shakespeare programs for more than 20 years. She is owner of Shakespeare Kids (SK) and has a team of dedicated professional actors and directors, current in the business, that assist her in these programs and all share a passion for education. When Covid hit, SK had 13 groups of young actors preparing for production.

Friday, March 13, as schools were closing, that morning she booked a theatre and performed 4 Shakespeare productions for parents only with set, lights and sound as the students were originally scheduled to perform just ten days later. The other nine productions transitioned to virtual and all performed in May and June. Since then, we have produced ten other productions virtually, performing live to friends and family worldwide. Sometimes with over 200 in attendance. All performances are free of charge and webinar format. We are currently rehearsing Macbeth and Twelfth Night along with over 20 other weekly theatre enrichment programs working with students all across the US and internationally. Eager to work with our students in person once again. We did manage to perform Much Ado About Nothing in Mammoth in July 2020 running a two weeks in-person camp with strict Covid measures and guidelines in place.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Certainly, Covid has thrown a wrench in things. I’ve learned a ton and feel like I now have a self-taught degree in virtual performance and production. Prior to Covid, some of the greatest challenges is filling classes and convincing parents that Shakespeare is fun, accessible and can be for everyone. Most parents assume it would be too hard or stressful and gravitate towards traditional fairytale or musical theatre. When families do join and give it a try, they don’t leave. We have returning families of 15 or more years. Starting at age 4 or 5, all siblings joining eventually and continuing as young adults in our YASI (Young Adult Shakespeare Intensive) programs or internships. 95% of our students do not become actors. They become doctors, librarians, mechanical engineers, musicians*, zoo keepers, YouTube influencers*, lawyers, etc. The other great challenge is scheduling. Since we pride ourselves in only hiring teaching artists that are CURRENT in the business… often we have to juggle their audition schedules and bookings. However, this choice is something we still stand by. The educators are happy and healthy and not jaded failed actors. They themselves are constantly learning and evolving in their art and the industry. Not to mention, the families love seeing their teacher on TV or on stage at a Shakespeare festival. So while it is a challenge, it’s worth the work. *Billie Eilish did five years with us. *Collins Key and Devan did over 12 years with us.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a classically trained actor that started my career in NYC. Toured a bunch then settled in LA where I then joined all the performing unions (AEA, SAG, AFTRA) and met some wonderful colleagues at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum and started teaching and directing. My career then found a happy balance of teaching, directing and acting and no longer needed to wait tables. This led to starting my business. Shakespeare Kids. I also bought a home and started a family where I now have four children ages 6-12, one of which is special needs with a rare genetic disorder. There are less than 100 cases worldwide. So as I found a career balance with acting and teaching/directing in my 20s. I’ve now found a life balance of running a business and a family. I don’t teach as much myself and only find time to do one show or film a year on average. It’s balance. I manage and facilitate a company from my years of experience “in the field”. I am quite passionate about my work. I’m a bit of a workaholic. My work is running a Shakespeare Kids company. It’s fun! I’m so lucky. It definitely has its ups and downs. Most of the downs are a result of caring too much and being so invested and probably being a bit of a perfectionist. Most of my friends and colleagues call me superwoman… or super mom. I try very hard to set work aside and snuggle my kids whenever possible. And shut my phone off.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
I’d like to say I’ve learned this. LOL. But to not sweat the small stuff. To be patient as a mom. To not try to do it all. To delegate. Not be a perfectionist. My therapist once told me to remember to believe in things being “good enough”. I still struggle with this. Because I believe it should always be the best it can be. Good enough seems a little lazy. Not sure I’ll ever get there. I’m working on it.

Pricing:

  • 45-1 hr classes for 10 weeks $155
  • 75-90 min classes for 10 weeks $195
  • Performance programs $395
  • Combat programs $170

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Jessica Cushman, Jamie Rathje

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