Theatre Breakthrough

Bringing America's Schools to the Stage

Theatre Breakthrough provides a unique opportunity for school age children to witness a live performance at a professional theatre.

Aquila feels it is essential to empower these students with an appreciation of the necessity of theatre in American culture. The students see productions of classical plays and participate in talk-backs with members of the cast to expand their comprehension of the material, and also gain an experience in how to watch, appreciate and participate as an audience member at the theatre.

The only chance many areas get to see serious plays.
— The New York Times
Takes the classics off their pedestals and presents them as live action, flesh and blood adventures.
— Dramatics Magazine

Workshop America

People Sharing in the Art of Aquila Theatre

Aquila offers participatory workshops where people of all ages and backgrounds are invited to join us in an exploration of our creative process. These workshops are held all over the United States in theatres, bookstores, libraries, museums, schools, colleges and drama schools.  The workshops explore:

  • Sessions with Masks

  • Physical Theatre

  • Text & Performance

  • Greek Drama

  • Shakespeare

  • Directing & Design

  • Acting

  • Speech

  • Beginning Theatre

The exposure to performances and workshops such as these elevates our student’s interest in the arts. It also provides lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom.
— Sylvester Perez, Ed. D, Superintendent of Schools, San Marcos CISD

Shakespeare Leaders & Greek Drama Programming at Frederick Douglass Academy

Shakespeare Leaders is a bold and innovative program, funded in part by the Charles Hayden Foundation, through which students develop style and technique by learning and performing Shakespeare. The program sets a high bar for excellence and teaches students ensemble, collaboration, responsibility, professional conduct, self-worth and culminates in a full performance of a Shakespearean play in the local community and a New York City theatre.

In the Fall of 2010, with the generous support of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, students from Frederick Douglass Academy brought a profession production of Homer's Iliad: Book One, translated by Stanley Lombardo to the Onassis Cultural Center.

For 2008-2009, Aquila was able to expand programming to include Greek drama with the generous support of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. Students produced The Antigone Project, a compilation of scene's from Paul Woodruff's translation of Sophocles' Antigone. In conjunction with the performance, students also visited Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens exhibit at the Onassis Cultural Center in Manhattan.

Shakespeare Leaders is supported by The Charles Hayden Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Axe-Houghton Foundation.

Program History

  • 2018 The Seven

  • 2017 Much Ado About Nothing

  • 2016 Romeo and Juliet

  • 2015 The Taming of the Shrew

  • 2014 The Tempest

  • 2013 Twelfth Night

  • 2012 A Midsummer Night's Dream

  • 2011 Julius Caesar

  • 2010 The Iliad: Book One

  • 2010 Much Ado About Nothing

  • 2009 The Comedy of Errors

  • 2008 Antigone Project

  • 2008 Romeo & Juliet

  • 2007 A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s words, art and spirit came to life. Resounding through the crowded auditorium, packed with parents, relatives, teachers and friends who had come to witness history in the making in Harlem.
— The New York Amsterdam News
In order for students to be successful in college, we must build upon the tradition of excellence and must expose our children to the classics, including Shakespeare. The Aquila Theatre and the Charles Hayden Foundation joined forces with FDA to produce an amazing production of Romeo & Juliet. Our students can achieve great things when supported.
— Dr. Gregory Hodge, Principal, Frederick Douglass Academy
Part of our need to watch theatre grows from our need to care about other people.
— Paul Woodruff, The Necessity of Theatre