Walden Theatre, with generous support from the Yum! Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of the Yum! Family Series Cornerstone Classics series of plays at Walden Theatre, beginning with William Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar.

The Yum! Brands Foundation has pledged $17,000 in annual support for this valuable component of Walden Theatre’s educational mission. The gift will support just over 35% of total production costs and provide a subsidy for about 300 students from low-income public schools to participate.

“Yum! Brands has shown how deeply they care,” said Charlie Sexton, Walden Theatre’s Artistic Director, “not only for the arts but for arts education as well. This grant will enable us to continue providing the highest quality arts education experiences the region has to offer.”

Walden Theatre’s Cornerstone Classics Series selection is drawn from the “cornerstones” of Western literature and theatre. Titles such as To Kill a MockingbirdThe Crucible, and this year’s Julius Caesar are pulled directly from schools’ core reading lists and brought to life on stage by Walden Theatre’s young actors. The Cornerstone Classic is Walden Theatre’s best-attended production of the season, and it is an important, annual educational experience not just for the show’s young actors, but also for the more than 1,500 area school children who will attend student matinée performances at the Brown Theatre. The total audience reached by this production will be an estimated 2,500+ adults and teens in the Greater Louisville community.

“It is such a unique and captivating experience for the student audience to watch their peers perform such challenging material on stage,” said Alison Huff, Managing Director at Walden Theatre. “I’m always amazed at how you can hear a pin drop in a theater full of 1,500 middle and high school students! We are thrilled that the Yum! Brands Foundation is now helping us make classic literature come alive for young people in our community.”

The Yum! Family Series is an arts education program designed to give students a wide range of arts-rich educational experiences including in-classroom workshops, student matinées and playwriting residencies. Funding from the Yum! Foundation ensures that children throughout our community have the opportunity to learn about and experience theatre arts, helping students develop imagination, observation skills, collaborative skills, deeper and more complex thinking skills, abstract thought and self-esteem.  Each year, thousands of elementary, middle and high school students will experience the thrill of live theatre with the generous funding from Yum! Brands Foundation.

Julius Caesar is directed by Walden Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director Alec Volz and runs January 19-28 on the Nancy Niles Sexton Stage at Walden Theatre, plus an additional special student matinée performance for area school children at the historic Brown Theatre on January 26. In this contemporary-dress version of the play, a cabal of politicians is convinced that Caesar’s power has corrupted her rule. She refuses the crown – not once but three times – but the politicians suspect a deeper game. Fueled by individual political ambitions, and working against this background of mistrust, Caesar’s once-trusted advisors and companions plot a shocking act of betrayal.