Reasons to Amplify Free Minds: We Open Up “A Whole New World”

(from left) Anitra Villearreal and Tari Jordan as Bassanio and Shylock.

Free Minds students reflect on the experience of studying Shakespeare

“If someone told me I could understand the words of Shakespeare within a week, I would have called them C-R-A-Z-Y! Not only did I learn to ‘unwrap’ the words of Shakespeare, I enjoyed the characters and history too.”-Donna Mercer

“Seeing the play performed was an absolute joy for me. The Merchant of Venice is the first live play that I have seen in my entire life… it opened up a whole new world for me to experience. Without Free Minds, I would have never taken such a task to heart.”-Angelique Martin

“I found it worth studying because some of the struggles between the characters in The Merchant of Venice are still a part of our society today.”-Juanita Andrade

“Studying this piece of literature has given me permission to elevate my level of thinking and perception on certain things in life. I have no fear or discrimination against things I thought I could not do.”-Tami Blackmon

“Seeing Shakespeare performed allowed me to take a real interest in each character. Instead of reading a book and at the end saying, ‘Oh, that was good!’ and then closing it and shelving it, I can actually put a face, a mood to these characters; I take them with me.”-Candy Gallegos

“The ‘triple threat’ of reading the play, watching the play [on film], and seeing it performed live was a revelation. I now understand The Merchant of Venice more than any other Shakespeare I have ever studied… LOVED IT!”-Tari Jordan

Amplify Austin is a city-wide day of online giving which will take place on from 7 pm March 4 to 7 pm March 5. Central Texas residents are invited to come together to raise $1 for the local non-profits that enrich our city–including Free Minds. To learn more about how you can support Free Minds through Amplify Austin, visit

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