Workshops for All Ages

At the American Shakespeare Center, we offer a variety of workshops for participants of all ages, interests, and experience levels. We focus on bringing Shakespeare's plays to life using the tools of his stagecraft and the ASC’s theatrical practice. We use deep, narrow analysis to help participants find clues for staging and understanding the plays. Applicable across the canon and into other disciplines, this "DNA of the play" approach encourages participants to feel confident in their ability to Read the Stage. Whether your group is interested in Shakespeare's leaders, Shakespeare's words, or Shakespeare's stagecraft, ASC workshops can help you turn the lights on in invigorating and illuminating ways.

All Workshops conducted by ASC Actors, ASC Education Staff, or ASC Education Artists.

The “Curing the ShakesFear” Series is prerequisite for our “Playing the Stage” Series. Students should participate in 2-3 “Curing the ShakesFear” workshops before enjoying “Playing the Stage”.

Begin booking your visit today - fill out our Reservation Interest Form and Group Sales will contact you to lock in your reservation.  A 25% nonrefundable deposit is required to confirm your reservation, but a final headcount isn't due until 21 days before your visit!  If you have any questions about workshops or bringing your group to ASC, please contact Group Sales at or 540.885.5588 ext 24.

“Curing the ShakesFear” SERIES

SHAKESPEARE’S STAGE (Staging Conditions)
Step into Shakespeare’s world and explore his plays from a new perspective. You will see how the staging conditions that he wrote for and worked in reveal insights about the plays and playing. Topics covered include: audience contact, playing darkness and the supernatural, hiding on the early modern stage, and asides. Excellent for classes of all types, especially those new to the American Shakespeare Center’s performance practices.

Tear apart the monolith of Shakespeare’s text and unlock the choices available for character development in verse and prose. Shakespeare’s verbal patterns make the plays more energetic, more realistic, and more emotional, both on-stage and in the classroom. You will mine the text for these clues just like Shakespeare’s actors -- and like ours at the ASC. Excellent for Literature and Theatre students.

WORD PLAY (Rhetoric)
If we still use 98% of the words Shakespeare’s used, then why is he sometimes hard to understand? This workshop cracks the code by breaking down figures of speech and illuminating them as clues for character. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it -- and you might start using the techniques in your own communication. The in-depth critical analysis makes this workshop excellent for Literature and Theatre Students, particularly those preparing for standardized tests.

THE TEXT DIRECTS (Embedded Stage Directions)
The short rehearsal periods in Shakespeare’s theatre meant he had to give actors as much information as possible within the text itself. This workshop invigorates words and gives them life through clues for stage movement, emotional choices, and given circumstances. See how simple choices can change the scene and create a different story. The combination of textual analysis and performance is excellent for Literature and Theatre classes.

BEYOND THE 4th WALL (Audience Address)
What’s the difference between shared light and theatrical light design? Long speeches become active dialogues when an actor can talk to the audience, and in this workshop, you’ll experience an illuminating reality of Shakespeare’s stage and explore the techniques that ASC actors use to make choices about when and how to bring the audience into the play. The combination of textual analysis and performance is excellent for Literature and Theatre classes.

EVOLVING PLAYS (Textual Variants)
Half of Shakespeare’s plays exist in more than one early modern edition, and the rest have been edited, modified, and adapted for hundreds of years. This workshop empowers participants to take the text back from the editors of old and choose the best story for the present. Celebrate the opportunity to create a new performance using the words Shakespeare wrote. Excellent for Literature, Theatre, and History students.

Applying the principles used in the rehearsal rooms and performances spaces of the ASC (including embedded stage directions, pronoun choices, character address, and audience contact), participants will make artistic choices based on their new knowledge and direct the ASC actors in a scene from our repertory. Excellent for both English and Theatre classes; best when students have taken one or more of the following: Speaking Shakespeare, Beyond the 4th Wall, and The Text Directs.

If you are not able to attend one of our regularly scheduled Talk Back! sessions, you can book one just for your group. Five minutes after the end of the show, several actors return to the stage to take your questions. Learn from the actors the secrets of bringing Shakespeare from the page to the stage of the Blackfriars Playhouse. Excellent enrichment for all audiences.


"Tours are won away"

Led by American Shakespeare Center Education Artists, this is a lecture on Elizabethan and Theatre History, disguised as a walking tour. In an excellent introduction to the Blackfriars Playhouse and Elizabethan and American Shakespeare Center staging conditions, Education Artists will use excerpts from the plays to demonstrate ASC's style and the clues embedded in the text about architecture, doubling, costuming, and more. An excellent pre-show, post-show, anytime activity.

11 am Monday - Saturday, 2 pm Monday - Friday
If you require a different time, please contact us to schedule a special tour.
Size Limit: 20
Length: One hour
Cost: $5/person (group rates available)


Please phone (540) 885-5588 ext. 24 for rates and available dates to attend workshops at the Blackfriars Playhouse or arrange for us to come to your location.


In addition to our standard workshop offerings, we offer day and half-day Leadership Seminars. While exploring Shakespeare's language, you will also learn the invaluable skills of clear diction, focus, clarity of movement, and vocal power. Learn the skills necessary for leadership and communication in the workplace.

Half Day Workshops: 9 am - noon or 1 - 4 pm, maximum of 30 participants
Full Day Workshops: 9 am - 4 pm, with lunch break, maximum of 30 participants

Please contact the Group Sales Manager at or 540.885.5588x24. Cost varies according to size of your group.

Educators can attend one of our four year Teacher Seminars. Ranging from one-day to three-days long, these seminars use activities from ASC Study Guides and lectures with leading scholars in the field to explore Shakespeare's plays through classroom performance.


How many people can I bring?
Size limits vary depending on the workshop, but most workshops work best with 20 to 30 participants maximum.

Is there a discount for seeing a show and buying a workshop?
Yes, the price varies depending on the workshop, but combining a workshop with a show is the best value and the ideal way to make the most of your experience at the ASC.

How long are the workshops?
Length varies depending on the type of workshop, though all can be altered to fit within a class period, if necessary.

Can we do a tour and a workshop?
Yes, the total time for the program would be 2 1/2 hours.

Is there anywhere for students to eat lunch?
Staunton Downtown offers many options for participants, additionally, we can direct you to parks near the Playhouse or to nearby Gypsy Hill Park.

Is there bus parking in front of the theatre?
Yes, clearly marked bus parking on Market Street is one block down from the Playhouse.

What kind of space do you need if you come to our school to teach?
A classroom with the desks pushed to the side is fine. For larger groups, a gym, auditorium, or cafeteria is ideal.

Do we buy our show tickets from you?
Our Group Sales Manager can invoice you for all of your needs. Contact or 540.885.5588x24.