At the American Shakespeare Center, we offer a variety of workshops for participants of all ages and interests.
All of our workshops focus on bringing Shakespeare's plays to life using the tools of his stagecraft and the ASC style. 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" 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 Masters Minds.
"That's a Certain Text": Shakespeare's Language
Using scenes from Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ plays, participants will learn skills in paraphrase, scansion, and work with rhetoric to consider the clues the text provides regarding character and staging. The students will apply these lessons in a final presentation.
"If This Were Played upon a Stage Now": Embedded Stage Directions
Shakespeare includes clues for action in the text of his plays, often in the absence of explicit stage directions. Employing textual clues, participants will work with embedded stage directions, asides, and audience contact on the Blackfriars stage to attempt to discover the best way to stage them.
“But soft! but soft! aside”: Audience Contact
This workshop examines the use of audience contact in Shakespeare's plays and invites participants to try on various kinds of asides while examining the effects of playing space and early modern staging conventions on the perceived character.
"Sweet Smoke of Rhetoric": Rhetoric
Shakespeare arranged his words in a way that both affected the ear of the audience and also gave instructions to his actors. In this workshop, participants will explore Shakespeare's use of rhetoric through five basic forms (repetition, omission, addition, direction, and substitution) in order to discover the character and delivery clues provided by the construction of the language itself.
"Speak, Count, 'Tis Your Cue": Cue Scripts
Using anomalies in Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ plays, participants investigate the character, movement, and other clues contained in cue scripts. View selections of this workshop as presented at the 2012 Shakespeare Theatre Association conference in Orlando.
“O Excellent Motion”: Acting Choices
Working with ASC actors, participants will explore and learn how to find clues for performance in Shakespeare’s plays. Participants will engage in an exploration of various concerns raised by one or more of the plays in the current season - whether staging questions, thematic issues, character choices, or another conundrum - and demonstrate, through contrasted readings of scenes, the means by which actors and artists arrive at a decision for a particular production.
"Where Lies Your Text?": Textual Variants
Textual variations in different early publications of Shakespeare's plays create performance possibilities that are obscured by modern editions of the texts. This workshop considers how these different editions might have been played on Shakespeare's stage, how they can be used in modern productions, and what these differences teach audiences about Shakespeare's stagecraft.
"We Shall Not Scape a Brawl": Stage Combat
Students consider the text surrounding the fights in Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ plays, by observing our trained actor combatants perfrom choreographed fights and hearing, from fight captians, or choreographers, the motivation behind each choice. Participants then practice stage combat techniques, and apply the skills in a safe environment.
View examples of our stage combat workshops on Youtube: swordfighting positions; what Mercutio's final words tell you about his injuries; Juliet's Death.
Daggers of the Mind: Stage Combat
In this ASC workshop, participants apply the movement of combat, sans weapons, in scenes from Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Participants will practice the offensive and defensive moves of broadsword fighting, and conclude by exploring scenes of combat, maiming, and death in the plays of the season.
"Within This Wooden O": Shakespeare's Staging Conditions
This overview workshop considers scenes from 7 curriculum plays in the context of the early modern stage and demonstrates Shakespeare’s expertise in writing for his playhouses' staging conditions. Topics covered include: audience contact, doubling, playing darkness and the supernatural, hiding on the early modern stage, and asides.
"Concord of Sweet Sounds": Music and Dance
By looking at the placement and arrangement of songs and dances in one of Shakespeare's plays, participants engage with the scenarios and situations from which the expression results and explore applying appropriate tunes and theatrical choices to their interpretations.
"Blood Hath Been Shed Ere Now": Blood on the Early Modern Stage
Many of Shakespeare's plays include scenes of violence, in which characters are wounded in combat or display their injuries on stage. This workshop encourage participants to explore how can blood be represented on the stage in a way that is realistic, safe, and easy to clean up. Participants will examine the blood requirements of several scenes from Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth and then put some crimson recipes into action.
"And Foot It, Girls": Dance
Shakespeare’s use of dance in plays such as Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labour’s Lost, shows that he possessed an intimacy with the specific requirements of each step and gesture in specific moments in his plays. In this workshop, participants learn the dances in some of Shakespeare's plays, and place them in the context of the scenes Shakespeare wrote them for.
"I Met a Fool in the Forest": Clowns
Shakespeare’s clowns and fools are memorable facets of his plays. In this class, participants study the differences between the two character types, learn basic skills for interpretations, and apply them to the text in performance.
Fiery Shapes and Burning Cressets: Early Modern Special Effects
In this workshop participants will examine the unique architecture of the Blackfriars Playhouse in order to discover its potential in staging unusual scenes that epitomize the theatre of the imagination, such as: storms and tempests, shipwrecks, ghostly appearances, statues coming to life, etc. While "working on your feet", participants have the exciting opportunity to creatively explore our multi-dimensional stage in an effort to establish these otherworldy environments.
"We Will Do It in Action": Staged Reading
ASC Education Artists will guide participants through a reading of the play, on its feet, on the stage. This workshop enables participants to hear an entire play out-loud, allowing for a greater understanding of Shakespeare's language. The reading will be done in a round-reading format, with participants passing off characters at the start of each new scene. This format ensures equal participation.
Casting - Talk with ASC Associate Artistic and Casting Director Jay McClure about how he evaluates headshots and resumes, what goes into our audition and casting process, and how to prepare for your own audition.
Audition Workshop - Have your own audition experience led by the ASC Education staff. Explore how ASC conducts auditions and casting, discuss how to choose and prepare a Shakespearean monologue for auditions, and examine the performance techniques that ASC actors bring to the stage.
Design and Shakespeare - Talk with ASC designers about how they craft costumes and props for specific shows and seasons, get a sneak-peek at current work being constructed in our costume shop and props shop, and learn how design informs production choices at the ASC.
Early Modern Costume - Explore the intricacies of costume and makeup requirements in Shakespeare’s plays though the staging demands of quick changes, doubling, and cross-gender casting. Learn recipes for early modern makeup, try on a doublet, and experience first-hand what it’s like to be backstage at the Blackfriars Playhouse (led by ASC Education staff)
Playhouse Architecture - Research into early modern architecture and archaeological finds have informed our knowledge about the construction of Shakespeare’s playhouses. Learn about the construction of both the original and our own Blackfriars Playhouse, and examine historical evidence that will guide the ASC in the building of the Globe II in Staunton. Discover first-hand how architectural features of the playhouse directly influence performance choices in Shakespeare’s plays. Add on an architectural tour of Staunton, supported by the Historic Staunton Foundation.
Playing on the Early Modern Stage - Shakespeare’s actors had an intimate knowledge of the stages they performed on. Through modern Viewpoints and other movement explorations, students will explore playing scenes from the early modern canon and more modern plays on the Blackfriars Stage (led by ASC staff or guest artists).
Arts Management - Discover the ins-and-outs of arts management at the American Shakespeare Center. Discuss the operations of our non-profit organization with Amy Wratchford, ASC Managing Director, or Cathy Bagwell-Marsh, Director of Marketing. ASC Education artists will also reveal how Shakespeare’s own theatre companies formed, and the personal alliances and legal battles that shaped the theatre industry of early London.
Stage Management - Delve into a world of props and promptbooks with a backstage look at the jobs of ASC stage managers. Our stage managers will talk about their daily role in the creation of productions at the Blackfriars Playhouse as well as share how early modern stage management practices influence and inform the work we do onstage and backstage today. Take a look at prompt books from the ASC archive and create your own stage manager’s checklist for a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays (led by ASC Education Staff).
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)
If you are not able to attend one of our regularly scheduled Talk Back! sessions, you can book one just for your group. Ten minutes after the end of the show, the actors and director(s) 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.
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.
If you have special needs students, please let us know when booking. We can tailor our workshop delivery to ensure the best possible experience for everyone.
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 email@example.com 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. If you have fewer than 10 participants, we may combine your group with another that has a workshop at the same time.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 540.885.5588x24.
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