The American Shakespeare Center
Founded in 1988 by Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen and Jim Warren, The American Shakespeare Center took up residence in the newly-built Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA in 2002. Its mission is to recover the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare's theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. All performances are staged with lights on. The audience is seated on three sides of the stage, on the stage, and in the balcony. Actors assume multiple roles, switch genders, sing, and play instruments. The goal is to demonstrate to patrons of all ages that Shakespeare's plays speak to all cultural backgrounds, both as entertainment and as a reflection of the human condition. The artistic year consists of 5 distinct seasons: summer, fall, holiday, Actors' Renaissance, and spring. The Actors' Renaissance Season delves deeply into the rehearsal conditions of Shakespeare's day. Actors have limited time to rehearse, operate from "sides" and work without a director or costume designer. Our nationally-acclaimed touring troupe, American Shakespeare Center on Tour, is on the road six months out of the year with a three-play repetoire performed at over 500 colleges and universities in 47 states and five foreign countries.
As part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, The American Shakespeare Center will offer free and discounted tickets and fees to enable underserved middle and high schools to attend student matinees and educational activities at the Blackfriars Playhouse. The company plans to reach approximately 2,200 students for 30 matinee performances. All matinees are full performances and adhere strictly to Shakespeare’s text. The shows are offered each Thursday beginning September 27 and continuing through May 23 and will include The Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, and Henry VIII.