Happy Birthday, Clare!

We had an extra special day yesterday when Clare celebrated her sixteenth birthday with us! The whole cafeteria sang as Clare was presented with a birthday cake at dinner.

Many happy returns, Clare. Thanks for being so sweet on your sweet sixteenth!

-Kayla Blue, camp intern

Inside Merry Wives: Music on the Stage

“Give me some music; music, moody food/ Of us that trade in love.” -Antony and Cleopatra II.5.

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Campers working on music during rehearsal for The Merry Wives of Windsor

The cast and company of The Merry Wives of Windsor have a special treat in store: a conceptual show that plucks the script of Merry Wives out of early modern England and drops it into the culture of turmoil and free love in the American 1960s.  One opportunity for developing this concept hides in the music of the show.  When I popped into rehearsal, I heard Shakespeare’s lines inserted into some of my favorite tunes from the era of psychedelic rock.

These talented young campers have music and ’60s style to share.  Merry Wives should not be missed — it’s, like, far out, man. -Kayla Blue, camp intern

Inside Cymbeline: Combat Blocking

This post marks the first of a series of posts that offer a glimpse into each rehearsal room.

Ben Curns plays double-duty at camp this session; directing Cymbeline and teaching the Stage Combat Master Class will keep him busy.  Not until tomorrow do his Combat Master Classes begin, but his combat knowledge and stage fighting skills have already been activated in his own rehearsal room.  Cymbeline features a thrilling series of stage fights and our campers had a blast on Saturday blocking the climactic sequence.

Below: Jill, Matt, Liv, Jonah, Jaden, Roan, and Leah flex their stage combat muscles in our rehearsal space in Deming Hall.


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Still to come: Looks inside Merry Wives and Henry V. 

-Kayla Blue, camp intern

“Truth or Dare Shakespeare”: A Devised Piece

Coming this weekend, live from the King Theatre at Stuart Hall School: TRUTH OR DARE SHAKESPEARE, a Showcase performance.  The Showcase will take place Saturday, July 4th at 7:30pm.  Doors will open slightly after 7:00pm.

The idea for this “Showcase” hatched from Camp Director Kim’s musings on the camp structure.  She recalled the love of all Shakespeare’s plays that she felt when she herself was a camper at YCTC. While campers now go deep and narrow on their study of one play, that in which they are cast, Showcase offers a slice — either a full scene, a scenic splice, or a cut of a scene — of twenty-three of Shakespeare’s plays. The scenes converge around the themes of truth or dare, action and consequence, cause and effect.

This original piece, directed by Molly Seremet, a Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare and Performance graduate student, and Sara Hymes, an actor in the ASC’s 2014 Summer/Fall and 2015 Actors’ Renaissance Seasons, brings scenes from across the Shakespearean canon to the stage.  Devised theatre liberates directors and actors to prepare theatrical pieces unbound from a strict text.  Additionally, devised work offers a highly collaborative creative process for everyone in the rehearsal room. Parents, family, and friends are invited to attend this exciting piece of theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Stuart Hall School is located at 235 W. Frederick St. in Staunton, VA.  Free street parking is accessible around the school. For not-so-local parents, family, and friends, we will be recording the production and making it available to you; more information will be forthcoming.

Activities Around Camp: Rasaboxes

While mornings are always spent in rehearsal, afternoons and evenings offer opportunities for fun and games or other (non-rehearsal) theatre activities for our campers. Camp Life Director, Tess Garrett, shared with the campers her specialty, Rasaboxes, on Friday afternoon.

From Tess:

“Rasa is an ancient Sanskrit word for essence. When actors spend time training in this technique, they become ‘athletes of the emotions,’ able to use their bodies and breath to activate the intrinsic nervous system and produce physiological responses that pertain to the specific Rasa they are channeling. This technique also helps create a tangible emotion in the air, helping the audience to empathize with the actor.

Rasaboxes enables actors to create a tangible atmosphere in the rehearsal room or performance space in a safe manner, not requiring actors to recall past experiences to produce a believable emotion.  With enough training, a performer can easily produce a true physicality that expresses their character’s emotional state- no fake tears or laughter- in a moment, and drop that emotion as soon as they leave the stage!”

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Each camper’s experience was unique and intimate in this emotional exercise.  (From top Lea, Elsa, Sydney, Roan and Mattie personalize the boxes with words and pictures that represent each box’s essence before beginning their performance work with the boxes.)

Whether in a lecture, on the stage, or in a box, camp life at ASCTC challenges and encourages campers to develop their working knowledge and theatrical application.

“Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.” -A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2.1

At the American Shakespeare Center, we practice Shakespeare’s staging conditions. Throughout this first week of camp, the campers have been immersed in the stage and page practices of our company. Two such practices are doubling and gender-blind casting.

“Doubling” describes casting one actor to play multiple roles in a single show. In Shakespeare’s companies, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and the King’s Men, this practice was necessary.  It kept costs down by keeping a small company of players. At camp, each cast has only eleven members playing all the characters. This feat is slightly more difficult to achieve with one of our plays, Henry V, which boasts Shakespeare’s longest dramatis personae (over 40 characters!). Hannah, playing King Henry, is the only cast member with a sole character to perform.  In Cymbeline, too, campers have character tracks with multiple on-stage responsibilities. Jaden and Grace, below, will be juggling the many characters in their tracks, both which feature only male characters. Get ready to see your camper under a whole new (universal) light! At the ASC, directors often cast women in male roles. This may partially be due to the abundance of male characters in the canon, and/or partially due to the fact that in Shakespeare’s time, custom prohibited women from acting on the stage, and therefore all women’s roles were played by men. This tradition of non-gender-specific casting in Shakespeare’s plays gives our camp directors the liberty to cast the camper who best fits each role, no matter their gender. More information on Shakespeare’s staging conditions can be found at our website.


More from the rehearsal room and workshops coming soon!

-Kayla Blue, camp administrative intern