Posted in A Message from the Ralph, American Shakespeare Center, Blackfriars Playhouse

Dr. Ralph responds to the departure of Emma Rice

Wondering how the co-founder and director of mission of the American Shakespeare Center, home of the world’s only recreation of the Blackfriars Playhouse, is taking the news of Emma Rice’s sudden departure as artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London? Read on for Ralph’s opinion:

Sam Wanamaker’s success in building the Globe (Shakespeare’s celebrated outdoor theatre) provided much of the impetus for building the Blackfriars (Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, more celebrated in his day than the Globe).  For that reason, the Globe’s decision to part ways with new Artistic Director Emma Rice following next season is a matter that should be of interest to fans of the Blackfriars Playhouse and the American Shakespeare Center.

Because Ms. Rice is remarkable director with an exciting vision, her tenure has occasioned a serious conversation about the purpose of the Globe. The particular concern that sparked that conversation was her decision to add lighting and amplification to the shows in the Globe.  In doing so, she raised important questions about a fundamental reason for the careful re-creation of the building: to explore how plays Shakespeare designed for that space might work, not just to learn more about Shakespeare but to learn more about theatre as well.


What concerns me as co-founder of the ASC and as a member of the Globe’s Architectural Review Group, is the way the press is framing the Globe’s decision.  Their easy view is that this is a battle between tradition and innovation – between those who want the shows in the Globe to be a kind of museum theatre and those who want to apply modern technology to the shows to make the plays contemporary.

The reverse is true.  The technology that Emma Rice has installed in the Globe is the conventional lighting and sound available in every prosperous modern theatre.  She is a master of the use of that technology, but there is nothing new about it; fitting it into the Globe is a case – almost literally – of trying to put a square peg into a round hole.  By contrast, the Globe is a unique building.  Previous Globe directors – men and women – have drawn their inspiration from that building, and their exploratory work has been a wellspring of contemporary theatrical creativity.  They have helped us to look anew at the relationship between actor and audience, at live musical accompaniment, at movement, at costume, and at issues of gender and casting.

In that way, the Globe, as Sam Wanamaker intended, has reminded us of the value of the purely human in the theatrical experience.  In short, by using the space that inspired Shakespeare to look afresh at theatre unmediated by technology, the Globe has been a leader in creating unconventional theatre, and it has inspired theatre companies all over the world (most without connection to Shakespeare) to trust in the ability of actors and in the understanding of audiences to make great theatre without the support of performance-enhancing technology.

The American Shakespeare Center is proud that the Blackfriars Playhouse is one of those unconventional theatres.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. What do you think?


Posted in ASCTC 2016

Session 2 Survey Raffle: Winner #3!

Sorry for the delay on this third drawing. But here it is at last!

So – there are still two posters left to claim as well as the grand prize if we get 100% completion. I have 31 responses so far.

If I get 33, I’ll raffle off another poster.

If I get 35, I’ll raffle off the final one.

If I get 38… hold on to your hats.

Everyone who has taken the survey remains eligible to win in each drawing.




Posted in ASCTC 2016, Camp Life

Session 2 Survey Raffle: Winner #2!

Another day, another 10 survey responses. Time to pick winner #2!

Posted in ASCTC 2016, Camp Life

Session 2 Survey Raffle: Winner #1!

Well, that happened quickly.

I sent out the Session 2 camper survey a few hours ago. (Didn’t get it? Let me know, I’ll send it again!) This time around, I am raffling off exclusive playhouse signs from the 2014 and 2015 holiday and actors’ Renaissance seasons.

raffle prizes
From left to right: Patrick Earl in The Santaland Diaries, Rene Thornton Jr. in something(?), Rene Thornton Jr. in The Santaland Diaries, Stephanie Earl in The Twelve Dates of Christmas, and Sarah Fallon in Oh No She Didn’t (aka Antony and Cleopatra).

I pull a name for every 10 survey responders who email me with the secret word revealed at the end of the survey. Winners get to pick their poster, and remain eligible to win again and again!

Congrats, winner! Email me to let me know which poster you’d like!

Posted in ASCTC 2016, Camp Life, Camp Life, Plentiful Picture Post

[PPP] A Night of Sonnets!

Our session has come to a close. Before that, however, we had our annual camp tradition of Sonnet Night! It’s Secret Santa, but with sonnets and dressing up as the sonnet’s subject on the last night of camp.

Here are just a few of the night’s priceless moments:

But wait – there’s more!