1. I’ve never worked with the ASC before (or, I’ve never organized anything like this before!)
You can rest easy. Our Tour Operations Manager, Darlene Schneck, will walk you through each step and will be your main contact up until several weeks before the show, when the on-the-road Tour Manager takes over. Darlene will handle all of your questions, issue the contract, and work with you to ensure that you have everything you need. The ASC On Tour office support (Darlene) and on-the-road Tour Manager are both committed to providing you with friendly, timely communication and a smooth process from start to finish. The main things you need to focus on are:
a. Choose a date and time
b. Secure the funding (more about that below)
c. Reserve a performance space (we prefer to set up the night before a show, but if necessary, we can set up the day of the show)
d. Do publicity, sell tickets
2. Do you have any suggestions on funding sources?
It is common for an English department to partner with the Theatre department to share expenses. If you decide to seek grant funding, we are happy to provide you with ASC On Tour materials to share with your committee. To help offset the cost, you may charge admission to a performance. The ASC On Tour does not take a percentage of the revenue. Typical ticket prices at many of our venues have been: $5-7 for students, and $10-$25 for general admission. You may also want to consider partnering with another institution in your area. We also offer block booking rates for consecutive shows booked at different venues in the same town. We are very flexible in finding ways to make a visit to your campus possible, and are happy to assist in reaching out to other institutions in your area.
3. What can our students expect from a performance by the ASC On Tour?
The American Shakespeare Center On Tour specializes in riveting, heart-pounding performances of Shakespeare and other early modern works. If you've ever visited our home stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, you know how much energy and fun we pack into each and every show. You can choose from three different plays, which are performed in true rotating repertory by 11 professional actors. Our tour uses Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions and features world-class productions just like those seen on the Blackfriars Playhouse stage. Our focus is always on remarkable performances through expert acting and a focus on the language rather than spinning tales with elaborate set pieces and electronic wizardry. Actors wear beautiful costumes and use some small set pieces and props, but the ASC On Tour specializes in the “theater of the imagination.” Like early modern acting companies, actors play multiple roles in a single show. The house lights remain on during performances, and the actors surround themselves with audience members on three sides. This inclusive arrangement allows the audience to enjoy the same festive sense of community experienced at Shakespeare’s original Blackfriars Playhouse in London. The celebration starts before the show and continues during the intermission when the actors perform live, unplugged music, including classic rock, Top 40 hits, original songs, and more. ASC On Tour is committed to making English Renaissance plays immediate and engaging to audiences all across the country.
4. What size and type of spaces do you perform in?
Aside from gymnasiums, we can adapt to almost any performance space. To keep the intimate, unplugged nature of our performance intact, however, we prefer to limit the seating to 1,600 or fewer. We perform successfully in all types of spaces such as black box theaters, auditoriums, contemporary thrust stages, and traditional proscenium theaters. We can also perform outdoors with some restrictions. Our desire is to connect with our audience, so the more intimate the space, the better.
5. Our theater is a proscenium, how do you adapt to that?
Not to worry, with a row or two of extra chairs on either side of the stage, we can turn a proscenium into a three-sided “thrust” in minutes. And you’ll soon discover those stage seats are often the most sought after at any ASC On Tour performance.
6. When do you tour, and where?
The ASC On Tour performs each year at more than 50 different performing arts centers, colleges, and universities throughout the U.S. We tour each fall and spring, from mid-September through mid-November, and again from mid-January through the first week of April. The tour travels from Maine to Florida, and westward to Texas and the Midwest. Based in Virginia, we typically head north in the fall, and to the south and midwest in the spring.
7. Do your offer educational workshops?
We have a very strong education arm, and our tour actors are available to lead a variety of one-hour workshops in conjunction with our performances. More than a dozen 1-hour workshops are available on topics ranging from Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions to stage combat. These workshops offer participants an exciting, hands-on learning experience in an intimate setting. With enough advance notice, our education department can even design a unique workshop to meet your student’s specific needs. Workshops are generally limited to 30 participants to allow it to be interactive (15-30 people is ideal). A lecture/demonstration option is available for larger groups. We also offer a “talkback” option, which is a Q&A session held after a performance.
8. What is the size of your troupe and how do they travel?
Our troupe consists of 11 actors and one tour manager and they travel in three vehicles (which includes their costumes, musical instruments, props and set). We typically drive in the evening before a performance (and set up that evening) and leave the morning after. Occasionally we will drive in the morning and set up the same day as the performance.
9. How far in advance should we book the ASC On Tour?
Because we follow a similar schedule year to year, our Tour Operations Manager is able to work with you to reserve a date six months to two years in advance. To reserve the date of your choice, it’s best to contact her at least a year in advance. We do occasionally have individual dates available within a shorter time frame.
10. What are your primary technical requirements?
You simply won’t find a road company capable of creating more excitement with fewer technical requirements. Because we are not high tech, our set up and tear down is easy and quick (about an hour each). We bring our own "discovery space" which is a portable room with a curtain that the actors emerge from; we also bring along pipe and drape to mask the backstage. We use universal lighting throughout the performance (house lights stay on). A 25' x 25' performing space is needed. Our actors do not generally use microphones, however sound reinforcement may be necessary for 1000+ seat venues. We also ask if your theatre is a proscenium, that you create a three-sided thrust by placing a row or two of chairs on either side of the stage. The troupe handles all of the set up and tear down. We do ask that a technical manager from your venue be on hand during that time. Contact our Tour Operations Manager for a full list of our tech requirements.
11. What are the fees?
The fee for one performance includes two one-hour workshops. Please contact our Tour Operations Manager for rates. In addition to the performance fee, you will be responsible for providing suitable lodging for the actors and tour manager (7 rooms needed per night) and meals for 12 people during our stay (campus or catered meals, or you can opt to pay a per diem). Typically, one performance will require a two-night stay, however there are instances where we can drive in that same day. Discounts are available for consecutive shows or block booking. We also offer an ASC On Tour Mini-Week, ASC On Tour Week, or we can work with you to customize a residency. ASC On Tour residencies not only represent your best economic value, but invite your audience to immerse itself in the total theatre experience, allowing them a special “backstage pass” to meet and learn from the actors who bring the ASC On Tour magic alive on stage.
12. How many shows/workshops can you do on a single day?
We can do one show and up to four workshops, or two shows with no workshops. Scheduling two shows on one day is a powerful way to reach a wider audience while saving on the cost of meals, lodging, and performance fees.
13. What kinds of promotional materials do you provide?
We provide a free online promotional toolkit for your print and web use, including photos, posters, and ads.
14. What other things should we know about your tour?
We have been touring since 1988, and our artistic staff has literally hundreds of productions under its collective belt. We’re experienced, and it shows—from the first contact through the last curtain call, we won’t disappoint. Our celebrated, world-class performances are unforgettable and riveting—we are fiercely dedicated to exceeding the expectations of our audiences. Each show provides two hours of traffic on the stage, not including an intermission or the half hour preshow of live acoustic music. Together, our dynamic performances and hands-on workshops create a complete theatrical and educational experience.
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