The American Shakespeare Center is committed to being the world leader in Shakespeare performance studies, and a vital component to this ongoing research is our Actor-Scholar Council. During the Actors' Renaissance Season, scholars meet with our resident acting troupe to provide insights into approaches to the text that will help our performers more faithfully re-create Shakespeare's original staging conditions. Likewise, our actors provide visiting scholars with valuable insights into how performance at the Blackrfriars Playhouse can inform scholarship. We record the Actor-Scholar Council sessions for podcast release; look for them a week or so following the recording date.
February 10: Much Ado about Nothing with Miriam Donald (Beatrice), Benjamin Curns (Benedick), John Harrell (Dogberry), Aidan O'Reilly (Don John, Verges), and René Thornton, Jr (Leonato).
March 2: Richard III with Benjamin Curns (Richard), Allison Glenzer (Queen Elizabeth), Gregory Jon Phelps (Earl Rivers, Lord Mayor, Earl of Richmond), Brandi Rhome (Lady Anne, Richard Duke of York), and Jeremy West (Lord Stanley, Murderer, Scrivener).
March 9: Philaster, Or Love Lies A-Bleeding with Sarah Fallon (Princess Arethusa), Chris Johnston (Gentlewoman, Woodman), Daniel Kennedy (Thrasiline), Aidan O'Reilly (Pharamond), and Gregory Jon Phelps (Philaster).
March 23: Mad World My Masters with Miriam Donald (Frank Gullman), Allison Glenzer (Frank's Mother, Jasper, Sir Aquitaine Colewort), John Harrell (Master Penitent Brothel), Daniel Kennedy (Sir Bounteous Progress), and Gregory Jon Phelps (Dick Follywit).
March 30: Dido, Queen of Carthage with Sarah Fallon (Dido), Chris Johnston (Sergestus), Brandi Rhome (Juno, Mercury, Anna), René Thornton, Jr (Aeneas), and Jeremy West (Cloanthus).
April 6: Final Wrap-Up Session
Scholars who would like to be on the panel should contact Sarah Enloe at email@example.com and should plan to attend at least three hours of rehearsal observation prior to the Council meeting.
Exploration of the intersection of Study and Performance is the driving philosophy behind the Actor Scholar Council. The purpose of the council meetings is three-fold:
1. Provide participants with the opportunity for discovery related to the process of mounting and performance of Early Modern Plays at the Blackfriars Playhouse.
2. Provide participants the opportunity to explore their overlapping areas of expertise in order to garner avenues for para-professional friendship, and
3. Create a record of conversation for future study.
The following research topics came out of a single session of the ASC@ASC in the past Renaissance Season.
Transcripts and recordings of Actor-Scholar Council sessions are kept in the American Shakespeare Center Archives. The public is welcome to review these materials: please contact Sarah Enloe, Director of Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 540.885.5588 x28 for more information.
In 2005, the American Shakespeare Center decided to try an experiment in modern staging: Shakespeare and his fellow actors didn't have directors, designers, or lengthy rehearsal periods, so what would happen if our resident troupe at the American Shakespeare Center tried producing the works of the Renaissance stage using Renaissance staging practices? The result was our first ever Actor's Renaissance Season, and it was a bigger hit with our audiences than we imagined.
In 2006, inspired by Tiffany Stern's Making Shakespeare, our actors got even closer to Renaissance staging conditions by using partial scripts that contained only their lines and a few words of the preceding cue. Actors would, sometimes with the help of individual instruction, develop a sense of character removed from the complete text of the play, and this would serve as their inspiration for making performance, costume, and prop choices. Ultimately, each of the actors in the season came to the first rehearsal with a different interpretation of the play, based on their part, and the result was an even more authentic Renaissance staging experience.
What began as a limited experiment in more faithfully re-creating Shakespeare's staging conditions has become a regular offering of the American Shakespeare Center. Some of the rules have changed, but our Ren Season Troupe continues to create Shakespeare's plays without directors or designers, and on limited time frames. Their work adds to our overall understanding of the way these plays worked.
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Actors' Renaissance Season