Flute, feeling frazzled. 

In the weeks leading up to the first session of ASCTC 2016, we decided to do something brand new. We created a Shakespeare Sweepstakes, a chance for any and all to enter for a chance to win a full scholarship to a session of camp. We picked a winner* at random: Cat Moreschi, pictured to the left in her role as a nervous Flute in the 2016 Session 1 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After her experience at Session 1, she wrote us to say:

I can’t even begin to explain how much attending camp has changed me. I learned so much over the course of the three weeks, met so many wonderful people, and had so much fun. Even now, two weeks later, I find myself wishing I was back at camp. I would have been more than happy to spend my entire summer there. … I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to have this experience. It is one I will never forget.

Programs like the ASC Theatre Camp are transformative. Cat’s performance of flustered Flute’s change from anxious actor into theatrically thrilling Thisbe (pictured above) mirrored her own journey of development, discovery, and delight.

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Cat as Flute as Thisbe in Midsummer’s play-within-a-play, Pyramus & Thisbe. Both photos by Lindsey Walters.

These programs require the time and effort of a lot of very dedicated people. They require resources like the Blackfriars Playhouse and the Mary Baldwin University campus. They also require housing the campers with round-the-clock adult supervision to ensure their safety and well-being, as well as regularly feeding them sustenance other than gruel with a side of saltines. These things cost money, and the price tag of camp tuition, though significantly smaller than other comparable programs across the country and around the world, can still be prohibitive for many.

The American Shakespeare Center has the luxury of being a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which means the ASC is not gunning (or legally permitted) to make a profit from camp – we’re not here to provide a payday for investors or anybody else. If for some reason we do make a profit, that money goes right back into improving and expanding camp and other ASC programming. The $3475 price tag of tuition isn’t about making money for the American Shakespeare Center. It’s simply what it costs to run a program like ours.

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We have some Financial Aid to give out, and we raise money year-round for the ASCTC Scholarship fund, but we simply can’t make camp a reality for all the students who want, and need, and wish to come. At least, not yet.

The Shakespeare Sweepstakes was created for those potential campers. For those who will be bolstered and buoyed by camp, encouraged to take ownership of their words, their presence, their essential being – to push themselves to the limit, to encounter insurmountable challenges on day one and then surmount them on day twenty-one.  For those who will change and challenge their fellow campers, their directors and RDAs, and themselves. Because that’s what our campers do; that’s what camp does; if price is the only thing standing in the way then by heaven, we’ll shove it over for at least one, at least one person to have the experience they couldn’t otherwise.

Campers rehearse for the Staged Reading Showcase of HENRY VIII, directed by Patrick Harris.

This brings me to a larger point about why we have this Sweepstakes at all: If you can afford camp, please pay for it. I want camp to be available to everybody. This Sweepstakes is one way of bringing camp to at least one person for whom attendance would otherwise be impossible. We all like to get something for free whenever we can – but please don’t enter the Sweepstakes just because it would be nice to get camp for free. We need your support. If you can afford to support camp by paying tuition, then you can also give a camper who could never otherwise attend a better chance of winning.

Learn more about the Sweepstakes here. And head on over to the Entry Form in order to put your name in the pot. Entries will close at midnight on March 30, and the winner will be announced on Friday, March 31st. May the odds be ever in your favor!

*Oh, and when I say we “picked a winner,” I mean we did this:

Plans are already in the works for upping the stakes for the selection of the 2017 winner.