Since 2016, the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp has been reaching out to new audiences in our annual Sweepstakes.  This event awards one lucky participant a full tuition scholarship to a session of the ASC Theatre Camp (ASCTC). The idea behind this Sweepstakes is simple: anybody can enter, anybody can win. It is open to every eligible camper (rising 8th graders through rising college freshman aged 13-19), and we select our winner at random through the most outlandish means we can think of (check out the videos of the 2016 and 2017 drawings).

We have been delighted with each new camper this sweepstakes has brought our way, but we also want the opportunity to award a select group of students–some who we have seen on our far-reaching excursions, whether via ASC on Tour, our residencies, our visits to conferences, or to Middle Earth (just making sure you were still reading).  We ultimately decided that our tour sees so many kids across the US that the rest of the ASC team desperately wants to meet, that the best solution is…..

………taking this show on the road with the Sweepstakes on Tour.

 

What is it? A Special Sweepstakes. The rules are a bit different, but the prize is the same: a full tuition scholarship to a session of the 2018 ASC Theatre Camp.

When is it? Right now! We are currently accepting entries for the inaugural Sweepstakes on Tour and will draw the lucky winner on February 26, 2018.

Where is it? Clarksville, TX (population: 3,176).

…where? Clarksville is a rural town in Red River County, East Texas — about 140 miles northeast of Dallas. Since 2012, when an anonymous (and amazingly generous) donor stepped in to cover the costs of bringing the ASC on Tour to Clarksville High School for a show and two workshops, it has been one of our favorite stops. Clarksville has few outlets or opportunities for students who may be  interested in or benefit from the performing arts. Oftentimes, our visits represent students’ only encounter with live theatre.

Why? Thanks to the donor’s generosity, Clarksville has been an annual stop for the ASC on Tour for the last seven years. Our visits have certainly made an impact. “These experiences are PRICELESS!!” says Clarksville ISD Superintendent Pam Bryant.  “We are so very fortunate to experience the works of Shakespeare presented by the live acting troupe from the American Shakespeare Center.  Our benefactor is providing a gift to our students which will last a lifetime!”

While we treasure praises from Bryant and others, we have something to admit. Clarksville provides the ASC actors with the real gift — the opportunity to work with and perform for their students.

“They participated more earnestly than the privileged college theatre students I’ve seen at one of the biggest Universities in Texas,” wrote actor Zoe Speas after visiting Clarksville with the 2015/16 Dangerous Dreams Tour. “Sometimes you get an experience like Clarksville where it smacks the nonsense out of your head and forces you to recognize the incredible beauty of this art form and what it is capable of doing for humanity.”

Current troupe member Constance Swain agrees. “Clarksville is truly a gem,” she says, noting specifically that “it means the world to me to look out in that audience and see kids that look like me. I’m sure they feel the same. Representation is necessary, for everyone.”

What does any of that have to do with the ASC Theatre Camp? Or the Sweepstakes? Bryant hopes the ASC on Tour will inspire the budding thespians of Clarksville. “Who knows?” she said. “This presentation [by the ASC on Tour] may create a spark in the minds and hearts of students who will later become Shakespearean actors!”

Her comment made me think about something Speas wrote in her letter: “When we left, the principal thanked us and told us repeatedly how much our visit had impacted her students. What a gift it was for her school to have us there. I appreciated her words, but I couldn’t begin to explain to her that it was the other way around.”

I understand how she felt. To quote Shakespeare, “What have I to give you back, whose worth / May counterpoise this rich and precious gift? Nothing, unless…”

Wait.

Camp. We have the ASC Theatre Camp.

And that’s how it happened. We created the Sweepstakes on Tour to have an opportunity with focus; something we can limit to specific students or communities. In recognition of the gifts they bestow upon us every year, we are proud to debut the Sweepstakes on Tour to the students of the Clarksville Independent School District who inspired its creation.

Entries are open only to the eligible students of the Clarksville ISD, one of whom will win a full tuition scholarship to a session of ASCTC 2018. A donation from Pamela Fox, President of Mary Baldwin University, will cover the winner’s travel to and from Staunton. We will be recording and live streaming the 2017/18 Wicked Folly Troupe when they draw and announce the inaugural winner during their performance at Clarksville High School on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Once the Sweepstakes on Tour closes, the general Sweepstakes will open to all entries. Anyone can enter, anyone can win, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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