When the coronavirus pandemic led the American Shakespeare Center to close its doors temporarily in mid-March, we managed to create virtual versions of not only our entire slate of artistic offerings (seven shows!) via BlkFrsTV, but also much of our Education programming as well. While I Zoomed out of the empty Blackfriars Playhouse and into digital classrooms across the country this spring, I kept thinking to myself, “how in the world are we going to do this for camp?”

Camp is about more than the content of its classes — camp is about the magic that happens when you gather people together in a room, give them a bunch of really good words, and invite their imaginations to run wild. Unfortunately, the threat posed by the global coronavirus pandemic means campers cannot travel from far and wide to live and work and play together the way we do at camp. Therefore, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the ASC Theatre Camp’s in-person “Super Session.” We love camp, but we love our campers more, and their safety is not worth the risk of running a residential program. 

We’ve still got words and imagination in spades, however, so all we really need to do in order to keep the magic of camp alive this summer is redesign the “room” in which we gather. Instead of limiting ourselves to the Blackfriars Playhouse, we’re turning our imaginations loose on the entire internet for three weeks of multifaceted, dynamic, responsive theatrical exploration we’re calling #SHXCamp.

What is #SHXCamp?

#SHXCamp is a socially distant version of the ASC Theatre Camp: a three-week immersive intensive for teens conducted entirely online.

When is #SHXCamp?

#SHXCamp will take place during the dates originally scheduled for the “Super Session”: July 12 – August 3, 2020.

How does #SHXCamp work?

Campers will collaborate with each other and with our staff synchronously and asynchronously via the video-conferencing platform Zoom and the communication platform Slack. 

What will campers do at #SHXCamp?

Overall, #SHXCampers will sharpen old skills and learn brand new ones while connecting with others who share their passion, and will emerge with more confidence as well as finer control of their craft.

#SHXCampers will audition together on Day 1 in order to be cast in a show — but instead of rehearsing a one-hour production for performance in the Blackfriars Playhouse, #SHXCampers will use cue scripts to dive deep into the text of their role. Under the guidance of #SHXCamp staff, each cast will create a multimedia-enhanced devised exploration of their play to be shown in a final celebration at the end of #SHXCamp. 

#SHXCampers will customize their #SHXperience by enrolling in different elective classes taught by #SHXCamp staff and developing a personal portfolio of their individual work alongside their contributions to the final portfolio of their assigned show. 

#SHXCampers will have the opportunity to earn college credit from Mary Baldwin University, to hang out in virtual lounges with other campers during downtime, and to join the gang for beloved camp life activities in the evenings and on weekends. 

#SHXCampers will not be parked in front of their screens all day watching pre-recorded lectures, nor will they be stranded in an anonymous Zoom wasteland. 

What will the day-to-day of the #SHXCamp schedule look like?

We’ve designed a dynamic, coast-to-coast daily schedule for #SHXCamp that will retain many of the treasured parts of the ASC Theatre Camp Life that keep campers coming back year after year while also fully, boldly, and joyfully exploring the boundaries of this brave new medium. 

#SHXCampers will meet five days a week (M-F) for two blocks of synchronous daily programming: “morning” rehearsals (after the all-camp warmup) and “afternoon” classes, workshops, and coaching sessions. A few “evenings” each week will also be devoted to virtual versions of beloved camp life activities (like the talent show, Masquerade, and sonnet night). Each day concludes with an all-camp “lullabye” before campers disperse.

On the weekends, #SHXCampers can log on to a variety of optional groups to play games, do crafts, play music, or just hang out. 

What is the cost of tuition for #SHXCamp?

Tuition for the three-week #SHXCamp is $2250. Financial aid is available for qualifying campers.

How do I get into #SHXCamp?

Attendance at #SHXCamp is by admission only. All campers accepted into ASCTC 2020 are automatically accepted into #SHXCamp, and campers who have already registered for the ASCTC 2020 Super Session should email Camp Director Lia Wallace at lia.wallace@americanshakespearecenter.com to confirm their attendance at #SHXCamp and receive an updated account status snapshot.

If you are not already registered for the ASCTC 2020 Super Session, you can apply directly to #SHXCamp. Accepted #SHXCampers will receive a link to the registration form in their acceptance confirmation email.

I registered for ASCTC 2020, but do not want to participate in #SHXCamp. Can I get a refund?

All money paid towards tuition for ASCTC 2020 may be transferred into a placeholder towards tuition for ASCTC 2021, converted into a tax-deductible donation, or fully refunded. Please Contact Camp Director Lia Wallace at lia.wallace@americanshakespearecenter.com to discuss your options.

When is the registration deadline for #SHXCamp?

In order to allow adequate time for planning and postage (see info about the SHXBox, below) the deadline for #SHXCamp enrollment is June 20, 2020.

What else do I need to know?

All #SHXCampers will receive a SHXBox “Starter Kit” containing a #SHXCamp shirt along with the materials needed for all-camp activities. The SHXBox is designed to spark campers’ imaginations and inspire them to get individually creative from a collective starting place.

While we cannot bring students from around the world to Staunton, Virginia for three weeks of residential mayhem culminating in a final festival of performances in the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, we can bring hearts and minds together to collaborate on creative responses to our current circumstances using some really good words and the entirety of the internet. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.