In odd-numbered years since the first October that the Blackfriars Playhouse was open, scholars from around the world have gathered in Staunton, during the height of the Shenandoah Valley’s famed fall colors, to hear lectures, see plays, and learn about early modern theatre. In 2019, the American Shakespeare Center’s Education and Research Department will once again host Shakespeareans, scholars and practitioners alike, to explore Shakespeare in the study and Shakespeare on the stage and to find ways that these two worlds – sometimes in collision – can collaborate.

Register for the 2019 Blackfriars Conference
Register by OCTOBER 1, 2019 to guarantee your selected show tickets


Past conferences have included such notable scholars as:

  • Andrew Gurr, the “godfather” of the Blackfriars Playhouse
  • Bill Rauch
  • Dymphna Callaghan
  • Russ McDonald
  • Ayanna Thompson
  • Gary Taylor
  • Gina Bloom
  • Stephen Greenblatt
  • Ann Thompson
  • Roz Knutson
  • Abigail Rokison
  • Tina Packer
  • Scott Kaiser
  • Gail Kern Paster
  • Stephen Booth
  • Tiffany Stern
  • George T. Wright

Each year we also honor a scholar who has made great impacts in the theatre field: previous honorees have included C. Walter Hodges (2005), Alan Dessen (2007), Andrew Gurr (2009), Stephen Booth (2011), George Walton Williams (2013), Barbara Mowat (2015), and Richard Hay (2017).

This conference distinguishes itself from saner conferences in a variety of other ways. First, to model the kind of collaboration we think possible, we encourage presenters to feature actors as partners in the demonstration of their theses. For instance, in 2009, Gary Taylor’s keynote presentation “Lyrical Middleton” featured ASC actors singing and dancing to the songs in Middleton’s plays; in 2015, Tina Packer and James Loehlin worked with ASC actors on scenes from Antony and Cleopatra with Blackfriars Conference participants witnessing rehearsal room challenges. Second, we limit each paper session to six short papers (10 minutes for solo presentations, 13 minutes for presentations with actors). Third, we enforce this rule by ursine fiat – a bear chases from the stage those speakers who go over their allotted time.

One to four short paper sessions are held daily during the conference, with approximately four to six papers each. Each session lasts 60 to 75 minutes. Each day of the conference will also include roundtable discussions, chaired by MBU faculty or ASC research staff, with up to 10 participants discussing specific areas of interest, which could include cross-gendered casting, race, staging disability, new media tools and the interaction with performance, original practice/staging, and rhetoric. Early risers can also take advantage of our one hour Wake Up workshops prior to the start of the day offered by the education staff.

Colloquy submissions are now closed.

Dates to Note:

June 30, 2019: Deadline to Sign Up for a BFC 2019 Colloquy 

October 1, 2019: Deadline for Conference Registration with tickets guaranteed

October 22-27, 2019: Tenth Biennial Blackfriars Conference

Sign Up for a Colloquy

Register by OCTOBER 1, 2019 to guarantee your selected show tickets
Register for the 2019 Blackfriars Conference

Stay up to date.

Take a look at a page from the 2017 BFC schedule (or click here to download the entire 2017 BFC schedule as a PDF) to get an idea of a typical day at the Blackfriars Conference:

Wednesday 25 October 2017

8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Registration: Cutaia Lounge
Coffee, tea, and pastries in Cutaia Lounge
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Welcome Session
Blackfriars Playhouse Stage 


10:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Lena Cowen Orlin
Georgetown University
Shakespeare 401


11:00 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
Staging Session
Moderator: Rick Blunt, Independent Actor

Steven Urkowitz, Former Trustee, American Shakespeare Center
King Lear: 2.4, 4.6


11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Early Modern Movable Theatre
Moderator: Frank Hildy

Angus Vail, The Container Globe
Miles Gregory, Pop-up Globe
Tim Fitzpatrick, University of Sydney
Robin Bates, Lynchburg College


1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Paper Session I
Moderator: Marc Connor, Washington & Lee University

George Walton Williams, Duke University
Supernatural Solicitings

Rob Conkie, La Trobe University
Backstage Merriment
Christina Dennehy, Northern Arizona University
“I Find the People Strangely Fascinated”: Performing King John in the Trump Era

Lia Wallace, American Shakespeare Center
Much Virtue in “If”: A Case Study of Editorial Consequences

Tiffany Stern, Shakespeare Institute
Houseplay in the Playhouse

Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin University


3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Paper Session II
Moderator: Terry Southerington, Mary Baldwin University

Heidi Cephus, University of North Texas
Staging Mamillius and Confronting Prejudice

James Marino, Cleveland State University
Part-Based Revision in Doctor Faustus

Joseph Stephenson, Abilene Christian University
Marstonian Echoes in a Previously Unknown Seventeenth-Century Play: “Danger and Delight” in The Dutch Courtesan and The Dutch Lady

Claire Bourne, Pennsylvania State University
Sweet Division/Dismal Scenes: Lace Ornaments & Dramatic Form in Q1 Romeo and Juliet (1597)

Katherine Williams, New York University
“Playd in the Black-friers”: Eastward Ho and Theatrical Collaboration

Michael Wagoner, Florida State University
Theatrical Microinterruptions in Shakespeare and Fletcher


4:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Paper Session III
Moderator: Jeanne McCarthy, Georgia Gwinnett College

Genevieve Love, Colorado College
Degree of Difference Cubed: Shakespeare’s _Richard III_ │Shakespeare’s Richard III │Richard III’s Spine

Donald Hedrick, Kansas State University
Bad Acting/Real Acting

Brett Gamboa, Dartmouth College
Maids of Exchange: Heywood and the “Man-Woman Monster”

Marisa Cull, Randolph-Macon College
The Public Body and Face in King John

Scott Maisano, University of Massachusetts Boston
Spray It, Don’t Say It: Performing I.2 of Richard III

Grace (Sid) Ray, Pace University
“I cannot tell vat is baiser en Anglish”: Shakespeare’s Kissing


8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The Fall of King Henry
(Henry VI, Part 3)

Directed by Jim Warren and Jenny Bennett

Blackfriars Playhouse

Music begins at 7:30 p.m.