Performance, Playhouse, Practice, and Play

The Blackfriars Conference Returns!


This November, the American Shakespeare Center will welcome conference attendees back to the Blackfriars Playhouse, where we will join together each day of the conference to hear papers, celebrate attending the plays in our season, and enjoy other social events and activities.  Additionally, for the first time ever, conference registration and submissions will be open to undergraduate students. Paper presentations and staging sessions will be in-person only, but we are excited to also offer remote participation for some colloquy sessions.

Read below for details about the submission process for this cycle.

Call for Papers

For the 2023 Blackfriars Conference, we are soliciting three different types of submissions:

Plenary papers – Since 2001, we have featured papers that explore the performative conditions of early modern plays, the effect of place on those performances, the practices of the players, and the texts themselves through time. These 10 minute (13 minutes for presenters employing actors to demonstrate a point) plenary presentations take place on the Blackfriars Stage. To present a plenary paper, please submit a 250-300 word abstract outlining your topic.

Colloquy leaders – Since 2009, we have convened conversations amongst interested scholars on a variety of subjects. These 60 minute colloquies are guided by a leader who determines their format and shape. Examples of past presentations include: panels of short papers, seminars in which each participant submits a paper to the group before the conference for discussion at the conference, and round-tables. To lead a colloquy session, please submit a 250-300 word proposal outlining your topic of conversation and proposed format.

Staging sessions – Since 2019, we have invited submissions for early modern, non-Shakespeare plays to include in ASC’s production year. These 20 minute staging sessions are “competitive” opportunities for proposers to make the case for why their play should be performed on the Blackfriars stage at this time (in other words, why this play here and now). Sessions will be adjudicated by ASC artistic staff and the winning submission will secure their title’s inclusion in the artistic season for the following year. To lead a staging session, please submit a 250-300 word proposal that includes the play title and an outline of your argument.

Topics for consideration in any of the above formats might include:
  • Casting practice, rehearsal practice, performance practice
  • Evidence of practice in the extant plays or documents
  • Evidence of education or experience in plays or documents
  • Connections between texts (editorial, allusions, character symmetry, etc)
  • The status of ‘performance’ in early modern culture
  • Audiences and audience response
  • Props and costumes
  • Spaces of performance
Please submit your 250-300 word proposals by May 15, 2023 via the link below. You may only present once, but may be considered for all three categories by submitting this form multiple times with the appropriate category selected. Proposals will be considered based on their alignment with the conference aims, their originality and scholarly interest, and their potential to contribute to a program representative of the diverse constituencies served by the ASC. Presenters will receive notification by August 1, when registration opens.

Questions? Contact our Education Team: 

Conference Schedule

Events are subject to change
Thursday November 2
2:00pm – 3:00pm Box Office open for check in/registration
3:00pm Opening Ceremonies
3:30pm – 4:30pm Paper Session #1
7:30pm Coriolanus performance
Friday, November 3
9:00am Opening session
9:30am 10:15am Keynote #1 
10:45am – 11:45am Paper Session #2
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch Break
1:15pm – 2:15pm Colloquy
2:45pm – 3:45pm Staging Session #1 (plays A and B)
4:15pm – 5:15pm Paper Session #3
7:30pm Much Ado About Nothing performance
10:30pm Late Night Event (details are TBD)
Saturday, November 4 
9:00am Opening session
9:30am – 10:15am Keynote #2 
10:45am – 11:45am Paper Session #4
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch Break
1:15pm – 2:15pm Colloquy
2:45pm – 3:45pm Staging Session #2 (plays C and D)
4:15pm – 5:15pm Paper Session #5
7:30pm Hamlet performance
10:30pm Late Night Event (details are TBD)
Sunday, November 5
9:00am Opening session
9:30am – 10:15am Keynote #3
10:45am – 11:45am Paper Session #6
12:00 pm FAREWELL! (Farewell event is TBD)


Named both one of the 20 Most Beautiful Main Streets in America by Reader’s Digest and one of the 25 Best Small Town Main Streets in America You Need to Visit ASAP by Oprah Daily, Staunton is the perfect escape. Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Downtown Staunton is packed with boutique shopping, local award-winning restaurants, and extraordinary hotels—park you car and leave it all weekend! 

Getting to (and around) Staunton

  • Conference Venues are as follows:
    • American Shakespeare Center, 10 S Market Street, Staunton, VA, 24401
    • MBU at the Wharf, 23 W Johnson St, Staunton, VA, 24401
    • RR Smith Center, 20 S New St, Staunton, VA 24401
    • Staunton Innovation Hub, 11 N Central / 32 N Augusta, Staunton, VA 24401
  • By Train: There is an Amtrak station in Staunton that can be accessed by the Cardinal line, but it is an unstaffed station. This means that there is no station crew. The train crew will direct you to the appropriate train car and help you with luggage, but your tickets must be printed before arrival and departure.
  • By Air: Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) is approximately 45.8 miles away from Staunton, Dulles International Airport (IAD) is 144 miles, and Richmond International Airport (RIC) is approximately 115 miles. Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), just outside of Staunton, is a local airport, but is opening up a wider range of flights; it offers a quick shuttle to town.
  • By Car: Interstates 81 and 64 provide easy access to Staunton, with several exits providing access. U.S. Routes 250 and 11 run basically parallel to the interstates and offer a more scenic drive, with the same ease.
  • Parking in Staunton: Parking is ample within walking distance of the Playhouse. The New Street Parking Garage, the Johnson Street Parking Garage, and metered lot and street parking (at approximately $1/hour) offer spaces for those inclined to drive.  Hotel 24 South provides parking for guests, as does the nearby Frederick House. You will find most other beds and breakfasts and hotels equally accommodating.
  • Trolley system in Staunton: At a very reasonable 25-cent charge per ride, Staunton’s charming trolley system encourages further exploration around down. Be sure to check out the green route as it is a favorite among visitors in Staunton. More information regarding the trolley system can be found at Visit Staunton.


With multiple places to stay downtown, the action is just steps away from your door. Check out our lodging partners for special deals and rates for ticket holders!

Blackburn Inn and Conference Center

Book a discounted ASC rate when you stay at Blackburn and see a show at ASC!

Book Your Discounted Rate Here

Hotel 24 South

Mention the ASC discount when booking your room reservation (540-885-4848) or visit us online and use the promo code ASC4ME. This discount is for overnight accommodations only. Tickets are purchased through ASC.

Frederick House

A charming small hotel right downtown!


Staunton boasts a bustling culinary scene—and multiple wineries, breweries, and cideries. Explore our Dining Guide!


Besides restaurants and hotels, Downtown Staunton is full of local shops featuring antiques, home decor, handmade jewelry, and fair-trade gifts. Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Library is just one block from the Blackfriars Playhouse, offering tours of the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson alongside their museum exhibits.


Access to Skyline Drive, a 105 miles road along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, is just a short drive from Downtown Staunton and boasts beautiful scenic outlooks and hikes year-round. The Frontier Culture Museum is just down the road, offering glimpses into the lives of early inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley complete with original homes brought from around the world and living history interpreters.

Learn more about Accessibility and More in our Plan Your Visit Guide

We will notify you after May 15 about the outcome of your submission. We will then begin the process of coordinating with both presenters and actors.


 As our attendance has grown over the past few years, we are no longer able to provide transportation from airports.


SHD shuttle offers to and from the airport near Staunton; all airports listed above offer car rentals. We also recommend inquiring with other scholars about car shares.


Up to three actors per presentation; we will request that you specify particular needs for those actors and provide their text no later than 15 September 2023.


It is conference policy not to volunteer props. We ask that presenters provide their own.


For questions regarding the conference, please email