Performance, Playhouse, Practice, and Play
The Blackfriars Conference Returns in partnership with MARY BALDWIN UNIVERSITY!
This November, the American Shakespeare Center and Mary Baldwin University will co-host the 11th Blackfriars Conference at the Blackfriars Playhouse. 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 are 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.
Registration for this year’s Blackfriars Conference is now CLOSED. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
To select your add-on features, including plays to see during your time in Staunton, and certain special events, please contact the Box Office at 1.877.MUCH.ADO.
But wait! Check out the extra events included with all Conference registrations:
The Untitled Othello Project: Untitling Twelfth Night – A Practicum
S&P Hosted Happy Hour for Alumni and Higher Ed professionals
Late Night Event: What’s In a Name?
Thursday November 2
- Holly Pickett: Staging Shakespeare’s Caves
- Elizabeth Dieterich: “So Open and Black a Theater”: Staging Race Indoors and Outdoors in Early Modern Drama
- Dr. Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy: To Blanch an Ethiop: Motifs of Blackness in The Tempest and Jonson’s Masque of Blackness
- Dr. Patrick Harris: Eleazar was a white man: Phenomenologies of Race & Performance in Lust’s Dominion
- Laura DeLuca: Adopting Ancient Royalty: Cleopatra VII in Early Modern Drama
- Elissa Wolf: Shakespeare’s Asides
- Blaire Baron, arguing for Ana Caro de Mallén’s Valor, Agravio y Mujer, aka Courage, Betrayal, and a Woman Scorned, aka The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs
Friday, November 3
- Peter Kirwan: 1, 2, 3; or, Wherefore Art Thou Not Rogero?
- Lars Engle: “Staging a textual crux: performing competing fixes of The Changeling 3.4.68-73″
- Amanda Rogus: Exit Juliet Pursued by Romeo: Exploring Storytelling Shifts in Explicit Stage Directions
- Emma-Rose Kraus: Placing the Prick in Dido, Queen of Carthage: Performance Practice as a Tool for Textual Scholarship
- Radical Hospitality/Radical Welcome in Shakespearean Performance ⏐Participants: Jeremy Fiebig (Leader), Kim Carrell, Alexa Alice Joubin [FORMAT: Roundtable]
- “Teach it but how”: On-Your-Feet Pedagogical Approaches for Shakespeare ⏐Participants: Allison Pajor (Leader), Annette Drew-Bear, Elissa Wolf, Erin Lekavich, Tiffany Waters [FORMAT: Workshop]
- Place and Space in the Making of American Regional Shakespeare ⏐Participants: Dr. Barbaro Bono (Leader), Chelsea L. Horne (Leader), Maria S. Horne (Leader), Deborah Payne, C.C. Kellogg, Lauren Romagnano [FORMAT: Roundtable]
- Shakespeare’s White Others Book Signing with Dr. David Sterling Brown, plus a virtual-reality art gallery exhibition “Visualizing Race Virtually” [FORMAT: drop in]
- Dr. Diana Henderson, arguing for Christopher Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris
- Jesse Wood: “Mama Bears in Shakespeare”
- Kirsten Wimberg: “What is to Love Unpossible?”: Gallathea, Casting, and Queer Joy
- Mary Ruth Robinson: Doubling Time in The Winter’s Tale
- Dr. Ian Borden: Waist Not, Want Not: Does Shakespeare have a Waif Problem?
- James Keegan: Mister Master: A Season of Playing White Supremacy on the Blackfriars Stage
- Kaitlin Nabors: Two Second-Graders of Verona: Using Shakespeare’s Plays to Activate Social-Emotional Learning Benchmarks
Saturday, November 4
- Chad Thomas: Beyond the Green World: Queering As You Like It
- Analise Toone: “Whe, God-a-mercy, Captain!” Using Language to find new Performance Opportunities in Aphra Behn’s The Rover
- Alexa Alice Joubin: Are There Transgender Characters in Shakespeare?
- Dylan Mabe: “Fight Call!” A Narrative Writing Intervention Through the Lens of Stage Combat
- Paige Reynolds: Bereft: Standing Still in The Winter’s Tale
- Staging Discoveries⏐Participants: Sara Stamatiades (Leader), Blair Coats, Scott Maisano, Marshall Garrett [FORMAT: seminar]
- Building a Practice to Build an Audience⏐Participants: Robert Crighton (Leader), and Elizabeth (Liza) Graham [FORMAT: roundtable]
- The Untitled Othello Project at the University⏐Participants: Emily Bryan (Leader), Rachel Bauer (Leader), Charles Gillespie (Leader), and a panel of their undergraduate students [FORMAT: panel]
- Shakespeare Bulletin Publishing Workshop with Dr. Peter Kirwan: Come meet the general editor of Shakespeare Bulletin, get updates on contemporary issues in Shakespeare performance publishing, and bring your questions about submitting articles to this and other journals. [FORMAT: drop in]
- Liza Graham, arguing for Robert Greene’s (possibly) George a Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield
- Scott Maisano: “In a Berowne Study: Daydreaming of Love’s Labour’s Won and in Love’s Labour’s Lost“
- Stacey Jocoy: ‘His better tune remembers’: Edgar’s Mad Song, heard but not seen, in King Lear
- Abraham Joyner-Meyers: Wind and Rain: Shakespearean Music, Oral Transmission, and Contemporary Performance
- Sid Ray: “[A]voiding rheum”: Stage Spitting in the Intimacy Direction and Pandemic Eras
- Jack Earlenbaugh: ‘Edgar I nothing am”: Performative Madness and Bedlam in King Lear
Sunday, November 5
- Molly Seremet: “Behold God’s providence and his wonder of wonders” – Anne Greene’s Anatomical Redemption and The Stages of Female Bodily Autonomy
- Clara Biesel: Real Bodies, Imaginary Print
- Dr. Kerry Cooke: “I seal, I cancel, I do what I will”: Letters & Dueling Secretariats in Edward II
- Nicole Sheriko: Talking Heads: Early English Puppetry and Robert Greene’s Brazen Head
- Claire Kimball: Photographing Shakespeare in Performance: A Visual Dramaturgy
ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST MAIN STREETS
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!
|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.
A charming small hotel right downtown!
- Hotel 24 South, one of our conference locations, is also an historic hotel in downtown Staunton. It is located next to the Playhouse and is just a short walk from the main street.
- The Howard Johnson Express Inn and the Frederick House, as well as many bed and breakfasts in and around downtown, almost all attendees will be able to park their cars for the weekend and walk to all events. Other lodging within driving distance to the downtown area include The Blackburn Inn, Hampton Inn,Sleep Inn, Red Roof Inn,Quality Inn and Suites, and theBest Western.
- You can also visit www.visitstaunton.com for more information regarding transportation and accommodations.
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.
A SHORT DRIVE
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
MEET THE 2023 KEYNOTES
Keith Hamilton Cobb
Keith Hamilton Cobb is a speaker, an actor, and a playwright who has been drawn mostly to the stage in his working life, but has also been recognized for several unique character portrayals he has created for television. He has appeared in classical and contemporary roles on regional stages country-wide. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in acting. His award-winning play, American Moor (published by Methuen Drama), which explores the perspective of the African American male through the metaphor of Shakespeare’s Othello, ran off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Theatre in the fall of 2019. It is the recipient of an Elliot Norton Award, an AUDELCO Award, two IRNE Awards (Independent Reviewers of New England), a 2022 Cleveland Critics Circle Award, and is part of the permanent collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Keith is the director of Project Untitled, LLC, a company evolving socially just processes of analysis and inquiry at the intersection of humanities education and theater-making, and of The Untitled Othello Project, currently in residence at Sacred Heart University in collaboration with Blessed Unrest Theatre Company, which operates as an extended “interrogation and rehearsal with artists and educators” of Shakespeare’s play, Othello, disrupting antiquated ideas of its purpose and value, and exploring the human struggles with race, religion and sexuality, and other salient issues that it activates whenever it is performed.
In addition to his work as director and administrator, Keith speaks at academic institutions around the country on the topic of the intersection of race and Shakespeare, particularly as it is reflected in American Moor, and in The Untitled Othello Project. His most recent engagements have been the Arts Transcending Borders Residency at College of the Holy Cross, 2023; the 2022/23 Hurst Artist-in-Residence at Weber State University, Ogden, UT; and Artist in Residence 2021-23 at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT.
The title of his keynote address is “Untitling Shakespeare: A Brief Biography of an Evolving Practice”.
Patricia Akhimie is Director of the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She is also the Director of the RaceB4Race Mentoring Network and Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she teaches Shakespeare Renaissance drama, and early modern women’s travel writing. She is the author of Shakespeare and the Cultivation of Race: Race and Conduct in the Early Modern World (Routledge 2018), editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Race (2023), and co-editor, with Bernadette Andrea of Travel and Travail: Early Modern Women, English Drama, and the Wider World (University of Nebraska Press 2019). She is currently at work on a new edition of Othello for the Arden Shakespeare 4th series, and a monograph about race, gender, and editing early modern texts. Her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Ford Foundation.
The title of her keynote address is “The Goodness of the Night: Editing Othello”.
SIR TREVOR NUNN
Sir Trevor Nunn CBE dedicated himself to theater while at Downing College, Cambridge; after graduating in 1962, he worked for the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964. At the age of 25, Nunn was made Associate Director at the RSC and quickly found success with productions that included The Revenger’s Tragedy (1966) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967). In 1968, he was appointed to succeed Peter Hall as Artistic Director. The following year he directed Judi Dench in the roles of both Hermione and Perdita in The Winter’s Tale. Nunn’s decision to harness the style and music of the 1960s made this an influential production. For the RSC’s 1976 production of Macbeth (with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen), Nunn staged the play for an intimate audience of 200. The production was televised and played worldwide.
In 1980 Nunn and John Caird directed the RSC’s innovative eight-and-a-half-hour staging of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens in London, which was given several Olivier Awards, including for Best Direction. This inclusive event opened on Broadway in 1981 and won four Tony Awards, including those for Best Play and Best Director of a Play. In London, his production of Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber and T S Eliot opened in 1981 and ran for 21 years, making it the longest-running British production of a musical, until it was eclipsed by Les Misérables, which he directed for the RSC in 1985 and is still running. Both Cats and Les Misérables were the recipients of numerous Tony Awards in 1983 and 1987, respectively, including those for Best Director of a Musical.
After retiring as RSC Artistic Director after eighteen years, Nunn continued working with the company, directing productions of Othello (1989), Measure for Measure and The Blue Angel (1991) whilst also directing the Lloyd Webber/Hampton/Black musical Sunset Boulevard in London and on Broadway and the operas Porgy and Bess and Katya Kabanova.
From 1997 to 2003, Nunn served as the Artistic Director of the Royal National Theatre, directing many productions, including Oklahoma! (1998) with Hugh Jackman, and the unknown Tennessee Williams play, Not About Nightingales (1998), both of which won him nominations for Tony Awards for Best Director in their Broadway productions. In 2000 he won an Olivier Award for his direction of three RNT productions: Summerfolk, The Merchant of Venice, and Troilus and Cressida. His productions of My Fair Lady and Anything Goes were also award-winning and he was the recipient of the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement.
After leaving the RNT, Nunn directed a ground-breaking Hamlet at the Old Vic, the Lloyd Webber/Zippel/Jones musical The Woman in White (2004), Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll (2006), and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (2008). In 2011 he joined the Theatre Royal Haymarket as resident Artistic Director and directed four plays, including the rediscovery of Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path and The Tempest with Ralph Fiennes. In 2019 his revival of Fiddler on the Roof opened in London to huge acclaim.
Trevor Nunn has also directed several movies, including Hedda (1975), Lady Jane with the young Helena Bonham-Carter (1986), Twelfth Night (1996) and, with Judi Dench, Red Joan (2018). In 1978 he was made a CBE and in 2002 he was Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to the Theatre. Sir Trevor has recently completed a book on William Shakespeare, since he has now directed all 37 of his 37 plays.