Winter: The Actors’ Renaissance

January 24 - April 19

14 Actors. 4 Plays. No Directors.

Born of an experiment to bring Shakespeare’s performance conditions into our rehearsal hall, the Actors’ Renaissance has become a hallmark of ASC’s unique blend of scholarship and practice. It’s our deepest dive into the Elizabethan era, and in doing it we continue to make discoveries about how things might have happened in the original Blackfriars Playhouse.

Here are the basics: A 12 to 15 member acting company composed entirely of  ASC veterans performs four plays in rotating repertory, rehearsing each of them in 10 days or less, without directors. Decisions about setting, music, props, and costumes are made by the company collectively and individually, accessing ASC’s stock of clothes, swords, and furniture.

Nothing empowers the actors more than being given the reins. We’ve practiced this way for fifteen winters now, and it has created some of our most memorable productions (for good and ill)! It’s a fast-paced, fascinating experience that led Washington Post theatre critic Peter Marks to declare: “I arrived a skeptic, I left a believer.”

 

“2020 is the 15th anniversary of ASC’s groundbreaking exploration of director-less classical theatre: the Actors’ Renaissance, or as we affectionately shorthand it, the Ren. When this great experiment began, ASC was the modern progenitor of a very old idea: ensembles of artists organizing themselves around a text without the aid of a director. Over the last fifteen years, this practice has been studied and emulated, but nowhere has it reached fuller expression than here on the Blackfriars stage.

Join us in this Ren season of revival as we renew our familiarity with characters old and new, revisit this one-of-a-kind space, and reinvigorate our commitment to the work of ASC with the finest Shakespearean actors this side of 1611.”

– Ethan McSweeny, 2020 Actors’ Renaissance Welcome Letter

Shows

January 24 - April 19

Feel the joy of love won and the ache of love lost as this story makes you laugh, breaks your heart, and then somehow puts it back together again in Shakespeare’s tale of trickery and true love.

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January 31 - April 18

While young Prince Hal follows the path toward kingship under the eye of his father, the aging Falstaff drinks and starts trouble. The satisfying end to a tale too full of adventure to be told in just one play...

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March 19 - April 18

Shakespeare’s masterful tale of family and friends, honor and happiness, and those moments when we are forced to choose between the thing we desire and the thing we know we must do.

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February 21 - April 17

Travel to the land of Iberia—a sort of adult Never-Never-Land—where King Abracas’ royal dilemmas include marrying off his sister before his own feelings for her get in the way and a murderous plot against him hatched by his own mother. This show is wickedly funny!

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April 5 - 16 (Select Dates)

ASC’s signature Renaissance Run of this delightful script may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Watch as our skilled actors, scripts in hand, navigate the multiple plots and dramatic ironies of this romp through the city of Cheapside...

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Performance Dates

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Cast

* indicates member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)