This is the only place where I can study Shakespeare in the light I want to and with other students who have the same love. – 2016 Camper
What is ASCTC?
The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp (ASCTC) is an immersive, intensive, residential experience for students. We welcome students aged 13 to 19 – whether you’re heading off to college in the fall or just about to start high school, you’re invited to join us for three weeks of collaborative creation at the Blackfriars Playhouse – the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. Campers work with each other and with ASC actors, professional directors, and renowned scholars to study the world of Shakespeare’s stagecraft in detail while learning about text, technology, and themselves. Each ASCTC session culminates with a performance festival where campers strut and fret the boards of the Blackfriars Playhouse stage in one-hour versions of early modern plays.
Where is ASCTC?
ASCTC takes place in Staunton, VA in partnership with Mary Baldwin University and the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. Campers live in the dorms at Mary Baldwin, attend lectures and workshops on campus, and perform on the stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Campers also have both free time and planned activities around downtown Staunton, and take a day trip to Sherando Lake in the Shenandoah Valley State Park.
When is ASCTC?
ASCTC takes place over two three-week sessions every summer.
Summer 2017 Session Dates
Session 1: June 18 – July 9
Session 2: July 16 – August 6
How much does ASCTC cost?
Tuition is $3475 a session, which includes the deposit, room and board at Mary Baldwin University, workshops, rehearsals, t-shirt, DVD, family admission to the final festival and picnic, and tickets to ASC performances during camp.
We have some scholarship opportunities, and financial aid is available for qualifying accepted campers. Find out more about tuition payment options and financial aid in the Financial FAQ section.
It will literally be the best three weeks of your life. You’ll make lifelong friends, meet amazing people, and learn so much more than a school can teach you. – 2016 Camper
Why is ASCTC called a “college preparatory” experience?
Yes, ASCTC is a summer camp, but our campers are students, too. In addition to forging friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime, ASCTC students are studying Shakespeare at an advanced level. The schedule is rigorous. Over three weeks, campers work with professional directors rehearsing one-hour versions of early modern plays in preparation for the final Performance Festival.They take classes with ASC scholars and education artists in topics like rhetoric, speaking Shakespeare’s verse, early modern print culture, and audience contact. They take workshops with ASC actors in voice, movement, and stage combat. Some campers take extra classes to earn college credit, and all campers preview the college experience by living on the Mary Baldwin University campus: eating in the dining hall, living in the dorms, and navigating sharing a living space with roommates.
The Mary Baldwin dorms are some of the nicest I’ve seen. – 2016 Camper
What are the living arrangements?
Campers live on the Mary Baldwin campus in the University’s newest dormitory building (built in 2002), the PEG Center. During the school year, the students enrolled in MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted live in “PEG”, which was built in 2002. Air conditioning and wireless internet are just a couple of the amenities offered. Our Residential & Directing Assistants (RDAs) also live in the dorms in order to provide 24/7 in-house supervision and assistance. The dorm is on the edge of campus bordering downtown Staunton – just two blocks from the Blackfriars Playhouse. The dining hall, rehearsal, and workshop spaces are all on MBU’s walkable campus (steep hills build strong calves).
How many campers room together in a dorm?
Dorm rooms are double occupancy, but some rooms house up to three campers. Each room is equipped with twin beds and desks. You must provide your own bedding, pillows, sheets, towels, etc. You are welcome to decorate your room with posters or pictures, but must use double sided tape as opposed to thumb tacks.
I loved the actual dorm and my roommate was awesome. – 2016 Camper
Are there bathrooms in each dorm room?
There are two community showers and toilets on each floor, each serving approximately 10 campers. We also separate by gender with campers identifying as male rooming on one floor with male RDAs, and campers identifying as female on a different floor with female RDAs. Living arrangements for campers who identify outside of the gender binary are decided in conversation with the camper, their family, and camp staff.
What outdoor or exercise facilities are available to campers?
Mary Baldwin University is located on 54 acres, with large field, varied outdoor spaces along with tennis courts made available to the ASC Theatre Camp. The MBU campus is on a large hill, and we tend to keep campers fairly busy moving from place to place throughout the day; a certain amount of outdoor physical activity is thereby guaranteed. Additionally, depending on interest, RDAs usually organize a morning running group led by one of our counselors.
What is the food like at Mary Baldwin University?
Hunt Dining Hall is a state of the art dining facility offering many choices with every meal. We are able to accommodate all health concerns and dietary restrictions. Vegan, vegetarian, or have a food allergy? No problem. Learn more about dining at MBU.
I loved living on the campus. Everything about it was fantastic and it really felt like home. The food was also great and there were gluten free options, which was an extreme relief. – 2016 Camper
What is the security like at Mary Baldwin?
Like all residential colleges, Mary Baldwin has on-campus security. In addition, our very capable counseling staff are with our teen campers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The PEG Center features an alarm system that ensures proper access. Counselors perform nightly “lights out” checks, as well as, give morning “wake-up” calls to make certain everyone is safe.
What is the ratio of adult supervisors to campers?
Between our hands-on administrative staff, show directors, RDAs, production interns, and master class teachers, the ratio is about 1 adult to every 4 campers.
ALL ABOUT SHOWS – AUDITIONS, REHEARSALS, PERFORMANCES
Will I be cast in one show or all three?
Each ASC Theatre Camp participant is cast in only one of the three shows we have slated for each Session. You might receive one role or several depending on the demands of the play.
I felt a lot better about the audition than I was expecting to — I thought I would be terrible, and then I wasn’t! Part of it was probably the collaborative, more personal nature, rather than just “stand in a line, say your piece, and shut up.” – 2016 Camper
Are there auditions for the plays?
Yes, we do indeed conduct auditions on the first full day of camp. Auditions are a combination of traditional monologue performance and collaborative improvisational techniques which simply require a willingness to play and creative choices in the moment. All administrative staff, show directors, RDAs, and production interns are present for these auditions. Staff sits down to hammer out casting immediately afterwards, while campers take their introductory voice and movement workshop. We usually post cast lists and distribute scripts before dinner that same day, so campers can begin familiarizing themselves with their parts before the first rehearsal.
Hunt was not sparkling clean but it was a good place to work. The trudge up to Deming was hard but the building made it worthwhile. – 2016 Camper
Where do we rehearse?
Each cast has a designated space on campus where the majority of their rehearsals will take place, including Deming Hall (MBU’s black box theatre space). In the past we have used rooms in Grafton Library and the ballroom in Hunt as rehearsal spaces, but we are always on the lookout for other options that may be more comfortable, less crowded, and more conducive to creating theatre. In addition to these spaces, each cast will have several opportunities to rehearse in the Blackfriars Playhouse – approximately 8 hours per cast, including the final late-night dress rehearsals.
How often do we rehearse?
Rehearsals take place 6 days a week and are scheduled in 3-4 hour blocks. You are encouraged to schedule meetings with directors, RDAs, production interns, or camp administrative staff for extra help with line-learning and/or scene/monologue coaching. Every member of our experienced staff considers working with campers on their parts a big highlight of their job at camp – and the camp administrative staff in particular would relish any opportunity to work with students instead of spreadsheets. Seriously.
My director was awesome and my cast was super willing to work hard. Every rehearsal was super productive. Also rehearsals are just so fun in general! – 2016 Camper
Where does ASC Theatre Camp perform their final shows?
On the final day of camp, we take over the Blackfriars Playhouse for the afternoon in order to perform all three plays one right after the other. We finish the day with a quick strike at the Blackfriars and then a big celebratory picnic with parents and friends on the grounds of Mary Baldwin.
The late night dress rehearsals were pure magic. Everything was dark outside, and then you enter this legendary space where you have seen fantastical performances put on, and you are acting on that very same stage. It is pure magic. – 2016 Camper
WHAT DO I BRING?
It was great! Please go, but pack lots of black! – 2016 Camper
We recommend that all campers bring a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. We recommend the Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus. Campers with reliable e-readers may also wish to consider a well-edited digital text such as the Folger’s online editions.
No matter your skill level we encourage everyone to bring a musical instrument of some sort. Shakespeare’s plays are full of music, sound, and fury – and the ASC’s trademark is to highlight all of it, both during, before and at the end of the plays.
Whether it is for the plays, masquerade dance, or pre-show entertainment sketches, we encourage everyone to bring some favorite funky pieces of clothing that show a sense of character. It could be anything from a cool hat to a dramatic dress, but most of all it should be something you think looks interesting from an audience’s perspective.
Base Costumes: Costuming at the ASC Theatre Camp usually consists of character indicators added to a black or neutral base costume. We as all campers to pack plenty of black clothes with this in mind, including black shoes (sneakers or dress shoes).
Movement Clothes: Because we are a theatre camp everyone is required to wear clothes that allow for full physical movement without being too revealing in rehearsals and performances master classes. If you have a dance background feel free to bring jazz or character shoes, otherwise, bring sneakers. And don’t forget a swimsuit for our day at Sherando Lake!
I loved having a common passion with everyone. We’re all nerds and it’s fun! Most of the workshops were incredibly interesting and I learned so much about acting and Shakespeare, most of which I’ll use in performances this year! 10/10 I’m planning on coming back next year, unless some huge tragic accident accident happens, like I get mauled by a bear. – 2016 Camper