American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a director coaching actors for their performance

American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp

If you’re an aspiring actor or a die-hard fan of the Bard, you’ve likely scoured the country for opportunities to hone your craft. But have you ever considered a place where you can immerse yourself in the world of iambic pentameter, dramatic monologues, and intricate Elizabethan costumes? Enter the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp.

This isn’t just another summer camp; it’s a transformative experience that promises to deepen your understanding of Shakespearean drama while sharpening your acting skills. Nestled in the heart of Virginia, this camp offers a unique blend of academic rigor and practical theatre experience, all under the guidance of seasoned professionals.

What Makes the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp Stand Out?

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is a sanctuary for those who wish to delve deep into the complexities of Shakespeare’s works. While other camps may offer a smattering of Shakespearean plays, this camp is a full-on plunge into the world of the Bard.

Imagine walking the same type of stage that Shakespeare’s actors once trod or speaking lines in the same manner they originally intended. The camp’s focus on original Shakespearean practices sets it apart, offering a rare authenticity that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Add to that a solid academic foundation, and you’ve got a program that’s as intellectually stimulating as it is artistically fulfilling.

The Partnership with Mary Baldwin University

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp has a strategic partnership with Mary Baldwin University, and the synergy between the two is nothing short of magical. As a camper, you’ll live on the university’s campus, just a few blocks from the iconic Blackfriars Playhouse.

This proximity allows for an immersive experience that extends beyond the stage. You’re not just attending a camp; you’re becoming part of a vibrant academic community that values the arts as much as you do.

The campus setting provides a safe, enriching environment where you can focus on your craft while enjoying university life’s amenities and intellectual stimulation.

A Blend of Academic Rigor and Practical Experience

The final act of your journey at the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp culminates in a spectacular performance. After weeks of intensive study and rehearsal, you’ll work with a director and a production team to mount your show in the Blackfriars Playhouse as part of the Final Performance Festival at the end of the session.

theater actors performing onstage

This isn’t just a camp recital; it’s a professional-grade production that challenges you to apply everything you’ve learned. The experience is a rigorous test of your skills, offering a taste of working in a professional theatre setting.

It’s the perfect blend of academic study and hands-on experience, designed to prepare you for whatever stage you choose to grace next.

Focus on Original Shakespearean Practices

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp takes its commitment to authenticity seriously. You won’t merely recite lines; you’ll explore the nuances of Shakespearean acting techniques, from voice modulation to stage movement.

The camp employs original practices such as universal lighting, allowing actors and audiences to share the same light as they would have in Shakespeare’s time. This approach enriches your understanding of the plays and challenges you to engage with them more intimately and immediately.

It’s like stepping into a time machine and experiencing the plays as original audiences might have, all while bringing your unique interpretation to the role.

Who is the Ideal Candidate for This Camp?

The ideal candidate for this camp is someone who doesn’t just enjoy watching Shakespeare but yearns to live it. You’re not merely a spectator; you’re an active participant in the world of the Bard.

Whether you’re a budding actor or someone who pores over the lines of “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet,” this camp is designed to elevate your understanding and performance of Shakespearean drama.

It’s for those willing to step out of their comfort zones, explore the depths of these timeless works, and bring their unique flair to the stage.

Age and Educational Background

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp welcomes diverse participants, from rising 8th graders (yes, as young as 13) to rising first-year college students. This age diversity creates a rich tapestry of perspectives, allowing for a more dynamic and enriching experience.

Imagine a 13-year-old Juliet delivering her lines with youthful vitality or a rising first-year college student’s seasoned interpretation of Macbeth.

The camp is not just a stage; it’s a melting pot of youthful energy and burgeoning intellect, all united by a shared passion for Shakespeare.

Previous Acting Experience: Is it Necessary?

You might wonder, “Do I need a resume filled with acting credits to join?” The answer is a resounding no. The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is a haven for first-time performers and seasoned camp veterans.

Whether you’ve never set foot on a stage or have a list of roles as long as Hamlet’s soliloquies, this camp has something to offer you. The focus here is not on your experience but on your willingness to learn, experiment, and grow as an actor and interpreter of Shakespeare’s works.

It’s about diving into the deep end, regardless of whether you’ve dipped your toes in the water before.

Passion for Shakespeare and Classical Theatre

A love for the Bard’s intricate characters, poetic language, and complex themes is the cornerstone of this camp. It’s not just about learning how to act; it’s about understanding why these plays have stood the test of time and how they can be brought to life in the modern world.

Your passion is the key that unlocks a treasure trove of learning and performance opportunities, making each moment at the camp a step closer to mastering the art of Shakespearean drama.

What Can You Expect to Learn?

The camp offers a comprehensive curriculum that goes beyond mere acting. It’s a holistic approach to understanding and performing Shakespeare, designed to equip you with various skills to serve you well on and off the stage.

A performer awaiting the moment of entering the stage

From mastering the intricacies of Shakespearean acting techniques to developing a commanding stage presence and delving into the historical context of the plays, the camp offers a multi-faceted learning experience that’s as enriching as it is enlightening.

In-depth Shakespearean Acting Techniques

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is not just about reciting lines; it’s about embodying the characters you portray. You’ll delve into the nuances of Shakespearean acting techniques, learning how to interpret the text in a way that brings each character to life.

Whether mastering the art of the monologue or understanding the subtleties of dialogue, the camp offers a rigorous training program that challenges you to go beyond surface-level acting.

You’ll explore elements like timing, pacing, and emotional expression while adhering to the original practices that make the Shakespearean drama unique.

Voice Modulation and Stage Presence

But what’s an actor without a commanding voice and stage presence? At the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, you’ll undergo specialized training in voice modulation to ensure that every line you deliver resonates with the audience.

You’ll learn to project your voice without straining, vary your tone to convey different emotions, and use pauses and intonation to add depth to your performance. Alongside this, the camp strongly emphasizes developing your stage presence.

You’ll engage in exercises that enhance your body language, facial expressions, and overall aura, turning you into a magnetic performer who can captivate an audience from the moment you step on stage.

Understanding the Historical Context of Shakespeare’s Works

Finally, a Shakespearean education is only complete with a deep understanding of the historical context in which his plays were written. The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp offers a rich academic component that delves into the social, political, and cultural landscape of Shakespeare’s time.

You’ll explore the significance of themes like love, power, and betrayal against the backdrop of Elizabethan England, gaining insights that will deepen your interpretation of the plays.

This historical grounding enriches your understanding of Shakespeare’s works and enables you to bring a layer of authenticity and depth to your performances.

How is the Curriculum Designed?

The curriculum is crafted to offer a well-rounded experience that marries theory with practice. It’s not just about learning lines or understanding the plot of “Othello.”

It’s about diving deep into the essence of Shakespearean drama, exploring its historical roots, and applying this knowledge in a practical setting. The camp’s curriculum is structured to progressively build your skills, starting with foundational acting techniques and culminating in a full-fledged performance.

Balance Between Theory and Practice

One of the standout features of the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is its impeccable balance between theoretical learning and practical application.

Imagine this: You spend your mornings engrossed in the textual analysis of “Macbeth,” dissecting its themes and characters. Come afternoon, you’re at the Blackfriars Playhouse, bringing those very characters to life in a showcase of scenes from throughout Shakespeare’s canon. Performed by you and your fellow campers and directed by the expert camp staff, this showcase is not just an exercise but a celebration of Shakespearean drama.

The best part? It’s free and open to the public, offering a platform to display your newfound skills and insights. This seamless integration of theory and practice ensures that you’re not just studying Shakespeare but living it.

Typical Daily Schedule

So, what does a day in the life of an American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp participant look like? Your mornings will likely start with academic sessions that delve into the intricacies of Shakespearean language, themes, and historical context.

You’ll transition into practical workshops after a hearty lunch and some downtime to absorb the morning’s lessons. These could range from voice modulation exercises to stage movement drills, all aimed at honing your acting skills.

Evenings might be reserved for rehearsals, where you’ll apply everything you’ve learned in a real-world setting. It’s a rigorous but rewarding schedule designed to make every moment count.

Special Workshops and Guest Lectures

The learning continues beyond regular classes and rehearsals. The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp also offers special workshops and guest lectures that enrich your experience.

These could range from masterclasses by renowned Shakespearean actors to talks by scholars specializing in Elizabethan history. These sessions offer a deeper dive into specialized topics, providing additional tools and perspectives to elevate your understanding and performance of Shakespearean drama.

How Can You Make the Most of Your Time at the Camp?

The camp is a treasure trove of academic and practical opportunities, and the key to making the most of it lies in a proactive approach. Complete most of your classes and workshops by participating in them.

Don’t just hear the lectures; take them in and try to apply them. Don’t just meet people in your field; connect with them and build a network to help you in your career.

Your time at the camp is a golden ticket to a world of Shakespearean wonder, and it’s up to you to explore it fully.

Networking Opportunities with Professionals in the Field

One of the most invaluable aspects of the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is the access it provides to seasoned professionals in the field. These aren’t just teachers but mentors who can offer insights that textbooks can’t. Take advantage of this.

Attend the networking events, participate in the Q&A sessions, and don’t hesitate to approach these experts with your questions and thoughts. Building these relationships can provide immediate benefits, like enhanced learning, and long-term advantages, such as potential mentorships or even career opportunities in the theatre world.

Engaging in Extracurricular Activities and Workshops

While the core curriculum of the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is rich and comprehensive, the extracurricular activities and workshops offer an additional layer of learning that’s too good to miss.

Whether a specialized masterclass on voice modulation or an impromptu seminar on Elizabethan costumes, these activities provide a hands-on experience that complements your academic learning.

They’re also a fantastic way to bond with fellow campers, creating a sense of community and shared passion that can make your time at the camp even more rewarding.

Tips for Absorbing as Much Knowledge as Possible

How do you absorb as much knowledge as possible during your camp? First, come prepared. Familiarize yourself with the plays that will be covered so that you can dive deep during discussions.

Take notes, not just during lectures but also during practical sessions; these can be invaluable for revision and reflection. Participate actively in all activities, even those out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, remain curious.

The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp is designed to be a stimulating environment, and the more questions you ask, the more you’ll learn.

What are the Financial Considerations?

Attending a specialized camp like this is an investment, not just in terms of time and energy but also financially. Understanding the full scope of costs, from tuition to any additional expenses you might incur, is essential.

Group of students walking in the campus.

But don’t let the financial aspect deter you. The camp offers various scholarship opportunities and financial aid options that can make this transformative experience more accessible.

Tuition and Other Associated Costs

The tuition for the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp stands at $3900. Now, before you balk at the figure, consider what this covers. This isn’t just a fee for attending classes; it’s an all-inclusive package that takes care of you from the moment you set foot in Staunton.

We’re talking lodging, meals, and even show tickets. Once there, you can immerse yourself in the Shakespearean world without worrying about additional costs.

It’s a comprehensive package designed to let you focus on what you came for an unparalleled education in Shakespearean drama.

Scholarship Opportunities and Financial Aid

But what if the tuition is still a stretch for you? Fear not. The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp offers a range of financial aid options that can lighten the load.

The general fund of financial assistance can cover up to half the cost of tuition. Then, specialized scholarships like the Sydney Stark Jr. Memorial Fund may cover the entire tuition cost.

Other scholarships, such as the George Walton Williams, Stephen Booth, and Thomas L. Berger awards, each offer $2,000 based on financial need.

Let’s not forget military families; an exclusive scholarship award provides at least half the cost of tuition, acknowledging the unique challenges of military family life.

The Return on Investment: Is it Worth it?

So, is the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp worth the investment? In a word, yes. The camp offers an experience that goes beyond mere acting lessons. It’s a deep dive into the world of Shakespeare, offering academic rigor, practical experience, and networking opportunities with professionals in the field.

The skills and knowledge you gain here are not just applicable to the stage; they’re life skills that can benefit you in various settings.

Moreover, your friendships and connections can last a lifetime, providing you with a network of like-minded individuals who share your passion for the Bard.

How Do You Apply?

Attendance at this prestigious camp is by acceptance only. You’ll need to apply and be accepted to secure your spot. You’ll receive an invitation to register once your application shines through the selection process.

Young student using a laptop.

This is an exclusive experience designed for those genuinely passionate about delving into the depths of Shakespearean drama.

Application Process and Deadlines

Timing is crucial when securing your American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp spot. While there is an Early Application deadline, don’t fret if you’ve missed it. Applications are considered on a rolling basis until the session is complete or until the final application deadline arrives, whichever comes first.

Here’s a tip: mark the 15th of each month on your calendar. That’s when applications are reviewed, with admissions decisions sent out the following week.

If you’re keen on joining, getting your application in as early as possible is advisable to increase your chances of acceptance.

Audition Requirements

Auditions are a critical part of the application process, and they allow you to demonstrate not just your acting skills but also your understanding and interpretation of Shakespeare’s works.

While each year may have specific audition requirements, generally, you’ll be expected to prepare a monologue or a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays.

Tips for a Successful Application

Finally, how can you ensure that your application to the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp stands out? First, pay close attention to the essay questions.

This is your chance to articulate why you’re drawn to Shakespearean drama and what you hope to gain from the camp. Be genuine and specific in your responses. Second, choose a piece you connect with emotionally and intellectually during the audition.

Your performance should reflect not just your acting ability but also your understanding of the text. Lastly, take into account the power of recommendations.

A glowing teacher or mentor reference can go a long way in bolstering your application.


As we draw the curtain on this comprehensive guide to the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, it’s clear that this isn’t just another summer camp. It’s a transformative experience that offers a deep dive into Shakespearean drama.

From the meticulously designed curriculum and the balance between theory and practice to the plethora of scholarship opportunities and the rigorous application process, every aspect of the camp is crafted to provide an enriching and enlightening experience.

Whether you’re a budding actor, a Shakespeare lover, or someone new to the Bard’s world, this camp offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a community that shares your passion and curiosity.

Ready to Take the Next Step in Your Academic and Artistic Journey?

If you found value in this in-depth look at the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, you’ll love what we offer at AdmissionSight. Just like the camp nurtures your passion for Shakespearean drama, we specialize in nurturing your academic and extracurricular talents to help you gain admission to your dream college.

At AdmissionSight, we understand the importance of a well-rounded education that includes academic excellence and a deep engagement with the arts. Our college admissions consultancy services are designed to help you showcase your unique skills and passions, whether a love for Shakespearean theatre or a talent in STEM.

With our personalized guidance, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the complex college admissions landscape, from selecting the right schools to crafting compelling essays and preparing for interviews.

Don’t leave your college admissions journey to chance. Let AdmissionSight help you unlock your full potential and turn your college dreams into reality. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!


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