Save on Tickets & Room Rate
We'll get your tickets for you at a special hospitality rate of $25 for reserved seats.
Stay for 5 nights and 3rd night is 30% off; 4th night is 40% off; 5th night is 50% off!
Comc and enjoy!
"If you want to see the real thing . . . the place to go is Staunton, home of the American Shakespeare Center, whose performances are given in a dazzingly-exact re-creation of the Blackfriars' Playhouse . . . the uncomplicated stagings give the impression that you're seeing the play itself, naked and self-sufficient . . . but not antiquarian . . . immensely enjoyable . . . first-rate theater."
-- Terry Teachout, drama critic, Wall Street Journal
“ . . . to be more thankful to thee shall be my study . . . .”
The Winter’s Tale, 4.2
In order to fully realize the mission of recovering the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theater, The American Shakespeare Center is embarking on an ambitious plan for a re-creation of the 1614 Globe Theater which will be here in Staunton, VA. In the meantime, the theater where Shakespeare’s plays were performed indoors, The Blackfriars, is here in Staunton (the world’s only historically-correct re-creation of The Blackfriars' Playhouse).
Shakespeare's actors could see their audience; ASC actors can see you. When actors can see an audience, they can engage with an audience. The audience members can play the roles that Shakespeare wrote for them -- Cleopatra's court, Henry V's army, or simply the butt of innumerable jokes. Leaving an audience in the dark can literally obscure a vital part of the drama as Shakespeare designed it.
This practice is called universal lighting. So at The Blackfriars' Playhouse, "We do it with the lights on."
Information about The American Shakespeare Theater:
Sets: Shakespeare’s company performed on a large wooden platform unadorned by fixed sets or scenery. A few large pieces – thrones, tombs, tables – were occasionally used to ornament a scene. Like Shakespeare, we rely on the audience’s imagination to create the “set” and to “piece out our imperfections.”
Costuming: Costuming was important to the theatre companies of Shakespeare’s day for three reasons. First, the frequently lavish costumes provided fresh color and design for the theatres. Second, costumes made it easy to use one actor in a variety of roles. Third, as they do now, costumes helped an audience “read” the play quickly by showing them at a glance who was rich or poor, royalty or peasantry, priest or cobbler, ready for bed or ready to party. Costumes are important to ASC in the same way. But costumes were NOT important to Shakespeare and his fellows as a way of showing what life used to be like in a particular historical period. They performed primarily in Elizabethan garb. For them, as well as for the The American Shakespeare Center, the play always spoke to the present. Sometimes ASC will use contemporary costumes, sometimes Elizabethan, and sometimes a mix of everything in between.
Music: Shakespeare had a sound tract. Above the stage, musicians played an assortment of string, wind, and percussion instruments before, during, and after the play. The plays are sprinkled with songs for which lyrics but not much of the music survive. ASC sets many of these songs in contemporary style. The result is emblematic of the approach: a commitment to Shakespeare’s text and to the mission of connecting that text to modern audiences.
Doubling: Shakespeare’s Macbeth has more than forty parts; Shakespeare’s traveling troupe may have had fewer than fifteen actors. With a troupe of fifteen or fewer actors, ASC doubles parts, with one actor playing as many as seven roles in a single show. The practice, which was customary in Shakespeare’s time, is called doubling.
Because women didn’t take to the English stage until after the Restoration (1660), all the women in Shakespeare’s plays were originally played by boys. Shakespeare had a great deal of fun with this convention. In a production of As You Like It in 1660, a boy would have played Rosalind, who disguises herself as a boy, then pretends to be a woman. Because The American Shakespeare Center is committed to the idea that Shakespeare is about everyone – male and female – ASC is not an all-male company, but they try to re-create some of the fun of gender confusions by casting women as men and men as women.