Shakespeare & Company operates year-round in the Berkshires, scheduling hundred of performances on two stages, scores of workshops, multiple lectures and demonstrations, and literally thousands of classes for professional and aspiring actors, teachers, and directors ranging in age from 8 to 80.
Our touring productions and training workshops also travel the country, but the bulk of the programming occurs at our 30-acre home located in the historic district of Lenox – a five-minute walk into town (with more than 50 inns, art galleries, restaurants, retail shops, and historic sites and hikes).
Our property was originally developed as four private parcels in the late 19th century by the well-heeled from New York and Boston. Today it retains acres of woodland, protected wetlands, rock outcroppings, and streams. The land has passed through a number of not-for-profit hands (including the prestigious Lenox Boys School), the result of which is now 16 buildings arrayed throughout the property.
We love to work and create in “found spaces,” and when we purchased the property in 2000 (transitioning from The Mount, just one mile down the road where we had rented Edith Wharton’s historic estate since 1978) one of the many attractions of the site was the architecture. This further encouraged us to start planning for our American Center for Shakespeare Performance and Learning. The famed architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White designed the signature entrance building on the site, St. Martin’s Hall, at the entrance to our grounds.
There is also architecture from the mid 20th century, most of which we use now: The Miller Administrative Office (once a library), Lawrence Hall (our 39-room dormitory, rehearsal hall, and dining room), the Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts (the former Berkshire Performing Arts Center – all 65,130 square feet of it, which used to be an ice hockey rink) for our expansive scenic, costume, properties, technical shops and the 200-seat Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. And Founders’ Theatre, a multi-million dollar renovation of singular scope, was originally a cement block gymnasium-turned-cabaret space. It is now one of the most exciting theatrical venues in the country, featuring a space within a space, inside a rough yet playful scaffold-and-canvas creation offering multiple seating configurations (currently in an arena format) on cushion-backed benches and movable chairs which place audiences on two levels and in the middle of the action of each scene. Founders’ also includes a lobby bar and rehearsal rooms.
Outside, down the Founders’ slope and sited behind St. Martin’s, is the tented Rose Footprint. This is where the world’s first historically accurate re-creation of the Rose Playhouse will be built, nestled within its own Elizabethan village. Read more about The Rose by clicking on the left-side menu.
We encourage you to walk the trails, to picnic on the meadow, in hidden dales — whether you’re seeing a show, taking a class, attending a workshop, hearing a lecture, or just passing through.
You’re welcome any time!