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Shakespeare and Company Actor Training

The Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company

Training A New Generation of Classical Actors

SEPTEMBER 8 – DECEMBER 14, 2014

The Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company is dedicated to training a new generation of classical actors in the skills required to master Shakespeare performance.

By integrating the full range of disciplines—from clown and fight to rhetoric and dance—in a rigorous thirteen-week program, the Conservatory prepares young actors to establish themselves and learn how to succeed as professional actors.

Each year thousands of auditions are held across the country for Shakespeare plays alone, and thousands more for contemporary productions. The Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company will help you turn those casting opportunities into jobs. The emphasis we place on the actor-audience relationship and the actor’s personal connection to the text provides powerful skills that will help you shine at auditions—and on stage.

Kristin Wold leads a movement class in the 2008 Conservatory. Photo: Danny Kurtz.

Fundamental Skills

The Conservatory is designed to immerse students in a comprehensive experience of Shakespeare performance. The curriculum and on-stage work teaches actors how to be instinctively free, intelligently impulsive, and physically dynamic through personal focus on voice, movement, and text.

The foundation of the work is the full progression of Linklater Voice, an approach to connecting language with breath and voice, taught by teachers trained and designated by Kristin Linklater.

To create a well-rounded classical actor, in addition to this bedrock of Linklater Voice, monologue and scene work, the Conservatory provides students with a solid foundation of work in the following disciplines:

  • Alexander Technique
  • Clown
  • Fight
  • the Art of Rhetoric
  • Elizabethan Dance
  • Shakespeare Scholarship

Similar to an MFA program, The Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company provides students with an opportunity to apply their training in a “real-world” experience with the rehearsal and public performance of a full-length play.

Opening New Worlds with Shakespeare & Company

Over the past thirty years, Shakespeare & Company has played a leadership role in the way Shakespeare is studied and performed in America. Indeed, when you Google “Shakespeare training” we are the number one hit. Google “Shakespeare performance” and we’re the top theatre company on the list.

Students in the Conservatory draw from thirty years of expertise with classes taught by top-tier faculty and Shakespeare & Company Master Teachers.

The 2008 Conservatory class performs Twelfth Night

Conservatory students will also participate in the annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare, a residency program that involves nearly 500 high school students in a language-based exploration of ten Shakespeare plays. By working with Fall Festival directors and students, Conservatory participants can gain a fresh perspective on their training through witnessing these young actors’ first encounters with Shakespeare’s words.

Conservatory students live and train at Shakespeare & Company’s campus in the culturally rich Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, surrounded by Company performance, training and education artists—and the opportunity to engage in dialogue about the performance and study of Shakespeare and its place in the contemporary theatre.

Alumni Response

I went from thinking ‘I want to be an actor’ to knowing ‘I am an actor’
-Teresa Spencer, alumna, 2007 Conservatory class 

Members of the 2007 Conservatory class share their experiences of the training in these video interviews:

Auditions and Admission

The 2014 Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company is limited to 16 students. The program begins September 8 and ends December 14 with the final performance of a selected Shakespeare play (December 12 & 13, 2014)–this year, Romeo and Juliet, co-directed by Tori Rhoades and Jason Asprey. The program lasts a total of 13 weeks.

Tuition for the Conservatory is $9,800. Alumni of the Month-Long Intensive or Summer Training Institute receive a 20% discount on tuition ($7,840), and union members receive a 15% discount ($8,330).

Admission to the Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company is by audition only. Applicants should submit a completed application (apply online) and an audition video. The video may be in DVD format or a YouTube link and should include two contrasting Shakespeare monologues and a brief personal statement. The monologues should be approximately one minute each. The personal statement should be about 60 seconds and should consist of a description of why you are interested in participating in The Conservatory. Contact the Training Department with any questions.