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Specialized Workshops

The Center for Actor Training offers a variety of specialized workshops throughout the year exploring a full range of disciplines including rhetoric, wit, clown, fight, voice, movement, public speaking and more!

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Playing Shakespeare: Voice, Text, Clown

This 6-day Workshop will propel actors into their imaginations, intellects and emotional lives. Experiencing the power and beauty of Shakespeare’s language and engaging with the text in deeper more meaningful ways.

This workshop will teach you to play once again with the heart, mind, and imagination of a giant. It will immerse you into the world of Shakespeare through an integration of voice, movement, clown, and scene work.

DATES: August 28 to September 2, 2018

SCHEDULE: 10:00am to 9:30pm each day

INSTRUCTORS: Jane Nichols and Dave Demke

TUITION: $1,000 USD (ask about our discounts!)

LOCATION: Shakespeare & Company campus in Lenox, MA

HOUSING: $35 per night single occupancy, $25 per night double occupancy

Previous Shakespeare training or experience is not a prerequisite to apply.

Morning Sessions will focus on freeing your voice and body in order to build new habits of emotional courage, unlimited imagination, and spontaneity. Over the 6 days, a progression of Linklater Voice work will take you from breath impulse, through the pleasure of vibration, and into the joy of speaking Shakespeare text. Movement work will take you on a journey from poised stillness to ecstatic physical expression. The movement work will free you from physical tension, and open pathways for breath and energy to fuel your creativity. Together the voice and movement work will help you achieve new creative heights, and make you capable of communicating, authentically, a wide range of human experience.

Afternoon Sessions will focus on using a free voice and body to unleash the full size of your imagination and humanity. We’ll begin with Games. We’ll run, shout, dance: we’ll play; fiercely, with conviction and abandon. From Games we’ll move into Comic Play, where you’ll come face-to-face with the Clown in you. Here you’ll play from all in you that is vulnerable, unknowing, simple, and full of truth and desire. This work reveals that if you’re breathing, playing, and following your impulses, one by one as they occur, you will encounter the magic, mystery, majesty, and absurdity that makes you uniquely you, and what makes being human so heartbreakingly funny and noble. Combined with the voice and movement work, the Clown will make you as large as Shakespeare needs you to be, and will bring you closer to the virtuosic shifts in thought and emotion that Shakespeare demands.

Evening Sessions will be spent on scene work, using short scenes from Shakespeare’s canon, where the skills and discoveries you are gaining from voice, movement, and clown work will be put into practice. The focus will be on using the structure of the verse to enlighten thought and intention, on speaking in order to move and on listening in order to be moved.

Shakespeare & Gender with Tina Packer - FULL (waitlist available)

Shakespeare’s passionate writing about gender and power structures are a revelation for our uncertain times. He not only defines the cruelty and prejudices of the binary structure, but offers same sex/opposite sex, gender fluid studies. Given that all parts were originally played by men, Shakespeare had a freedom to explore all levels of human relationships, and so today (as women especially are taking on the men’s roles) the political and personal nuances come forward for in-depth analysis and revelation.

The small number of female roles in Shakespeare's plays (around 149) to male (around 798) and some of no particular gender, reveal the ways in which the social and political structures of the world work. Out of this comes a frame to measure the influence of women and “others,” and Shakespeare's attitude towards them. What happens when the “warrior women” start negotiating? Does a woman disguised as a man have more power? How does the feminine intuitive side within all of us help us to know the truth? Who is Ariel? Who is Thersites? What happens when we adopt a gender fluid, non-binary worldview, embracing our humanity above traditional gender roles?

Tina Packer is one of theater's leading experts on Shakespeare. She has directed most of the canon and acted in many of his plays and is the creator of the five-part theatrical exploration Women of Will. She has an inimitable style of engaging her listeners through discussion and performance to reveal the passion of the Elizabethan world to modern actors and audiences with insight, humor and dramatic force.

Every participant will arrive with two speeches, not of the same gender. We will work on them from many points of view and discuss how each manifests itself, both in the psyche and in the body.

DATES: August 31 to September 2, 2018


SCHEDULE: Friday, 6pm-10pm; Saturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday, 10am-5pm

LOCATION: Shakespeare & Company campus in Lenox, MA

HOUSING: $35 per night single occupancy, $25 per night double occupancy


Public Speaking Workshop



Learn to speak in front of any size audience and move them with your words.

  • Free your natural voice
  • Understand the basics of speech construction
  • Tap into your truth
  • Connect with and understand your audience
  • Focus your message
  • Persuade an audience of the validity of your message
  • Inspire your audience to act

This weekend is designed to meet your needs as activists, students, community organizers, business people, educators, and concerned citizens. This is a time of urgency to empower people to let their voice be heard and to move others to action!

Our goal is to improve your skills and confidence in connecting to an audience, delivering your message and moving your listeners.

The workshop includes knowledge gained from Shakespeare & Company’s experience of embodying the text of a great speech, and improving the alignment of the speaker’s personal voice to who they are as a person.

Each participant comes in with a message that is intended to move a certain audience to action. Throughout the workshop, you will have the opportunity to improve your message using the lessons learned from great speeches. You will taste the experience of speaking with “the whole of who you are” and learn tools you can use to further develop yourself and your message.

The workshop is open to all walks of life and is limited to 12 participants.

This workshop is a prerequisite for the optional Advanced Public Speaking Workshop.

DATES: September 21-23, 2018 (taught by Tina Packer and Dave Demke)

November 30-December 2, 2018 (taught by Tina Packer and Samuel Dinnar)

SCHEDULE: Friday, 6pm-10pm; Saturday, 10am-7pm; Sunday, 10am-2pm



This is an experiential group workshop; therefore participants must be present and fully available at all sessions, from start to finish.


Tina Packer is the founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company. She has directed, acted, and taught both Shakespeare and theater performance at Shakespeare & Company as well as at over thirty colleges around the globe including Harvard, MIT, Columbia and NYU. She is a social entrepreneur, actor, playwright, author and a recipient of the state of Massachusetts’s highest honor, the Commonwealth Award.

Samuel Dinnar is an instructor with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard, a mediator of business disputes and a Meedance consultant on business and entrepreneurship. He is also an actor, director and graduate of Shakespeare & Company’s education and professional actor trainings.

Dave Demke is a Shakespeare & Company Senior Faculty member and a Designated Linklater Voice teacher. He received his BA in Theatre Arts from Minnesota State University, and MFA in Performance from the University of Maryland. He has guest taught at various universities, at the Linklater Center in New York, at the National Theatre of Ghana, and continues to teach Shakespeare & Company workshops in cities around the country.


Dropping In Workshop

Learn Shakespeare & Company's signature dynamic and visceral rehearsal technique for connecting to the text.

An exercise created by Tina Packer and strongly influenced by her 14-year collaboration with Shakespeare & Company co-founder Kristin Linklater, “Dropping In” and its follow-up exercises of “Standing Up” and “Feeding In” allow the actor to connect to the atavistic depths of words.


  • Gain a working knowledge of Dropping In techniques
  • Experience the techniques as both actor and facilitator
  • Train to use Dropping In and to adapt it for their own rehearsal work

This workshop will be especially useful for actors or directors involved in the creation of High School, University, or Professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays.

DATES: October 26 to 28, 2018


SCHEDULE: Friday, 6pm-10pm; Saturday, 10am-7pm; Sunday, 10am-4pm

LOCATION: Shakespeare & Company campus in Lenox, MA

HOUSING: $35 per night single occupancy, $25 per night double occupancy

INSTRUCTORS: Tina Packer, Dennis Krausnick and other faculty members TDB

From the Alumni

Maura Matarese

Maura Matarese

I attend at least one workshop at Shakespeare & Company each year as it always allows me an opportunity to grow as actor, to continue to free my actor’s instrument, to meet exciting new artists from around the world, and to spend time in an environment I love, with a faculty whom I deeply respect. moreI attend at least one workshop at Shakespeare & Company each year as it always allows me an opportunity to grow as actor, to continue to free my actor’s instrument, to meet exciting new artists from around the world, and to spend time in an environment I love, with a faculty whom I deeply respect.


Shakespeare & Company is a professional live theatre company in the heart of the Berkshires, presenting a vibrant summer performance season featuring the works of Shakespeare in repertory with classic and contemporary plays. The Company offers one of the most extensive actor training programs by a regional theatre in the country, and is also home to an award-winning and nationally recognized theatre-in-education program.