Who would think that the Shakespearean center of the universe – in the USA – would be in the Shenandoah Valley? It is and it is fantastic!
The American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA attracts actors, theatre-goers, and scholars of “all things Shakespeare” every year – all through the year.
The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s Playhouse
10 S Market St.
Staunton VA 24401
When you visit the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, you must be a part of a performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Yes – be a part of a performance! This special theatre is designed and constructed just as theatres were built back in Elizabethan times. The sets on the stage are sparse. The lighting includes the audience. The audience is expected to react to the action on the stage. You (the audience) become part of the play and can influence how long the show may play on.
The theatre is the one and only re-creation of the first indoor theatre in England that was built on part of the Blackfriars Monastery in London – hence the name for the theatre here in VA. William Shakespeare and his colleagues built the original theatre. The local theatre was completed and opened in 2001 after considerable research was done for the design and construction. Tours of the theatre are available so you can actually go on stage and backstage to learn more about Shakespeare’s Theatre. Cost for the tour is just $7.00 per person and are done two times per day, five or six days per week.
Performances in the 300-seat theatre in Virginia have delighted audiences from around the world ever since opening night.
While the theatre is stunning, the performances themselves ring true to the style of Shakespeare’s time. The staging is simple. There may be only one or two pieces of furniture on stage with no set designs and no backdrops. There may be some music played by a small group seated above the stage. The audience uses the same light as the actors. So the actors see and react to the audience – just as it happened in Elizabethan England.
Their schedule through November 2015 includes four different plays from Shakespeare’s repertoire; check their website for the full performance schedule.
In December 2015 the resident troupe turns to some Holiday favorites including The Santaland Diaries and A Christmas Carol. But even these favorites are staged in a unique way so that the audience is again, right in the middle of all the fun.
Tickets can be purchased online for performances and for theatre tours. More about the educational component and the actors on stage can be found on the ASC Education page.
Photos used by permission from The American Shakespeare Center.