Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shakespeare Superheroes need your help!

Do you have surplus craft supplies, fabric, trim, kids scissors, tempura paint, scrapbooking supplies, card stock, stamp kits, any crafty type materials at all that are taking up space in your storage areas, garage or closet?  Would you love to donate them to a worthy cause? Then the Tavern Education Department would love to take those items off your hands!!!

Every year Shakespeare Superheroes Summer Camp (for kids 4 years to 14 years) needs craft supplies- lots of them- to create the props, sets, costumes, flowers, cauldrons, masks or fairy wings we make as part of a well rounded and artistic two-week camp experience.

Just bring your bagged or boxed items to an evening show (or drop them off during business hours) and leave them, along with your name and email, in the box in the upper lobby.  We will email you a receipt for your estimated value of the items, along with a picture of the adorable crafts the kids will be making
 Submitted by Amanda Lindsey McDonald in Education

Monday, June 29, 2015

Atlanta Shakespeare Company awarded National Endowment for the Arts/ Arts Midwest Grant!

Atlanta Shakespeare company awarded National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest
Grant will bring professional performances to schools and students across the state!

The National Endowment of the Arts and ArtsShakespeare in American Communities.  This will mark the thirteenth year that Shakespeare in American Communities and The National Endowment for the Arts have provided this grant.
Midwest will disperse $1 million in grants to 40 nonprofit professional companies across the nation, including The Atlanta Shakespeare Company (ASC) this coming year. This grant will allow companies to perform William Shakespeare’s work for students this coming year through

 In a press release from Arts Midwest, Susan Chandler, Vice President of Arts Midwest, states “Shakespeare in American Communities’ goals of introducing students to the art form of theatre and to Shakespeare’s timeless themes of love, ambition, jealousy, courage and betrayal will be brilliantly executed by these theaters.”

Through this grant, the Atlanta Shakespeare Company will present productions of Shakespeare’s work to at least 10 schools /2500 students along with workshops before and question and answer sessions after the performances.  Shakespeare in American Communities provides an introduction to William Shakespeare’s work to middle and high school students in a way that was simply not possible before.  With this grant, ASC will be touring their production of Romeo and Juliet Abridged to schools across the state of Georgia with special outreach to rural counties with little or no access to professional theatre performances. This past year, the production reached over 1100 students in metro Atlanta and NE Georgia and neighboring states.

Arts Midwest and the National Endowment for the Arts have created a website to provide more information for Shakespeare in American Communities. 

About Arts Midwest Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit

About the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse The Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s Education programs provide opportunities for students, educators and parents throughout Georgia and the Southeast to experience the power of Shakespeare’s language and dramatic vision through the play, passion, poetry, active participation and performance using dynamic, language based methods.  ASC Education serves students from K-12 grades in 54 Georgia counties and six southern states with matinees in Atlanta, touring productions, workshops, residencies and other classroom programs as well as offering professional training to emerging artists at The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. The Tavern is Atlanta’s only professional Equity theatre company producing the works of William Shakespeare and select classic modern plays throughout the year, in an Elizabethan Globe-inspired playhouse on Peachtree St. in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  This past year ASC/The Tavern reached a total of over 20,000 students and 30,000 adults.
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If you would like more information please contact Laura Cole by email at and visit

Submitted by Amanda Lindsey McDonald in Education

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Summer at the ASC

ASC Intern Blog Post

            It amazes me that I’m sitting back at home after finishing the internship I’ve been preparing for since last December. My relationship with the Atlanta Shakespeare Company began on a drive home from holiday festivities at my grandfather’s house when my older sister asked me what my plans were for the coming summer. I had none. But I knew I wanted to find a summer position teaching or working with a theater company, and after a quick search on her iPhone my sister found an opportunity that afforded both experiences. Best of all, the opportunity was at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. As a member of the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, I knew this would be the place for me. I was fortunate enough that the people at the ASC thought so too (perhaps because I had to do my Skype interview in costume for a performance due to scheduling constraints). I was eating sushi with my sister a few weeks later when I got the email that I’d been offered the internship in the ASC’s education department. I knew I’d been afforded an incredible opportunity, but only time would show me what a watershed moment this summer would be.
            My first month at the ASC was spent in the education office learning the ropes of administration. I was truly impressed by the efforts my supervisors made to ensure my fellow interns and I were exposed to all aspects of life in the company, giving the perspective and range of skills necessary for young professionals in an artistic field. We observed rehearsals, learned the computer program used for box office transactions, and practiced writing grant proposals. My favorite project was writing a study guide for a lesson on A Midsummer Night’s Dream that the ASC will bring to elementary schools next year. But in the midst of organizing lesson plans and costume closets, there was still time for play during text classes. These workshops were a chance for us interns to work with ASC teaching artists on monologues and scenes that we eventually presented in a mock audition and a final performance the last night of our internship. In addition, we were offered advice on headshots, resumes and cover letters. The ASC was truly invested in our development as young professionals and as artists, and I’ve come away from it with a clearer idea of what it means to be in a company and what I can do to contribute to the people and the work there.

            If the administrative portion of my internship revealed how I go about a career in the arts, my time assisting the Shakespeare Intensive for Teens program reminded me why I’m pursuing a future in theater. The passion of these students was overwhelming, something I recognized from when I was younger.  I now had an opportunity to help them cultivate their talent and creativity as others have helped me.  One afternoon my administrative duties brought me into the SIT students’ rehearsal of Hamlet. I’ll never forget standing transfixed as these high-schoolers performed a glorious arrangement of “Come Away Death,” a poignant beginning to a remarkable production. It was a glimpse of what awaited me during the second half of my internship, which I would spend working with the next group of SIT students on a production of Othello. My students were smart, hardworking, and delightful to watch on stage. They were exceptionally open and honest with their thoughts and feelings, whether handling an emotionally challenging scene during rehearsal or sharing their opinions on Weird Al Yankovic over lunch. Almost instantaneously, I felt connected to each of these young actors. Barriers of self-consciousness broke down and we all were our freest selves. Our best selves. Through the collective endeavor of storytelling, we learned and shared for four short weeks. It was an inspiring, joyful, humbling experience. All too soon, Othello was over and I prepared to head home for the remainder of my summer. My last day at the theater, I found myself lingering in the green room backstage, not wanting to leave. I realized what a home I’d found at the ASC. Though parting is such sweet sorrow, I’m thankful for my summer at the ASC and go forward confident in my path as an actress and teaching artist. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

“…Go not till I set you up a glass”: An Intern’s Reflection

What a whirlwind of a month! After our final SIT performance of Hamlet last night and thinking all the way back to orientation and seeing The Comedy of Errors during our first night together, it is truly overwhelming to think of all that has occurred in between. I met one of the most unique, humble, and cohesive casts I have ever worked with, worked alongside truly wonderful and passionate artists, and felt a new level of personal growth and satisfaction that I do not believe I would have achieved if I had chosen to spend my summer working at any other theatre.
Our first day began with our check-in process, a way we would begin and end each camp day that helped to establish a judgment-free, safe and open environment that was less about the rest of the cast hearing about each other’s feelings and more of giving each student a chance to self-discover and sort through what they were bringing in and leaving with each day. I struggled with this process for a few reasons. To begin with, in this day and age, with how bombarded I judge most of us are with all manner of stimuli and responsibilities, I know that I find it difficult to find time to be with just me, in a quiet space, and reflect on how I’m doing that day and how what has happened to me that day has affected me. I also struggled with wanting to be the perfect role model for the students and what that meant to me, which turned out to be that I felt I had to simply claim to be happy all of the time and then I was done. And I wasn’t being dishonest; I am usually quite an optimistic, hopeful, and content person. However, I also needed to recognize that I’m human, struggle and go through hard times too, but more importantly, I had to realize that it was okay for these kids to see that too. It would give them permission to also open up and admit that they weren’t always a bright and bubbly, box-stepping and jazz-handing theatre student. By the end of the month, and definitely for our final check-in (during which I was able to remain relatively dry-eyed until it was the directors’ turns), I was a lot more comfortable with admitting to how I felt, honestly, and expecting nothing more than a listening ear in return.
I almost just began to recall ‘the most challenging part of the past month was…,’ but truthfully, ‘challenge’ tends to have more of a negative connotation, I judge, than what I’d like to convey about a particular part of the camp. I was invited at the beginning of the month to consider what sort of class I might like to teach the students. I had a whole plethora of ideas and had no idea how to narrow it down to one concentrated class. So I didn’t. I observed that we were spending a lot of (extremely valuable) time working text, whether it was from the show or not, and thinking about choices, relationships, motives, tactics, etc. I decided it would also be beneficial for the students to expand on those concepts by working on how best to convey them on the stage, by way of projecting one’s voice, hitting the consonants that would help communicate emotion, letting the sound of the vowels resonate throughout one’s body, breathing correctly, releasing tension in one’s body, and furthermore, exploring different ways one’s body can move. I consulted one of my acting professors from DeSales University to brush up on my Linklater technique and she guided me through some breathing, neutralizing, and vocal exercises. I also consulted my notes from a movement class taken a few years ago that focused on a fun and explorative animal exercise. Finally, after having taken three years of classes in Zumba at college and absolutely adoring it, I put together a few of my favorite routines for a short dance/exercise session. I had an absolute blast sharing this particular passion with the students and was so excited when a few of them would request songs or even ordered their own Zumba workout kits. I also did my best to reinforce the Linklater technique with a fun lyric-inspired exercise we did a few times per week. I mostly just wanted to get the students up and moving and experiencing the text they were working with as much as they were thinking about and analyzing it. Based on the moving and committed performances given by all, the feedback from my directors, and the hint of self-satisfaction I had, I would like to think the class was a success.
Working with the other directors was also an absolute blast. I had taken a directing class at school and while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue at great lengths. However, working alongside my set of directors this summer and sitting in the metaphorical passenger seat of the directing process, I was able to step back and see how I could apply the ‘directing by asking questions’ technique to my own acting experiences. This technique, I judged, gave the students permission to make bold choices, explore on their own, and sometimes come up with something original that perhaps wasn’t in the director’s initial blocking or notes. Based on these observations, I predict that I will better be able to challenge myself during my own performance work and not be afraid to “just try it!”
My time spent with the SIT students and directors this June was certainly an experience that has had one of the most memorable impacts on me so far. I respected and learned from every single person I had the pleasure to work with and it is so hard to accept that few of us may see each other again in the near future. Yet one thing that will connect us all, no matter where life takes us, is this single lesson that I hope we will all continue to carry close to our hearts: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

-Emily Wisniewski

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remembering the Magic: An Intern’s View of Shakespeare Superheroes Camp

My name is Katy Hiott, and I am a rising senior Theatre major at North Greenville University in South Carolina. I grew up participating in many theatre camps and was able to experience the magic of theatre as a young child. As I began a more in-depth study of theatre, I knew I wanted to give back and offer children a chance to fall in love with theatre, just as many people had invested in my love of theatre as a young girl. This created a desire in me to teach theatre and the magic it brings. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company Education Department has given me a chance to do just that!

This summer, I am an intern for the Shakespeare Superheroes camps for kids ages seven to fifteen. I just finished my first camp of the summer. I loved it! Before camp began, I was a bit nervous about teaching. I knew my responsibilities included assisting with directing and choreographing a performance at the end of camp, as well as helping lead games and other activities. However, I didn’t know how the kids would respond to me or if they would be able to grasp the poetic language found in Shakespeare’s play. My doubts quickly disappeared—these kids absolutely blew me away. Although they enjoyed playing games and getting to know one another, I was surprised by how smart and dedicated they were to performing. On breaks, they often practiced lines or music for the performance. Several students even had their monologues memorized the day after they received their scripts. Their focused dedication and commitment to the show was evident. Most of all, I was impressed by the imagination of these children. Not bound to the pressing conformity of the world, Shakespeare’s works came alive in fresh and creative ways through their interpretation of the script. Was their interpretation completely accurate in meaning? No, but the kids put their heart and souls into the performance and their hard work clearly showed. The two weeks weren’t without struggles and hardships, but everyone pushed through and created an entertaining (and hilarious, I might add) piece of theatre.

My favorite moment from camp took place on the day before the performance. During a rehearsal, the kids began to gasp after every line during one of the scenes after being prompted to be as over the top as they could possibly be. They acted as if a big secret was being revealed as each line was spoken. As the students became more engrossed in the scene, the more captivating they became to watch. Eventually, their characters became bolder and bolder. The students, even the ones who were very shy, came bursting out of their shells. As I watched the students laughing at how silly they were being and how much fun they were having bringing Shakespeare to life, my mind was reawakened to how magical theatre can be. I can’t help but think that it’s one of the most beautiful memories I’ll have of the summer.

One of the most excellent benefits about theatre is experiencing the freedom and the excitement that accompanies exploring worlds different from your own. Watching these students giggle, make new friends, learn the basics of theatre, experience struggles and successes in learning and understanding two of Shakespeare’s works, and come together to create a show for their families and friends was truly a revitalizing experience. These kids reminded me that a playful and open attitude can transform the way I view and participate in theatre. They reawakened my imagination and reminded me of the magical world of theatre I grew to love as a young girl. I am truly grateful for these kids and the opportunity the Shakespeare Tavern has given me to invest through teaching. I look forward to round two of camp in July!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Behind The Scene: Music for Emilia

With Othello opening on Friday, we thought we'd give you an inside look into the production. We asked our own Kati Grace Brown, who is playing Emilia in this production, to share with us a bit of her process in preparing to step on stage. Here's what she had to say:

Using music to mentally prepare for a performance is not a new idea- I actually stole it specifically from Kelly Criss Felten when I had the pleasure of sharing a dressing room with her in The Tempest in 2009 when she performed the role of Miranda for a week. Kelly is an actress whose work I have admired since before becoming an apprentice in 2007, so when I saw her listening to a playlist on her iPod that she had specifically created for that role (I believe “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid was on there… J) I really wanted to try it out for myself. It has turned out to be an incredibly useful tool for me, particularly when I am cast as characters that I judge to be very different from myself. Naturally I am very silly and not inclined towards stillness or calm of any kind. Backstage of Twelfth Night, for instance, I could frequently be seen laughing maniacally at the monitor (at jokes I’ve heard a hundred times by this point), throwing my shoes at people or climbing into the bottom shelf of the props cabinet (a feat that I am particularly proud of.. just don’t tell Cindy). Something about the rehearsal process of Othello, however, leads me to believe that I am going to have to stay a little more somber during the run of this show- especially since there are four apprentices in the cast who deserve a better “good example” than being pelted with a Grecian sandal. So I’ve chosen songs not always based on their lyrics (though sometimes I am struck by how perfectly a lyric from the 2000s can resonate with my character from the 1600s) but by the mood of the piece and the emotional response that I have when I hear them. The cover of “Somebody That I Used to Know” actually came on while I was at yoga class last week, and I could not get it out of my head when thinking about the frustration and the depth of sadness that Emilia feels as her marriage disintegrates around her for reasons that she doesn’t know much less understand. “Better in Time” by Leona Lewis captures the core belief that Emilia holds every time she interacts with Iago that, “maybe this time it will be different.” Spolier: it really never is, at least if we’re defining “different” as “better.” Our director, Laura Cole, has worked with me a lot in previous roles (Sylvia in Two Gents and Miranda in Tempest) of cultivating “beautiful stillness” in my approach to movement onstage, so a few songs are geared towards eliciting that feeling: “Cathedrals” by Jump Little Children and “Mad World” from the Donnie Darko soundtrack. There’s no rhyme or reason to the order of the songs- I just put the list on shuffle when I start getting ready, skipping anything that might not speak to me at that particular moment. Additionally, I also spent some time putting together a post-show dance party mix for the ladies’ dressing room that I’m looking forward to unveiling after the Preview Thursday! Because, let’s be real, if any ladies in Shakespeare deserve some silly dances moves and a drink or two, it’s Desdemona, Bianca and Emilia.

And here's her playlist:

Crimes by Damien Rice

Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars

Maybe I Like it This Way by Lisa Ostrow

Mad World by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri

Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap

The Girl in the Other Room by Diana Krall

Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine

Better in Time by Leona Lewis

Addicted by Kelly Clarkson

Freewheel by Duke Special

Bruised by Ben Folds Five

Closer by Joshua Radin

Cathedrals by Jump Little Children

#1 Crush by Garbage

Somebody That I Used to Know by Madilyn Bailey & Jake Coco

From Kati Grace and everyone at the ASC: Thank you! And we hope to see you at the tavern!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Directing Othello: A Few Thoughts from Laura Cole

The beginning of the fall season here at the Tavern is always an exhilarating time, but particularly for the staff in our Education Department which, of course, is my home base. With school being back in session and educators looking to us to bring Shakespeare to their classroom, things around here are about to get delightfully chaotic (hey, we’re artists: we thrive on organized chaos!). Each fall is another chance to be better educators, better mentors and better guides for our students, and we are ready to embrace the challenge. It really is a job like no other: once you see a young person discover the power of Shakespeare’s language for the first time, believe me, it’s hard not to be hooked.

However, this fall I also have the distinct pleasure (and challenge) of directing Othello for the first time as a part of our Evolution Series. For those of you who don’t know, the Evolution Series is a multi-year project in which the ASC will produce all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and histories in roughly the order in which they were written. This kind of project is an educational journey for the company and the audience—just one more way that we at the Tavern are actively finding new ways to inspire and engage our patrons. Also, it hasn’t been done before, at least to my knowledge. And that’s just cool.

On a personal note, it also happens to be my favorite. Don’t tell the other plays, okay?

Othello, of course, fits into the tragedy segment of the Evolution Series (if you are hoping for some light laughs, this ain’t it.) Along with King Lear, Macbeth (both coming later this season) and Hamlet, Othello is considered one of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. Othello, however, is unique in the scope of its plot. Unlike the other three, many critics consider Othello a “tragedy of character.” This is not a play about affairs of state or the line to the throne. This is a domestic story, a personal tale about the inner workings of a man and a marriage. The story itself is highly structured: there are few sub plots, if any. Each incident in this play is directly linked to the ever-increasing fears of Othello and the evil machinations of Iago. All roads lead to Rome. (Or in this case, Venice.) Shakespeare does not allow us to veer off course: Othello’s trajectory is set and all we can do is hold on tight as our hero descends into deeper and deeper dismay. I’ve tried to capture that dynamic (the hurdling-like-a-freight-train-to-its-ultimate-conclusion kind of dynamic) in my staging of the play.

And, of course, there is Iago. More so than Lear’s daughters, or Claudius or Lady Macbeth, Iago is a villain of unparalleled evil. He is positively diabolical and, for the audience, deliciously so. His closeness to Othello, and his dubious reasons for deceiving the man he calls “friend,” makes the tragedy all the more compelling. Perhaps the best word to describe this play is: intimate. And witnessing it as an audience member is both unnerving and exhilarating. I believe it may be the most painful of all the tragedies, for the green eyed monster is never far from any of us, is he?

The ASC is very fortunate to welcome back Victor Love to tackle this hefty role. You may recognize him as Caesar from last season’s production of Julius Caesar. If you didn’t catch that, then perhaps you recognize him from one of the hundred of credits on his resume (see below for a taste of what he’s accomplished.) He is an amazing actor, and will surely make my job as a director look EASY!

Mr. Love has accumulated an impressive body of work throughout his long career, with roles in television, film and theatre. Some of his past credits in film/TV include: Bigger Thomas in Native Son, Hank in The Hank Gathers Story, Miami Vice, Different World, Batman Returns, LA Law, Will and Grace, Gang Related, HBO’S Spawn and The West Wing. He has even been the voice of a few really cool cartoon characters. He was in the cast of A Few Good Men on Broadway and his regional credits include: Camino Real at The Shakespeare Theatre, DC, Richard II at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Black at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Playboy of the West Indies at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, Public Ghosts: Private Stories at the George Street Playhouse and Cymbeline at the Arena Stage, Washington, DC.

You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from this play and the captivating actor in the title role. It’s a big, heartbreaking, epic web of a story that you can’t help but enjoy watching unravel.

See you at the theatre!

Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training