SHAKESPEARE IN THE VALLEY
(Regular Season: June 29th-August 6th, Hold-over: Aug. 10th-24th)
EXCITING NEWS FOR 2016: WORKSHOPPING A NEW, FULL-LENGTH MUSICAL!
All of our actors will have the rare opportunity to be invited into a workshop process (Aug 10-24th, after our regular season is completed) for a new full length musical we’re producing in partnership with an award-winning composer. The actors who participate will garner professional regional musical theater credit as well as being the first to play the roles and sing the music. Working closely with the creators of the show, their input will help shape the evolution of the piece. The NH Summer workshop offers actors a chance to “get in on the ground floor” in a progressive strategy of planned backer’s showcases, NYC performances, festivals and professional theatrical productions in 2016-2017.
WHO WE ARE: An outdoor classical summer repertory company, our aim is to put the “shake” back in Shakespeare! In the time-honored tradition of actor-led companies that was the norm in Shakespeare’s age, our staff gathers around them multi-talented performers to form a “lean, mean Shakespeare machine” that not only encourages audience participation, but provokes it! And, as New Hampshire’s ONLY low/no cost professional theatre troupe, we are a little theatre with a big heart. A unique blend of social consciousness paired with daring, muscular, passionate productions, our theatre has been awarded a Special Commendation from the Governor and featured in the NY Times, Boston Globe and countless other magazines and media outlets for its’ unique approach, with both our productions and individual actors awarded “best of the best” accolades.
WHAT WE DO: Our home theatre space is in the gorgeous 4 star Waterville Valley Resort, where our evening Main Stage shows are performed each week-end in alternating repertory on simple indoor and outdoor stages with little to distract from the power and force of Shakespeare’s words. We have also become one of New England’s busiest classical summer touring company—going out 4 nights a week to underserved parts of the state. To date, over 300,000 people have thrilled to our shows!
OUR SEASON: We are unique…and so is our casting process! Because “Ensemble” is so important to us, we do not choose the actors to fit the shows, we choose the shows to fit the actors. All actors and staff go to contract with a guarantee of principal Main Stage roles but with no shows listed. Once we have the cast assembled, we then see what show is most appropriate to suit the skills, experience, training and unique personality blends and energies of the ensemble.
OUR TWO PROFESSIONAL COMPANIES: We follow the practice of most Shakespeare theatres in casting “non-traditional”: We cast the right actor for the role, regardless of age, gender or “type”. Men play women, women play men, and “children” may actually be older than their “parents”! Our two companies are….
“SHAKESPERIMENT” BARD BOOTCAMP
June 11th - July 10th (Tentative)
An “emerging artists teaching company” like no other, this collaborative program is unique among its’ peers in the U.S. Company A Edusemble opens our Main Stage season and is responsible for two evening Main Stage shows. Our dense and intense “boot camp” immersion approach builds both your resume and your skill level. Inspired by their work with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and following many of the educational practices they honed there, the program creators’ made the curriculum demanding by design: Under the careful guidance of their Team Leader/Director, the pace, schedule and responsibilities placed upon actors are created to break down and eliminate bad habits then build them up into courageous and competent professionals able to take on anything that comes their way!! Rehearsals and performances are in a variety of rustic spaces which, combined with unpredictable New England weather, are inherently challenging. The key to the program’s success is placing actors in carefully supervised situations that force them out of their “comfort zone” and expedite swift growth and progress. No matter the level of maturity, skill, training or experience they bring to the program, all actors are FOREVER AND PROFOUNDLY CHANGED by being one of “the few, the proud, the lucky”…..Shakesperimenters!
Many of the Co A actors who have trained and performed with us have gone on to even greater things—Tony nominated Broadway shows, Obie-nominated off Broadway shows, tv and feature films, national voice over work, national tv commercials, Disney Cruise Lines, as well as being hired by the American Shakespeare Center, Shakespeare & Co., Utah, Oregon, Boston, Maine Stage, Maryland, North Carolina, Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Texas, Alabama, San Francisco, Chicago, Adirondack and Richmond Shakespeare Festivals, national tours and work with acclaimed regional theaters all across the U.S. as well as admission into prestigious intern & MFA programs such as the Public Theatre, Yale University, Shakespeare Theatre of D.C., Brooklyn College, U of T/Austin, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Florida’s Studio Theatre and abroad at Oxford, Cambridge, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Ireland’s Gaiety School of Acting (among others).
WHAT YOU’LL DO: For highly-motivated, disciplined, and serious actors only, this is a dense and intense “boot camp” approach that puts YOU in the spotlight and asks that YOU be accountable and responsible for your craft, learning and career. WARNING: The program is strenuous and demanding by design. The pace, schedule and responsibilities placed upon you were created to break down and eliminate bad habits then build you up into a lean, mean Shakespeare machine! Rehearsals and performances take place in a variety of rustic spaces and touring conditions (combined with unpredictable New England weather) are inherently challenging. The key to the program’s success is placing you in situations that force you out of your “comfort zone” and expedite swift growth and progress. No matter the level of maturity, skill, training or experience you have at the start of the summer, you’ll be FOREVER AND PROFOUNDLY CHANGED FOR THE BETTER at the end!
CASTING & SELECTION PROCESS: WHAT TO EXPECT: “SHAKESPERIMENT” is highly competitive. (In 2013, over 900 actors applied, with 200 auditions granted and 14 actors cast). We exclusively cast SHAKESPERIMENT at the Straw Hat auditions in NYC. Because we “pre-screen” from submissions prior to the auditions, granting time slots to people we are interested in already, we have a “rolling” contract process—which means, “we cast ‘em as we see ’em”. Not unlike many other companies, because ”ensemble” is the key to our approach, actors in BOTH companies are not assigned roles until AFTER the contract period has ended and all places have been filled. First and foremost, we want you to “check your ego at the door”--committing to being a part of the ensemble. Our limited cast sizes mean that everyone has about the same stage time and all get “moments to shine”. PLEASE NOTE: Travel to some of our tour performance sites and rehearsal spaces means that, although not necessary, we tend to favor actors with vehicles.
July 10th - August 10th
Features a small cast (no more than 8) of very experienced, versatile professional actors who can play “the hero and the zero” (in the same show) with additional teaching, backstage and staff responsibilities. We need entertainers who feel at home in front of any audience, anywhere, anytime under a variety of weather conditions. You’ll play multiples roles in evening Main Stage shows, do a Family Show matinee, be a part of Strolling Player improv troupe and teach a theatre camp class—all in the same week! Company B actors must be at least 24 years of age (or have gone through our Shakesperiment Program).
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN OUR COMPANIES:
1. Ability to perform outdoors: We perform and rehearse on our unsheltered outdoor stages, 9 hours (or more) often during daylight. It can be hot, buggy, windy, muggy with (sometimes) intermittent rain showers. We have an indoor theatre as a backup space in case of truly inclement weather, but we "go" as much as possible outdoors. We need actors with strong voices to carry over the wind and who won’t wilt in the sun/heat. As well, we need disciplined actors who can focus and not let airplanes, passing cars, barking dogs, music or yelling children distract them during rehearsal and performance.
2. Physical Fitness: We utilize the entire outdoor ampitheatre. That means actors have exits at one end and a very quick entrance at a completely opposite end—even from the woods! There is a lot of running around, climbing, jumping, hand-to-hand, pratfalls and sword play. Backstage there can be some lugging, moving and carrying of large items.
3. Ability to throw away the "4th wall": We perform in an interactive style—addressing the audience directly. As well, our audiences address us—they are encouraged to shout "huzzah" when they are happy, "boo" when they are not (all in good fun) and answer a question if asked. Our Family Shows are interactive in that we get audience members on stage acting with us.
4. Ability to perform ‘anywhere, any time, any condition”: We pride ourselves on our “run and gun” guerilla mentality. This means simple (or next to no) sets. A low, platform stage. No run crew. Little or no set pieces or props. No curtain or wings. Minimal lights. No sound enhancement. Nothing elaborate to hide behind or distract from the power of the words
5. Verbal agility: The biggest direction you’ll get is "PUTP, PUTP"! It means "Pick Up The Pace". Performed as Shakespeare intended, using his text as "clues" and his punctuation as a key to where (and how) to breathe. Our 2007 "Romeo and Juliet" truly was "two hours traffic on the stage" (actually it was more like 1 and 1/2 hours!).
6. Okay with abridged shows, early curtain: Okay with abridged shows, early curtain: For reasons having to do with all sorts of things, we abridge the shows to run in approximately 1 ¼-1 ½ hours including a 15 minute intermission. As well, we have early start times (4:30-6:30 depending upon the space), in order to better replicate authentic Renaissance conditions and to take advantage of as much natural daylight as possible.
7. Can work with Children and Dogs: We have children in at least one Main Stage show. Little eyes (and ears!) are everywhere. Actors who have scenes with the kids are asked to watch them backstage as well as watch out for and mentor them. We usually have at least one dog in one show and the actor who performs with it also watches out for it backstage. If you have an aversion to children or dogs, we may not be the place for you!
8. Diversity: We look for actors who can play/write/sing music a capella (unplugged /unaccompanied), tumblers, dancers, gymnasts, teachers, comedians, improv experts, who can sew their own hem, watch out for their props and perform some backstage tasks. We will use every part of your skills, talent and training. Have an unusual stage-worthy skill? Bring it on! We will (probably) find a place for it somewhere!!
9. Drivers: There is some driving. As well, rehearsals and housing are spread out over a 20 mile radius from the theatre. We look for actors who have cars, valid licenses and insurance. We try to insure that at least 50% of each Company has a car and those who do must agree to transport their colleagues who don't.
10. Well-equipped actors: Actors are expected to provide their own make-up (including special character pieces like aging make-up or mustaches/beards) and rehearsal shoes. For rehearsals, women (or men playing women) must have floor length rehearsal skirts and boned corsets. Actors are encouraged to bring any footwear, wigs and Renaissance clothing items/weapons they have that may help the production (but don't worry--we do provide great costumes--check out our pics to see for yourself).
11. Good Attitude: We are a "lean, mean, Shakespearean machine" in every sense of the word. It is important that morale be kept up. Your personalities count more than your acting ability! One minute you’re mopping up the dressing room, the next starring in "Romeo and Juliet"! Everyone does everything.
12. Training that meshes with us: Although there is much more of an educational component in Company A than B, as part of each company’s rehearsal process, we devote time to our very popular "Bard Bootcamp". It features exercises designed to quickly orient everyone as to how we at TUTS/SITV approach character, text and scansion. There’ll also be an orientation, presentations from directors as per their "vision" for the shows and one-on-one meetings with the directors as per character work. Since our rehearsal time is so limited, the majority of rehearsals are blocking rehearsals. Actors are expected to take the blocking and do character work around it, on their own…so we look for actors who have had training that allows them to do so. The Bootcamp gives us all a chance to "play". In our Company, "the text is all" and we want everyone pulling in the same direction and speaking the same language from the get-go. The months leading up to your arrival in NH are where the “table work” occurs—through emails and phone calls with the directors. You will get your scripts with at least 6 weeks (usually more like 8-10) to learn your lines.
13. Okay with Production Work: All company members will also be assigned production duties that will, at times, be more important than the acting work. Duties include cleaning and setting up the theatre pre and post-performance, helping to set the lighting, working on costumes and props, teaching at our youth camps, etc. Everyone participates in strike.
14. Punctuality: Our motto: If you are not fifteen minutes early, then you are late. It takes time to prepare for a Shakespearean rehearsal (voice and physical warm up, getting into rehearsal clothes, weapons adjusted, etc) and we need the Company ready to take the stage exactly on time.
15. Respect, Maturity and Trust: We follow the Artist-Manager model. Therefore, the Artistic Director, director and other Company personnel are a part of the acting ensemble. Your "bosses" will have major roles in each of the productions, working alongside you as part of the ensemble--even as your romantic foil. We need actors with enough confidence, maturity and experience to trust, embrace and have fun with that.
16. Professionalism/Integrity: We perform "without a net" and have no understudies. We expect that if you sign a legally-binding contract and give your word to be with us, you’ll show up. No excuses. Therefore, the only excuse for a missed rehearsal is a death in the family. The only excuse for a missed performance is your own death. Because both companies comprise our Main Stage season, there are (possible) legal ramifications for actors that leave the Company after going to contract--even Company A, which is paying tuition. So think carefully before you sign on the dotted line.
17. Non-Smokers: WE ARE A NON-SMOKING COMPANY.
18. Flexibility in the Creative process/Rehearsal: We look for actors that “get it”...and are “quick studies”. Although slightly different for Company A, our truncated rehearsal time leaves very little room for exploration of the text while we are in NH. We put our Company B shows on their feet in approximately 6 days of rehearsal, with 1-2 dresses. How we are able to accomplish this is attributable to several factors: The actors arrive "performance ready" off-book and the director (who has a strong film/tv "time is money" background) has everything paper-blocked and a very strong vision of the show. But more importantly, by the time we arrive in NH, each actor has had phone consults with the director and been sent notes on the director's vision and choices for the shows, their characters and recommendations for other resources they could use in their research and preparation.
19. Understanding the Importance of Casting: If you cast the right actors, there is very little "work" that needs to be done. We spend an average of 6 hours a person in our casting process, with 30-50% of that in direct contact with the actor. We cast "true to self"--and by that we don't mean we trade in the usual Hollywood cliches. In past, a summer with us has helped many "character actors" find their inner "leading man/woman" (and vice-versa). If you are cast with us, be prepared to have one role that will be "a walk in the park" and one that will seem "off the wall" (and probably scare the s--t out of you.)
20. What we look for: That said, we have found that some actors "get" what we are about, surrender to our unique "non-process" process, embrace and revel in it while others struggle. Less experienced actors (those closest to their university days) or those coming from huge, long-established and well-endowed companies tend to have the most difficult time during NH rehearsals, while those who are older, have worked in a diversity of fields, or have dance, musical theatre, tv or British stage experience have the best time. If you are a "method" actor or one whose vision of "creative process" includes lengthy table work, large amounts of time devoted to exploring the "beats" and "finding your way" in rehearsal or who doesn't like to work from the outside (i.e. the blocking) in, then we are NOT the Company for you!!!
However, if you want to learn a different way of working, a way that helps you quickly "drop into" the immediate performance of a piece, want to add "another string to your bow" and think you might want to work in tv or film, then we ARE the company for you!!
FAQ About What We Offer:
Paid? Company A (”SHAKESPERIMENT”): No. Because it is a conservatory program with educational workshops, lectures and classes that carry additional costs to us, those performers are unpaid and pay tuition that defray the costs to run the program. Company B: Yes. Actors are paid a lump sum that is broken down into bi-monthly (i.e. “every 2 weeks”) payments. Fees range between $800-$1000 for the approximately 4 week period.
EMC? No. We are proudly a 100% non-Equity company and happy to offer the many, many excellent non-union artists out there a chance to showcase their myriad talents as well as a place to grow and flourish in their craft.
Housing Provided? Yes--FOR COMPANY A: Same sex shared hostel/dorm style bedroom, Unisex bath. Shared living and kitchen space which may also be shared with possible resident staff or housing host.) Furnished housing and basic utilities (water/heat/electric) in 3 towns within a 20 mile radius area surrounding the theatre. COMPANY B: Most housing is with host families-organizations. Actors can expect to have (same sex) roommates. All residences have access to shared living, bath and kitchen facilities within the residence. We have a limited number of places within walking distance of the theatre, as well as a select few for those with pet allergies. Some (especially the hypo-allergenic) will require a car.
Health Insurance? No. Since our paid actors are subcontractors, we do not offer health, workman’s comp or unemployment insurance. All actors must sign a waiver. COMPANY A actors must have proof of insurance to qualify for the program.
Meals? Not included. But we do host Company BBQ’s, parties and dinners. In NH, we are usually offered 50% discounts by a few of the Valley restaurants.
Roles? If you want to act you’re tush off and play a variety of roles in different venues, then you’ll be in “alternating rep heaven”: COMPANY A comprises the first half of our season, presenting 2 evening Main Stage shows and multiple Sugar-Coated Shakespeare Family Matinees. COMPANY B takes over mid-season to present 3 evening Main Stage shows and multiple Sugar-Coated Shakespeare Family Matinees. All perform on our indoor and outdoor stages at several different sites in the region.Teaching credentials? Yes. Actors conduct workshops with kids ages 5-16 at our Youth Theater Day Camp. As well, the kids are a part of one Main Stage show. ALL of our actors are expected to be positive role models and mentors to the young thespians among us all summer.
Anything else? Yes. Quality of life, resort area: You get to live in a gorgeous summer resort area surrounded by biking, downhill mountain biking, hiking, swimming, tennis and golf venues. In past, we've been able to get free passes to the local multi-million dollar sports and health complex (2 pools, steam rooms, weight machines, indoor tennis and raquetball, classes, etc).