American Shakespeare Center extends Actors’ Renaissance Season on BlkFrsTV
“We’re grateful to Actors’ Equity Association for an agreement that has allowed us to continue the four plays of the Actor’s Renaissance Season while we add two productions from our National Tour company’s season for a grand-total of six productions now playing on BlkFrsTV,” says Managing Director Amy Wratchford, “Whether it is our joyous Much Ado About Nothing, our epic Henry IV, Parts 1&2, the family-friendly A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or our searing Grapes of Wrath, there is something for every palate on our site.”
The Grapes of Wrath goes live today. The ASC National Tour’s timely and bold production of Frank Galati’s celebrated adaptation is directed by José Zayas in a spare interpretation that relies on the 11-member ensemble for versatile storytelling infused with music. John Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl masterpiece chronicling the westward migration of the Joad family, in desperate search of work, has new relevance as a parable for the current crisis.
“We are so proud of this particular production,” remarks Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny, “When we shot it live back in March, everyone on the team was struck not only by how well it filmed, but also how timely the story has become since it first hit the road on tour last September. ‘We Go On,’ an original song written by company-member Madeline Calais for the finale, is destined to become a new anthem for our times.”
BlkFrsTV, the company’s innovative digital platform, offers a combination of streaming shows, access to Education Resources, live-hosted digital classroom support for teachers, and open-enrollment classes for the public such as the 3-day Virtual SHXcademies every Thursday through Saturday, and the new ASC/Masterclass series — intimate, artist-led courses offering the chance for audiences to explore how actors prepare.
“If you have ever wanted to practice yoga with Jessika Williams while learning how she uses chakras to build a character like her upcoming Othello, or to cook like an actor with Zoe Speas, or find your voice on the virtual Blackfriars stage with Broadway’s Nancy Anderson, or pretend fight with a real pro like Benjamin Reed (perfect for siblings!), or compose music for Shakespeare’s lyrics with Chris Johnston (no prior song-writing experience required), or play dress up and learn about historic costumes with designer Hope Maddox, well this is your big chance,” explains McSweeny about the courses he has curated.
Open enrollment ends Saturday, April 25 and spaces are filling up fast. ASC also has weekend ASC/Masterclass sessions specifically crafted for teens — Discovery Space with education artist Aubrey Whitlock — and tweens — Virtual Drama Club with education artist Lia Wallace.
“BlkFrsTV is becoming a one-stop Shakespeare shop while we remain in necessary social isolation,” observes Wratchford, “No matter where you are physically, or where you are in your appreciation of Shakespeare, ASC has a way for you to share the joy.”
#ShakesBDay Virtual Block Party Livestream
ASC will celebrate the 456th birthday of their house playwright with a Facebook live stream broadcast on Saturday, April 25 from 2 pm to 5 pm, mixing together live and pre-recorded segments.
“While we can’t do our usual celebration this year, we are able to bring the fun online, and that allows us to invite everyone the world over!” explains Virtual SHXcademy teacher and event co-host Lia Wallace, “Our #ShakesBday Virtual Block Party will feature a horde of activities for the whole family, including ‘Ask-An-Actor’ live chats and join-us-at-home projects like ruff-making, cake baking, sing-alongs, and stage combat workshops.”
The #ShakesBday celebration begins at 2 pm with hosts Lia Wallace and Topher Embrey (Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Other guests will include Brandon Carter, Chris Johnston, Constance Swain and many more surprises!
More information about #ShakesBday is available on the American Shakespeare Center website.
View the ASC/Masterclass course catalog here.
Tickets to ASC’s streaming performances are on sale now! Get streaming tickets here.