Shakespeare & Company has announced The Conservatory at Shakespeare & Company's winter production of King John, directed by longtime Company artist, and star of this summer's critically acclaimed production of Cassandra Speaks, Tod Randolph. Now in its sixth year, the Conservatory, a 13-week professional actor training program includes 10 - 16 promising actors from across the country and around the globe. This year's program features a group of 16 who will join forces in Shakespeare's rarely produced King John for three special performances in the Tina Packer Playhouse.
Performances of King John will run in the Tina Packer Playhouse tonight, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. and December 15 at 1:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. Tickets are general admission, $16 for adults and $8 for students. The Tina Packer Playhouse is wheelchair accessible. For further information and to order tickets visit the website at www.Shakespeare.org or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353.
Shakespeare set King John in the early 13th century and compresses John's 17-year reign into a succession of tyrannical, bloody moments that begin with King Philip of France and the Duke of Austria threatening war and demanding that John's nephew, Arthur, is the rightful heir to the English throne. King John is filled with passionate speeches, soaring language, and thrilling battles, making it a perfect work for the Conservatory participants to sink their teeth into.
"King John is a play with wonderfully juicy acting parts, a great ensemble play, a difficult, challenging play for young actors, and an intriguing story about the dark and shifting currents of political opportunism," says director Tod Randolph. "England's feudal system of government was still prevalent in the late 13th century, and primogeniture as a legal practice had yet to be firmly established. How does political power pass from generation to generation? What does it mean to swear fealty? What are the obligations of a king to his subjects; to his nobles; to his land? How do leaders, and followers, balance the demands of power with the demands of conscience? And for these young actors and myself, how much fun can we have plunging headlong into this tangle of witty, ruthless, hungry, desperate and dangerous characters, to tell an unfamiliar story in the words of the world's greatest playwright?"
Similar in scope to an MFA program, the Conservatory trains actors in specialized techniques developed by Shakespeare & Company over its 35 year existence. Under the direction of long-time S&Co. artists and teachers, Conservatory actors take classes in Structure of the Verse, Shakespeare Scholarship, The First Folio, The Art of Rhetoric, Personal Connection, Linklater Voice Technique, Clown, Fight, Movement, and Elizabethan Dance. The Conservatory finishes with an exploration of Shakespeare's work in the Company's Tina Packer Playhouse, during which the participants utilize their newly-learned techniques for a live audience. Visit www.Shakespeare.org/training for Conservatory applications, and more information on all of our Training programs for students and teachers.
Over the past 35 years, Shakespeare & Company has had a profound impact on the way Shakespeare is performed in America. Company artists are encouraged to explore the actor/audience relationship, to discover a personal connection to the text, and to fully integrate their minds, bodies, and spirits in order to create an exhilarating theatrical event. "Central to the reason for these participants choice of this program is the Shakespeare & Company approach to actor training, with its emphasis on fully-embodied language in performance," says Director of Training Dennis Krausnick. "Participants will receive classes in audition technique and stage fight proficiency, and will be well-positioned to embark on their careers in professional theatre. The Conservatory has continued to evolve in each of the years we've offered it, and I have no doubt that this year it will surpass what has been achieved up until this point."