What is ASCTC?
The American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp (ASCTC) is an immersive, intensive, residential experience for students. Campers work with each other and with ASC actors, professional directors, and renowned scholars to study the world of Shakespeare’s stagecraft in detail while learning about text, technology, and themselves. Each ASCTC session culminates with campers strutting and fretting the boards of the Blackfriars Playhouse stage in one-hour versions of early modern plays.

This is the only place where I can study Shakespeare in the light I want to and with other students who have the same love.

– 2016 Camper

Where is ASCTC?
The American Shakespeare Center is in Staunton, Virginia — in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. ASCTC likewise lives in downtown Staunton, with campers living in a Mary Baldwin University dormitory. They eat in the dining hall, rehearse in the University’s theatre (among other places), and attend lectures, classes, and workshops across campus. They make frequent trips to the nearby Blackfriars Playhouse (a few blocks from the dorm) to attend ASC performances and rehearse their own shows.

When is ASCTC?
ASCTC takes place over two three-week sessions every summer, with the Extended Experience Week taking place in the week between sessions.

Summer 2018 Session Dates
Session 1: June 17 – July 8
Extended Experience Week: July 8 – July 14
Session 2: July 14 – August 4

How much does ASCTC cost?
Tuition is $3625 a session. Tuition covers everything for the three weeks following a camper’s arrival at orientation — room and board, transportation in and around Staunton, any costs associated with camp activities (field trips as well as tickets to all ASC show performances), camp t-shirts, and professionally edited DVDs and digital downloads of the session’s Final Performance Festival).

We have some scholarship opportunities, and financial aid is available for qualifying accepted campers. Find out more about tuition payment options and financial aid in the Financial FAQ section.

It will literally be the best three weeks of your life. You’ll make lifelong friends, meet amazing people, and learn so much more than a school can teach you. – 2016 Camper


What are the living arrangements?
Campers live on the Mary Baldwin campus in the University’s newest dormitory building (built in 2002), the PEG Center. During the school year, the students enrolled in MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted live in “PEG”, which was built in 2002. Air conditioning and wireless internet are just a couple of the amenities offered. Our Residential & Directing Assistants (RDAs) also live in the dorms in order to provide 24/7 in-house supervision and assistance. The dorm is on the edge of campus bordering downtown Staunton – just two blocks from the Blackfriars Playhouse. The dining hall, rehearsal, and workshop spaces are all on MBU’s walkable campus (steep hills build strong calves).

The Mary Baldwin dorms are some of the nicest I’ve seen. – 2016 Camper

How many campers room together in a dorm?
Dorm rooms are double occupancy, but some rooms house up to three campers. Each room is equipped with twin beds and desks. You must provide your own bedding, pillows, sheets, towels, etc. You are welcome to decorate your room with posters or pictures, but must use double sided tape as opposed to thumb tacks.

I loved the actual dorm and my roommate was awesome. – 2016 Camper

Are there bathrooms in each dorm room?
There are two community showers and toilets on each floor, each serving approximately 10 campers. We also separate by gender with campers identifying as male rooming on one floor with male RDAs, and campers identifying as female on a different floor with female RDAs. Living arrangements for campers who identify outside of the gender binary are decided in conversation with the camper, their family, and camp staff.

What outdoor or exercise facilities are available to campers?
Mary Baldwin University is located on 54 acres, with large field, varied outdoor spaces along with tennis courts made available to the ASC Theatre Camp. The MBU campus is on a large hill, and we tend to keep campers fairly busy moving from place to place throughout the day; a certain amount of outdoor physical activity is thereby guaranteed. Additionally, depending on interest, RDAs usually organize a morning running group led by one of our counselors.

I loved living on the campus. Everything about it was fantastic and it really felt like home. The food was also great and there were gluten free options, which was an extreme relief. – 2016 Camper

What is the food like at Mary Baldwin University?
Hunt Dining Hall provides a variety of nutritious options for every meal. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are always available (along with the salad bar and cereal station). Picky eaters may not always love the options available on a given day, but eating well when eating in a dining hall is valuable practice for making healthy decisions about food in college. We allow campers to check out for meals (with family or in groups) and explore the many affordable dining options in downtown Staunton, which happens to be crammed with cafes, pizza joints, sandwich shops, and other lunch spots; not to mention our fabulous Farmer’s Market, a block from the Playhouse every Wednesday and Saturday morning.

What is the security like at Mary Baldwin?
Like all residential colleges, Mary Baldwin has on-campus security. In addition, our very capable counseling staff are with our teen campers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The PEG Center features an alarm system that ensures proper access. Counselors perform nightly “lights out” checks, as well as, give morning “wake-up” calls to make certain everyone is safe.

What is the ratio of adult supervisors to campers?
Between our hands-on administrative staff, show directors, RDAs, production interns, and master class teachers, the ratio is about 1 adult to every 4 campers.


Will I be cast in one show or all three?
Each ASC Theatre Camp participant is cast in only one of the three shows we have slated for each Session. You might receive one role or several depending on the demands of the play.

I felt a lot better about the audition than I was expecting to — I thought I would be terrible, and then I wasn’t! Part of it was probably the collaborative, more personal nature, rather than just “stand in a line, say your piece, and shut up.” – 2016 Camper

Are there auditions for the plays?
Yes, we do indeed conduct auditions on the first full day of camp. Auditions are a combination of traditional monologue performance and collaborative improvisational techniques which simply require a willingness to play and creative choices in the moment. All administrative staff, show directors, RDAs, and production interns are present for these auditions. Staff sits down to hammer out casting immediately afterwards, while campers take their introductory voice and movement workshop. We usually post cast lists and distribute scripts before dinner that same day, so campers can begin familiarizing themselves with their parts before the first rehearsal.

Hunt was not sparkling clean but it was a good place to work. The trudge up to Deming was hard but the building made it worthwhile. – 2016 Camper

Where do we rehearse?
Each cast has a designated space on campus where the majority of their rehearsals will take place, including Deming Hall (MBU’s black box theatre space). In the past we have used rooms in Grafton Library and the ballroom in Hunt as rehearsal spaces, but we are always on the lookout for other options that may be more comfortable, less crowded, and more conducive to creating theatre. In addition to these spaces, each cast will have several opportunities to rehearse in the Blackfriars Playhouse – approximately 8 hours per cast, including the final late-night dress rehearsals.

How often do we rehearse?
Rehearsals take place 6 days a week and are scheduled in 3-4 hour blocks. You are encouraged to schedule meetings with directors, RDAs, production interns, or camp administrative staff for extra help with line-learning and/or scene/monologue coaching. Every member of our experienced staff considers working with campers on their parts a big highlight of their job at camp – and the camp administrative staff in particular would relish any opportunity to work with students instead of spreadsheets. Seriously.

My director was awesome and my cast was super willing to work hard. Every rehearsal was super productive. Also rehearsals are just so fun in general! – 2016 Camper

Where does ASC Theatre Camp perform their final shows?
On the final day of camp, we take over the Blackfriars Playhouse for the afternoon in order to perform all three plays one right after the other. We finish the day with a quick strike at the Blackfriars and then a big celebratory picnic with parents and friends on the grounds of Mary Baldwin.

The late night dress rehearsals were pure magic. Everything was dark outside, and then you enter this legendary space where you have seen fantastical performances put on, and you are acting on that very same stage. It is pure magic. – 2016 Camper


We’ve put together an entire packing list for your convenience, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions. Below are descriptions or details of some frequently asked about items.

Click here for the full ASCTC 2018 Packing List.

Please go, but pack lots of black! – 2016 Camper

Base Costumes
Costuming at the ASC Theatre Camp usually consists of character indicators added to a black or neutral base costume. We ask all campers to pack plenty of black clothes with this in mind, including black shoes (sneakers or dress shoes).

Whether it is for the plays, masquerade dance, or pre-show entertainment sketches, we encourage everyone to bring some favorite funky pieces of clothing that show a sense of character. It could be anything from a cool hat to a dramatic dress, but most of all it should be something you think looks interesting from an audience’s perspective.

Movement Clothes
Because we are a theatre camp everyone is required to wear clothes that allow for full physical movement without being too revealing in rehearsals and performances master classes. If you have a dance background feel free to bring jazz or character shoes, otherwise, bring sneakers. And don’t forget a swimsuit for our day at Sherando Lake!

We recommend that all campers bring a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. We recommend the Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus. Campers with reliable e-readers may also wish to consider a well-edited digital text such as the Folger’s online editions.

Musical Instruments
No matter your skill level we encourage everyone to bring a musical instrument of some sort. Shakespeare’s plays are full of music, sound, and fury – and the ASC’s trademark is to highlight all of it, both during, before and at the end of the plays.

I loved having a common passion with everyone. We’re all nerds and it’s fun! Most of the workshops were incredibly interesting and I learned so much about acting and Shakespeare, most of which I’ll use in performances this year! 10/10 I’m planning on coming back next year, unless some huge tragic accident accident happens, like I get mauled by a bear. – 2016 Camper