The CSC Apprentice Program is an intensive summer training program for young actors who are actively pursuing a career in theatre. This eight week training runs concurrently with CSC’s signature event, Free Shakespeare on the Common, founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Steve Maler and his vision that Shakespeare “belongs and should be accessible to everyone.”
The apprenticeship offers a robust Shakespearean performance focus through professionally directed productions held in and around Boston. CSC faculty support the work in the rehearsal room through classes in voice and text analysis. At the beginning of the program, we work with each apprentice to identify personal goals and track these together with faculty and staff throughout the summer. Apprentices will also bring their work and enthusiasm to audience engagement work on the Boston Common where they are an integral part of the production’s success.
2016 Apprentice Alumnus, 2017 CSC2 Company Member
“My experience as an apprentice is something I will cherish forever. Every moment, from the first day you go around meeting fellow apprentices and CSC2 members, to the day the program ends and you say your goodbyes, is a learning experience. The intense program pushes and builds you not only as an actor but as a person. Under the direction of the extremely talented and engaging teachers and directors we get to work with, I was able to engage with my peers in a fun, collaborative, safe, and non-judgmental environment. Through this program I was able to genuinely fall in love with the works of Shakespeare more and more. Overall, because of the Apprentice Program, I have grown drastically in my acting, as a person, but most importantly I formed bonds with a group of people that have left an imprint on my life. Thank you CSC!”
2016 Apprentice Alumna, Ensemble in The Boys from Syracuse on the Hatch Shell with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, 2016
“My time as an apprentice with CSC taught me about being open. Open hearted, open minded, open to adventure, discoveries, and failure. All of these were very scary concepts, especially with a group of strangers. That all changed after our first week when we took a leap of faith and fully committed to the program. With the support of our teachers, directors, CSC2 mentors and fellow apprentices, we all gained confidence in working on new and challenging material. There is no feeling in the world like having a family of 30+ people wanting you to succeed. During happy times, sad times and stressful ones, we were always there for each other. I am so thankful for my CSC family and the experiences I had with them. They truly helped change me for the better as an actor, as an artist and as a human being.”
2011 Apprentice Alumna; Cordelia in King Lear on the Boston Common, 2015
“My time as a CSC Apprentice was invaluable. Before the program, I had never studied Shakespeare, and I was terrified of performing it! Through the program, I received so much knowledge of Shakespeare that made me fall completely in love with his work, and the classes, led by incredible teachers, gave me the confidence and skill set I needed to bring his text to life. The program was also my first taste of a conservatory schedule. I learned time management and survival skills that served me at The Juilliard School.”
2011 Apprentice Alumnus; Fabian in Twelfth Night on the Boston Common, 2014; Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the Hatch Shell with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, 2015
“As an alumnus of the apprentice program, I can say that the techniques I took away are indispensable and continue to be revisited. The fundamental voice study that we took part in has proved effective groundwork for me in taking on any role. I truly benefited from an applied form of study. Be prepared to dive deep into the technicalities of Shakespeare, which you will then be able to take out and experiment with as you tour your work around Boston. CSC is there for you to improve. They’ve been a great company to remain involved with.”
Since 2013, CSC has been the theater in residence at Babson College in Wellesley, MA with rehearsals and classes taking place at the beautiful Sorenson Center for the Arts. Throughout the program, you will split your time between Wellesley and our outdoor performing space on the Boston Common. Dorm housing at Babson College is available for rental at an additional cost. See out application page for more details on program costs and options.
We consider a variety of factors when selecting members of our Apprentice Company. First and foremost, we are looking for actors who have demonstrated a serious commitment to the study of acting and are interested in pursuing theater-arts as a career.
Apprentices must be 18 years of age and completed at least one year of undergraduate (or equivalent) training or have similar pre-professional/professional experience. While there is no age limit on the program, typically Apprentices fall between 18-25 years of age. Actors of all genders, minorities, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
Our program is built on three founding principles of our company.
Actors are a part of CSC’s community engagement with our diverse audiences, both through our Apprentice Ambassador work on the Boston Common and the opportunities provided by our touring Showcase Productions. Sometimes this engagement takes the form of performance and sometimes by conversation and service. We believe that each of these are useful tools for the artist who strives to make theater, and Shakespeare in particular, accessible for all.
We look for actors who demonstrate a strong work ethic and show promise to be positive and reliable collaborators with their peers and faculty. Actors should have enough training/experience to be challenged, but not lost in our advanced classes and who are willing to work at a professional pace, coming prepared to every class and rehearsal and who will set personal goals for their own work.
Thinking critically about how Shakespeare and classical acting training fits into their overall acting training, either as a new practice or building on previous skills is important. We look for actors who can articulate specific professional goals and use the resources at CSC (including connections with our CSC2 and professional companies) to fit into these plans. Actors who listen and share their learning process with each other is a key element in making the experience a valuable and worthwhile experience.
Check out Braley Degenhardt ‘16’s video documenting her time in the program!
Training in Wellesley
Core classes for Apprentices include training in Text Analysis, Voice and Movement. Instructors will independently teach fundamentals crucial to unlocking Shakespeare’s text. They will also work in tandem with your directors on the Showcase Productions implementing this training directly into performance, helping to erode the gap between classroom and rehearsal room.
The first half of this class will focus on textual conventions from the quarto and folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays including meter, punctuation and rhetoric with a strong focus on hearing Shakespeare’s language as well as speaking it. This work (drawn from Cicely Berry and Giles Block) and will help students to see these conventions not as rules that dictate how Shakespeare should be performed, but rather as opportunities for experimentation and play. The second half of this class will focus on using the architecture in partnered, self-directed scene work. Facilitated peer-based feedback will use Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process.
Following Kristin Linklater’s method of “Freeing the Natural Voice, “ students are guided through a progression of exercises designed to free, strengthen, and develop their whole vocal range. The majority of classroom focus explores physical awareness, breathing, resonance, and the connection of voice to emotional and imaginative impulse. Additional coursework addresses vocal health, building a reliable and personal warm-up, and applications of the technique to Shakespeare’s text.
The Apprentice Movement course will explore how the body relates and communicates to the world around it. We do this alternately focusing on individual’s mind/body awareness and then on how individuals engage with the space and others around it. Our means for exploration is through the introduction of multiple mind/body system and strategies including Laban/Bartenieff fundamentals (individually focused) that build to creation through physically-rooted improvisation tools, many developed from the Liz Lerman Toolbox. We will also explore individual student’s relationship to immediate experience. The goals are to build upon the actor/mover existing strengths and add avenues of choice through physicality beyond what is currently exhibited.
Apprentices will also receive weekly monologue coaching from members of CSC2 (CSC’s advanced actor training program for MFA-level actors) as part of cross-mentorship program. Academy staff will work with you and your coach to select and develop new material to strengthen your Shakespearean audition arsenal and expand your classical range.
Interspersed during the program, guest teachers and artists will share their work and expertise in a short masterclass series. These offerings are unique to the artists currently working with CSC each year, but past topics have included: clowning, improvisation, auditioning for the camera, stage combat, voice over and yoga for the actor.
On the Boston Common
A major piece of training with CSC means being a part of the Company’s core values of audience access and engagement. Every member of our team, from Artistic Director to our volunteers becomes an important part of this mission during the summer.
Our annual performance on the Boston Common sees upwards of 75,000 audience members in only three and a half weeks. These audiences come from all backgrounds and abilities with one thing in common, a desire to participate in the arts. The show is free and for many it is the only piece of theater they can afford to see during the year.
Our audiences tend to arrive between two and three hours before the curtain goes up, offering us a wonderful opportunity to engage with them on a deeper level than most theater companies can. Every apprentice will have opportunities as an Audience Ambassador for about half our performances. Apprentices will help with typical front-of-house duties such as ushering, concession/merchandise sales and site setup/breakdown. You’ll be trained in best inclusion practices to help keep our show accessible to audience members of all abilities.
However, audience engagement on the Boston Common is about more than the customer service. As part of our cross-education with our professional company, you’ll meet each week with a different member of the production team (actors, designers, etc.) to hear their take on the play and gain better insight into their process. Armed with this information and your unique perspective as an artist and performer, you’ll engage with the audiences to answer questions and begin conversations, helping to deepen their understanding and experience of the play.
To spark these conversations, you’ll perform work form your text class right in portion of that massive audience in a time-honored theater tradition called “The Greenshow”. This playful, guerilla performance style will give you invaluable performance experience in our outdoor, non-traditional space and offer an immediate opportunity to engage with the audience about your work. For the audience, these short performance pieces help create a more intimate experience of Shakespeare’s text and themes allowing them a richer understanding of the main-stage production.
Performing in Boston, Wellesley, and Beyond
Training in the Apprentice Program culminates with “The Academy Showcase”. Our company will form two casts who each perform a professionally-directed Shakespeare production. These two productions are rehearsed and perform at the Carling-Sorenson Theater at Babson College in Wellesley and also tour to locations in Boston and the Greater-Boston area in the last weeks of the program. Auditions/casting for specific roles in these productions will occur shortly after the program begins. The Academy Showcase relies heavily on ensemble-based storytelling based on collaboration with work done in the movement classes.
Some apprentices will be assigned an understudy role for the 2017 Shakespeare on the Common performance. Understudy duties include attending specific main stage rehearsals and understudies may also be called on to work with our choreographer to help create/rehearse movement sequences for the production. Apprentice understudies are prepared to fill in during rehearsal or performances should an actor be unable to for any reason. Apprentices assigned understudy roles are not called to every rehearsal and the rehearsal room is open to any member of the Apprentice Company who wishes to observe during her/his free time.
Understudy assignments alongside your audience engagement work on the Boston Common allow apprentices to gain a thorough introduction to the Actor’s Equity Association. All Apprentice Company members are eligible to earn 7 EMC points for their work with us during the summer.
The Apprentice Program is designed to be a fully-immersive training program. Apprentices are involved in multiple aspects of our company, and no two weeks’ schedules are exactly alike. In the program’s first half you will attend daily sessions of classes or rehearsals. Your day will generally begin between 9-10pm and end between 5-7pm. You will usually have 1-2 days off in the middle of the week (Tuesday/Wednesday) during this half of the program. We will take a short recess for the Fourth of July holiday.
In the middle of July, Apprentices will begin their work on the Boston Common. The day-off will switch to Mondays, and the other six days will be split between rehearsals for The Apprentice Showcase and work on the Boston Common as Audience Ambassadors. Work on the Common is scheduled until about 11pm. In the last two weeks of the program, we will tech and tour our Showcase Performance productions in the Boston and Greater-Boston area.
The programs’ schedule is rigorous but highly rewarding for students who are committed to their training, and is intended to be a full-time commitment. Though some past students have found time for minimal freelance work, Apprentices are generally not encouraged to have outside commitments during the program.
Thank you for your interest in our Apprentice Program. Information will be available for the 2018 Program in late Fall 2017.
Featured Photo: Maggie Bogan (Lancaster), Emily Wirthwein (King Henry IV), and Rose-Emma Lambridis (Sir Walter Blunt), Henry IV, part 1, 2017. Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots