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American Shakespeare Center goes digital

American Shakespeare Center has announced plans to expand the growing digital portfolio of its 2020 SafeStart Season with BlkFrs LIVE — the live broadcast companion to the company’s successful BlkFrsTV streaming platform.

BlkFrs LIVE will offer general audiences and academic partners synchronized live viewing of ASC’s new productions of Othello and Twelfth Night. Live-hosted encounters with actors as well as digital versions of ASC Education workshops are also part of the comprehensive “Virtual Tour” and “Virtual Student Matinee” programs, designed to make it possible for students all over the world to experience the joy of Shakespeare in performance and the magic of the Blackfriars Playhouse from far away.

“A core principle behind ASC SafeStart is finding ways to live, work, and create while facing both the pandemic and the corresponding economic fallout,” says Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny. “BlkFrsTV and BlkFrs LIVE will give innovative synchronous and asynchronous viewing options and learning opportunities to all audiences, but most especially to educators who are working to invent meaningful digital curricula and are no longer able to travel to our home in Staunton.” 

Both the pre-recorded content on BlkFrsTV and the live material on BlkFrs LIVE will be accompanied by educational content. These resources will range from online study guides to digital versions of ASC’s Core Curriculum, a series of 12 workshops that form the backbone of the company’s unique approach to Shakespeare, language, and performance traditions designed to help students find joy, vitality, and inspiration in the plays.

Four livestream Virtual Student Matinees of the company’s brand-new productions, Othello and Twelfth Night, are planned for September 16, September 23, October 7 and October 14 at 10:30 a.m. ASC is accepting school bookings now. 

“ASC’s goal is to become as adept at offering digital content as we are in-person experiences,” says Managing Director Amy Wratchford, “We are happy to be working with educational partners old and new to adapt our performances and our teaching methods to this new time, just as Shakespeare’s company continually adapted in response to the circumstances of his era.”

ASC’s expanding digital portfolio also includes Live @ Blackfriars — a monthly concert of contemporary music hosted by ASC’s music master Chris Johnston, featuring special guests performing on ASC’s historic stage — Dr. Ralph Presents: Then Must You Speak — a weekly Friday discussion series focusing on the constellation of complex issues and responses to race and Shakespeare in theory and in practice, now and in the past — and #SHXCamp — the digital version of a beloved summer tradition welcoming teens from seventh through 12th grade to an experience that balances online learning with novel ways to get off the screen and into the physical world.