The Royal Shakespeare Company held court in September at Montclair State University, presenting a series of master classes for theater students in the College of the Arts.
The residency – by one of the best known theater companies in the world – was led by three Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) practitioners, actor Emma Manton and directors Ewa Dina and Aaron Parsons, who guided students as they explored Shakespeare’s language and plays through practical exploration and staging.
“It’s been a real honor for the RSC to spend an intensive two weeks with the faculty and students of Montclair. We have been privileged to work with students, many of whom had reservations about Shakespeare and who have grasped his words with such insight and enthusiasm,” said the company’s Head of Learning Fi Ingram.
That was evident at the script-in-hand performance of Richard III, performed on the stage of Memorial Auditorium. In a nod to the thrust-style stage layout of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon, the audience was seated on three sides of the stage, creating an intimacy between the play, actors and audience.
“Many of us were not connected to Shakespeare before this residency,” said AJ Love, a senior Musical Theatre major who performed. “It felt outdated. But we discovered how to connect the text to today. It was full of surprises.”
The three-year pilot program with Royal Shakespeare Company Learning will pave the way to establishing a long-term partnership, aligning Montclair’s and RSC’s mutual dedication to unlocking the transformative power of Shakespeare and theater practice.
“This is just the beginning of our collaboration, and we are so excited to see what will come next. It’s been a transformative experience for RSC practitioners and students alike,” Ingram said.
College of the Arts Dean Daniel Gurskis said, “Working with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the environment of an intensive, extended residency is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our theater students. I am confident that five or 10 or even 15 years from now, not only will these students vividly remember this residency, but they will also continue to find new ways to apply what they have learned.”
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