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Theatre and Dance

Shakespeare Carolina at Winthrop

Winthrop University and Shakespeare Carolina have formed a partnership to produce classical theatre in Rock Hill, beginning with the summer of 2011. The partnership, Shakespeare Carolina at Winthrop, will bring together the artistic leadership of Shakespeare Carolina with the faculty and students of Winthrop’s Department of Theatre and Dance. The partnership will present two productions during the summer in Winthrop’s Johnson Theatre.

The 2015 season includes Henry V, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Servant of Two Masters, and The Merry Wives of Windsor as part of fall 2015 Welcome Week. 

Shakespeare Carolina provides all artistic and administrative management of the productions. Winthrop University provides its facilities and direct involvement of faculty, staff and students in the productions. All Shakespeare Carolina at Winthrop productions in Johnson Theatre are official cultural events for Winthrop students. Winthrop University holds two positions on the Shakespeare Carolina board of directors.

Shakespeare Carolina is the Metrolina area's only theatre company devoted to the classical canon. Straddling the border between North and South Carolina, the company presents innovative, thought-provoking productions of the classics. Founded in 1997, Shakespeare Carolina operated outdoors in Rock Hill’s Fewell Park for four years. The company was invited to perform at the Historic Footlights Theatre as a part of Charleston, SC’s Millenium Celebration on New Years Eve 1999. The company presented Illuminari, an original piece created by company members. Shakespeare Carolina moved into the McCelvey Center in York, SC, for its production of Othello in 2001. After a hiatus of six years, Shakespeare Carolina presented The Taming of The Shrew in Downtown Rock Hill in 2007 before moving north to Theatre Charlotte to present Hamlet at the first ever Queen City Shakespeare Festival. In Summer 2008 Shakespeare Carolina forged ahead with ambitious productions of Richard III and Twelfth Night, making the second annual Queen City Shakespeare Festival an enormous success, as ticket sales quadrupled that of the 2007 Festival. 2009 saw the company returning once again to Theatre Charlotte with the seldom produced Antony & Cleopatra to rave reviews.

Shakespeare Carolina is a culturally diverse organization that promotes color and gender blind casting. Shakespeare Carolina seeks to promote the universality of Shakespeare’s canon to audiences that may not otherwise be exposed to the works of world’s greatest playwright. It is Shakespeare Carolina’s goal to grow into one of the region’s premiere cultural institutions, providing educational outreach as well as educational, technical and artistic opportunities for all segments of York County’s population. Shakespeare Carolina receives support from the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Arts Council of York County.

Shakespeare Carolina Information. 

The partnership supports Shakespeare Carolina’s vision in several ways.

  • The resources of Winthrop’s College of Visual and Performing Arts enhances the artistic quality of the company’s productions. Johnson Theatre—a premiere venue with excellent lighting and sound systems, stage, support studios, and welcoming auditorium—will serve as Shakespeare Carolina’s summer home where the company will rehearse, prepare and perform its productions. The presence of Winthrop faculty and students in the productions will also enhance the artistic quality of the company’s work.
  • Winthrop actively supports the company’s ambition to become a fully professional operation, hiring the region’s best directors and choreographers, the most highly qualified designers in all areas and Equity-status guest actors hired for every production. Winthrop faculty and staff can assist in areas such as grant-writing, recruiting and nurturing of the company's artistic staff.
  • The partnership supports the company’s plans to expand its repertory to include productions of works by other Elizabethan dramatists (such as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson) and classical works from the ancient authors (such as Plautus, Aristophanes or Sophocles).

The partnership enhances Winthrop’s arts programming in several ways.

  • The partnership provides professional artistic opportunities for Winthrop faculty during the summer. Faculty members might work as actors, designers, choreographers, or directors for the company.
  • Winthrop students have a local opportunity to participate in an intensive summer theatre experience—as actors, running crew technicians, or as production staff (in areas such as stage management, properties management, box office management, costume construction, etc.). Students earn academic credit for their participation in the productions. Faculty members in the Department of Theatre and Dance supervise students’ involvement with the company. The students’ academic experience includes master classes, reading, research, and intensive training in classical performance techniques along with applied learning through their direct participation in the company’s productions.
  • The Winthrop community enjoys local access to excellent summer theatre.
  • The partnership brings to Rock Hill a premiere summer entertainment series.

The Shakespeare Carolina at Winthrop partnership will expand in future years to include initiatives such as:

  • Forming an apprentice company of high school students as a way of growing talent in the local community.
  • Developing parallel early music and early dance programming alongside the theatre productions.
  • Offering theatre classes during the day for local K-12 students, taught by Winthrop faculty or students who are members of Shakespeare Carolina at Winthrop ensemble.
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