Beginning in 2016, the Australian Shakespeare Company’s Graduate Players program is the evolution of our Bravehearts productions for young actors aged 12 - 18. We recognised an opportunity to create a bridge between drama school and the theatre industry. The ASC also didn’t want to exclude those who come to acting later in life so while the Graduate Players is essentially our youth ensemble, the program is open to anyone 18 years and over.
This fee paying course gives participants the opportunity to work with professional ASC staff, including directors, musical director, choreographer and actors over a 12-week period as a full scale production, or adaptation, of a work of Shakespeare is rehearsed and actors are coached in Shakespeare techniques and acting methodologies. After completing a Melbourne season of 4 performances at the iconic Athenaeum theatre, the production completes a short regional tour before heading overseas. In 2016, the Graduate Players Ensemble performed a musical version of Much Ado About Nothing at Na Pradle theatre, Prague.
Since then we have been invited to perform as part of the Prague Fringe Festival with Twelfth Night Reimagined in 2017, The Comedy of Errors in 2018 and Much Ado About Beatrice and Benedick in 2019. The productions met with critical acclaim amongst the festival reviewers. Not only does the program offer participants the opportunity to perform Shakespeare as part of a vibrant international festival, it also provides the chance to fall in love with one of the most beautiful cities in Europe as well as form fantastic friendships and industry contacts. At the conclusion of our Prague season, we offer arts touring including a workshop with Prague Shakespeare Company and attending a PSC performance. Many participants have chosen to then continue their travels in Europe: often with each other! Graduate Players alumni have gone on to complete further study at NIDA and Yale School of Drama, work with Prague Shakespeare Company and mainstage productions with the ASC, and three past participants formed their own company, 7th Floor Theatre.
2020 saw us ready to return to the Prague Fringe Festival with our latest Graduate Players production, AMN Dream: an exciting new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sadly, like so many other arts ventures this year, COVID 19 has meant that we had to cancel the program midway through.
The ASC is keen to get Graduate Players back on its feet as soon as it is safe to do so.