The Apprentice Actor Training Program

The Great River Shakespeare Festival’s Apprentice Actor Training Program focuses on developing and enhancing actors’ knowledge of and experience with verse, and is intended to help actors make the transition from training programs to the professional world.

Apprentice Company

The program has three components:

Learn: Apprentices take classes and workshops from GRSF company members. Ranging from study of Shakespeare’s First Folio to movement training, our classes provide a complete immersion in work on classical texts. Apprentices acquire tools to create a solid working process for rehearsal and learn how to apply that process in a professional setting. GRSF text coaches lead the majority of classes.

Observe: Apprentices are given understudy assignments in one of the professional company productions. Understudies are required to be at every rehearsal for which the actor they are understudying is called, from initial text work to opening night. By following one member of the professional company from beginning to end of the rehearsal process, Apprentices have the opportunity to observe first hand how an experienced actor handles the challenges of working on Shakespeare in a professional setting.

Perform: Apprentices apply what they have learned as they rehearse and perform their own project under the direction of GRSF artistic staff. Each season’s Intern/Apprentice Company project performs in the Dorothy B. Magnus Studio Theatre in the Winona State University Performing Arts Center, adjacent to the main stage theatre in which the GRSF professional company productions take place.

The 2015 Intern/Apprentice Company project, King John, will be directed by Rick Barbour and perform eight times during the last week and a half of the season. Project production values are minimal so the focus remains on the actor, the text, and the audience. Past projects have included As You Like It (2004), Twelfth Night (2005), Cymbeline (2006), Julius Caesar (2007), Pericles (2008) and Hamlet (2009), Titus Andronicus (2010), King Lear (2011), All’s Well That Ends Well (2012), Macbeth (2013) and Troilus and Cressida (2014).

Apprentices are also asked to perform technical theater and administrative office assignments throughout the production build and performance run, on an as needed basis under the supervision of GRSF’s professional staff.

Tuition for the 2015 Apprentice Actor Training Program is $1500, which includes housing for the summer. Scholarships and some financial aid are available. Rehearsals in 2015 begin Tuesday, May 12th. The professional company productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie open on June 26th and 27th followed by Romeo and Juliet on July 3rd. All three run in repertory through Sunday, August 2nd. The Intern/Apprentice Project opens July 22nd and runs until July 30th in rep with the other productions. Apprentices participate in strike and are finished on Wednesday, August 5th.

Auditions are held at sites around the country as well as on video. For the audition, please prepare 2 monologues each under 2 minutes in length. At least one and preferably both should be Shakespeare and preferably in verse.

Here are a few of the places we held auditions in 2014/15:

  • Video auditionNEW DATE ADDED: Sunday, February 15 – Noon to 4pm
    January 17, 2015 (there may be more dates posted later.)
    Audition live from where ever you are via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout.
    Click here to fill out the video audition form and get a time.
  • Northfield, MN – St. Olaf College – Thursday, Oct 30, 2014
  • Columbus, OH – Ohio Wesleyan University – Tues, December 9, 2014
  • Minneapolis, MN -University of Minnesota – Sunday, February 1, 2015
  • St. Louis, MO – Midwest Theater Auditions – February 21-23
    Note: this season we will visit SETCs instead of MWTAs
  • SETC (Southeast Theater Conference) – March 5-8, 2015 – to sign up
  • Knoxville, TN – University of Tennessee – date TBD

Ready to Apply?
Apply online:

The ladies of the 2014 Apprentice Acting Company present:

More about the Apprentice Actor Training Program:

See more GRSF videos at

See photos from past Intern/Apprentice Projects on Flickr at or click a photo below.

Triolus and Cressida (2014)
Triolus and Cressida (2014)
Intern/Apprentice Project: Macbeth (dir Rick Barbour, photo Kathy Christenson)
Macbeth (2013)
Brittany Falardeau, Jeremy Thompson, & Angela Graham in All's Well that Ends Well. 2012, Great River Shakespeare Festival, directed by Rick Barbour. Photo by Kathy Christenson
All’s Well That Ends Well (2012)
Victoria Nassif in King Lear (2011, directed by Rick Barbour)
King Lear (2011)
Dominique Worsley in "Titus Andronicus" (Great River Shakespeare Festival 2010 Apprentice Intern Project, dir. James Edmondson)
Titus Andronicus (2010)