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 three 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 2014 season Intern/Apprentice Company project, Troilus and Cressida, will 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) and Macbeth (2013).

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 2014 Apprentice Actor Training Program is $1200, which includes housing for the summer. Scholarships and some financial aid is available. Rehearsals in 2014 begin Tuesday, May 13th. The professional company productions of Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor open on June 27th and 28th followed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead on July 5th. All three run in repertory through Sunday, August 3rd. The Intern/Apprentice Project, Troilus and Cressida directed by Rick Barbour, opens July 23rd and runs until July 31st in rep with the other productions. Apprentices participate in strike and are finished on Wednesday, August 6th.

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.

The company is cast for 2014. Please check back in the fall to audition for 2015. Here are a few of the places we held auditions in 2013/14:

  • Video audition – Audition live from where ever you are via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout.
            February 9th and 15th.
  • Minneapolis, MN -University of Minnesota – February 8
  • St. Louis, MO – Midwest Theater Auditions – February 21-23
  • Northfield, MN – St. Olaf College – date TBD
  • Knoxville, TN – University of Tennessee – date TBD

Ready to Apply?


See more GRSF videos at

See photos from past Intern/Apprentice Projects on Flickr at

Intern/Apprentice Project: Macbeth (dir Rick Barbour, photo Kathy Christenson)

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

Macbeth (2013), All’s Well That Ends Well (2012), King Lear (2011) and Titus Andronicus (2010).

Victoria Nassif in King Lear (2011, directed by Rick Barbour)

Dominique Worsley in "Titus Andronicus" (Great River Shakespeare Festival 2010 Apprentice Intern Project, dir. James Edmondson)