Training for the next generation of artists creating dynamic, clearly-spoken productions of Shakespeare's plays.

2016 Project


Click below to apply for the 2018 Apprentice Company. After you have completed the application, please email a two page pdf with your headshot and resume (headshot as page 1) to Please name the pdf and make the subject line of the email: “Your_name Apprentice Application.”



The Great River Shakespeare Festival is well known for its commitment to clearly-spoken, thoughtfully developed, classical work. We want our plays to resonate profoundly with a modern audience, but creating dynamic classics requires mastery of stylized text. GRSF is committed to giving our apprentices the skills that will make them stand out in the classical arena – skills that will unlock Shakespeare’s canon, open doors to future rehearsal rooms and  inspire the creation of their own work.


The apprentice program at GRSF is founded in ensemble training: valuing bold choices and confident artists who can bring their hearts, brains and guts into the rehearsal room. This type of engagement requires collegiality – an environment that supports the individual artist, and empowers the collective. At GRSF, that environment is created by a community of artists and audiences. The people you meet during your summer at GRSF, both your fellow apprentices and the artists you shadow on the mainstage, will be colleagues for the rest of your career.


Moving from an educational space to the professional arena is challenging. The professional training program at GRSF is designed to further your artistic development and skills, but we also want to foster your ability to apply those skills. We keep our eye on product and practical process. Those in the program will apprentice professionals through their experience as understudies. By following one member of the professional company from beginning to end of the rehearsal process, apprentices have the opportunity to observe how an experienced actor handles the challenges of working on Shakespeare in a professional setting. Apprentices then apply what they have learned to their own fully-staged production in The Apprentice Project.


We want to leave apprentices with the skills and resources to audition and perform anywhere in the professional world, empowering them long after they have left the GRSF apprentice program. Throughout the summer, apprentices will participate in master classes focused on the challenges of pursuing a career in the arts, develop goals and receive training  specific to their individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as audition for freelance directors, casting agents and other professional companies.

What will I do?


The apprentice program at GRSF offers three months of immersion in Shakespeare. This includes five weeks of classes with GRSF instructors, company members and directors focusing on text, speech, and acting technique.

Apprentices will understudy at least one, meaty mainstage role in either Richard III or Comedy of Errors, learning alongside the professional company from table work to tech.

Apprentices will rehearse and perform in the 2017 Intern-Apprentice Project production, an adaptation of the Henry VI cycle, which runs in rep with An Iliad at the end of the season.

Apprentices will have the opportunity to workshop with, audition and perform for Artistic Directors and Casting Directors from across the country.


What Qualifications do I need to be an Apprentice?

The program is geared towards rising and graduating seniors, MFA students in their first or second year, and young professionals seeking to sharpen their facility with Shakespeare.
Apprentices should possess a keen interest in classical theatre, regardless of their actual experience with Shakespeare. Collaboration is a fundamental component of GRSF  – apprentices should be interested in developing as part of an ensemble and come to the program with clear goals for their artistic or professional development. We seek out intelligent students who work hard, play nice, and are willing to take big risks in the classroom, the rehearsal hall and onstage. We want students who are invested in their own growth, who are looking for a challenge.

What is the Time Commitment?

Apprentices are expected to start on May 9th and participate in the season through strike on August 5th. Please bring up any conflicts in your application or interview, as we may be able to accommodate them, if we know about them in advance.

How much does the Apprentice Program Cost?

Tuition for the 12 week program is $1750, which includes housing. Scholarships are available.

Will I be on a run crew?

No! The primary reason you’re at GRSF is to act and develop your professional theater career. There are two short weeks in the middle of the summer (around tech week) where you’ll work in the shops, as well as observe the show you’re understudying. Other than that, you’ll be focused on acting.


Auditions are held around the country, as well as digitally. 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.

2018 Auditions:

Please check back as we update information on this page. Auditions will be similar to 2017 as listed below.


Video auditions will be scheduled in 6 minute intervals and will be held on the following dates. To schedule a video audition, apply using the links on this page and indicate in the form which date you would like to audition.

February 11, 12pm – 4pm ET

March 4, 12pm – 4pm ET


University of Evansville – January 15

Webster University – January 21

ACTF Des Moines – January 24

University of Minnesota – February 5

Oklahoma City University – February 5

Stella Adler, NYC – February 10

St. Olaf – February 16

TCU – March 19

Texas State – March 22

SMU – March 25

Lipscomb – March 26

University of Tennessee, Knoxville – March 27

University of the South – March 28


Click below to apply for the 2018 Apprentice Company. After you have completed the application, please email a two page pdf with your headshot and resume (headshot as page 1) to Please name the pdf and make the subject line of the email: “Your_name Apprentice Application.”