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Welcome to Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University.

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Some graduate theatre programs stress scholarship, others stagecraft. The Shakespeare and Performance program at Mary Baldwin University offers a marriage of both aspects that attracts applicants from around the world.

Students in our coed Master of Letters/Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance (MLitt/MFA) study, direct, experiment, and perform on campus and in the authentically recreated Blackfriars Playhouse downtown — home of the internationally acclaimed American Shakespeare Center, MBC’s programmatic partner.

“Our goal — every day — is to learn together, as a community of artists and educators working side-by-side.”
–Dr. Paul Menzer, program director

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Your immersion into the intense world of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature and performance begins with an MLitt curriculum rooted in the liberal arts. The core curriculum encourages students to occupy a variety of roles while exploring different ways to approach Shakespeare through texts and performances. Also referred to as the program’s four core competencies, acting, directing, dramaturgy, and teaching provide the interdisciplinary foundation for understanding the Bard’s plays and the world in which he worked.

In their second year, students who choose to apply for MFA degree candidacy interview for entry into the MFA program. Learn more about the MLitt degree.



For MLitt graduates accepted into the MFA degree, the learning experience intensifies with the formation of a tight-knit theatrical company that produces a season of five early modern and early-modern-inspired shows from selecting the plays to marketing to performance. During the year-long program, company members continue to hone the skills acquired in the MLitt track, preparing themselves for the job market in the process.

Learn more about the MFA degree.


Bachelor of Arts/Master of Letters (BA/MLitt)

This program couples the strengths of the undergraduate theatre major with the unique Shakespeare and Performance graduate program to offer residential students an immersion in arts and letters and the opportunity to earn both degrees in five academic years. (Earning the two degrees would typically take six years or more.)

Undergraduates in the Baldwin Online and Adult Program  should be advised that the undergraduate theatre major is available primarily on the main campus in Staunton. Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students who are interested in pursuing the Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Performance should consult with their advisor.

september, 2016

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Shakespeare & Performance MFA Company Presents Festival of Plays

Sweet Wag Shakespeare, the MFA company of Mary Baldwin’s Shakespeare and Performance (S&P) program, puts on their festival of plays, The Sweet Festival of Wags, March 30 through April 4 during which they re-present performances from their six-show season, including Strange Absence: A Devised Show, Hamlet, War of the Roses, As You Like It, The City […]

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Shakespeare Program Debuts Fourth Company

Sweet Wag Shakespeare, the 2015-16 Master of Fine Arts company for Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance program, opens a season of intrigue, gender politics, statecraft, rumor, and fun with Strange Absence, a devised show illustrating the collaborative nature of Mary Baldwin’s MFA model, now in its fourth year. Written by the entire company and […]

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Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University provides its students with experienced, talented, and professional faculty as well as access to world-renowned guest artists.

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Keep up to date with the Shakespeare and Performance Blog: Folio.

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Get to Know S&P

Meet students and faculty, tour campus and the Blackfriars Playhouse.

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Mary Baldwin University and the American Shakespeare Center’s Thriving Partnership

The partnership between MBU and the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is an ideal model of town-gown collaboration and so much more.  Both ASC and S&P are dedicated to invigorating the language and theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries for modern audiences.  This relationship puts students at the forefront of the field and connects them to a vibrant global network of Shakespearean scholarship and artistry.

Conveniently, the Blackfriars Playhouse — ASC’s home base and the world’s only authentic re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre — is just a few blocks from campus. On the broad stage surrounded by intricate woodwork, S&P students hone their acting, directing, costuming, and speaking skills while keeping Renaissance plays fresh and accessible to modern audiences. In addition, the playhouse is a destination for world-renowned Shakespearean scholars and theatre experts, who converge in Staunton every other fall for the weeklong Blackfriars Conference.

American Shakespeare Center at a Glance

  • Founded in 1988; training teachers of Shakespeare since 1992
  • Professional resident company and separate road troupe with an annual four-play repertory
  • Touring troupe is America’s most traveled Shakespeare company: 47 states and five countries to date
  • During the Actors’ Renaissance Season, veteran ASC actors mount full-length productions in a matter of days, striving to reproduce the energy and excitement of Renaissance theatre
  • Extensive educational outreach with workshops and seminars for teens, teachers, and scholars, including the annual American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp.

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Shakespeare and Performance