Theatre at the Renaissance Center

The Renaissance Center is to dedicated to enriching the cultural programming of the Pioneer Valley through compelling performances of plays from or about the Renaissance in a manner that enlivens the scholarly activities of the Center, enlightens the public’s understanding of the period and its drama, and enhances the visibility of the Center itself and its unique contributions to the field and the region. The Center also develops and executes outreach efforts to bring educational programs about the Renaissance to the surrounding communities, and especially the underserved urban school districts of Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts.

Hampshire Shakespeare Company

Hampshire Shakespeare Company is a community-based organization with part-time seasonal professional staff. The Company brings together professional, amateur and student performers, offering audiences and actors a range of theatrical experiences from the most profound to the most playful.

Every summer, HSC performs Shakespeare Under the Stars. Performances take place outdoors on the Great Meadow of the Renaissance Center.

Young Shakespeare Players - East

Our newest partnership is with the Young Shakespeare Players - East. YSP is a non-profit theater program founded in 1980, invites young people ages 7-18 to perform full-length, original works of Shakespeare, G.B. Shaw and Dickens. There are no auditions at YSP. All members of the YSP ensemble receive one or more substantial speaking roles. Designed to show participants, their families, and the community that these plays are delightful, accessible, and fun, YSP is the only year-round program of its kind. Actors learn to appreciate both the language and the drama in these great works as well as the technical aspects of acting and stagecraft. Special programs are also available for veteran YSP actors ages 12 and up, and adults. Look for their mainstage productions in May!

Outreach Programs

Summer 2008
“Youth and Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Connection” – a five week summer school program for eighth – and ninth- graders in Holyoke. Text study and performance preparation, culminating in August performance of scenes from Romeo and Juliet at the Renaissance Center.

Spring 2009
“Shakespeare’s Women in Today’s World” – 12-week program for pregnant and parenting teen women at the Holyoke Care Center combining text study with performance training.

“Saturdays with Shakespeare” – eight-week program for 6 to 8-year olds. Two hours each Saturday, culminating in performance of improvised play.

Summer 2009
“Youth and Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Connection” – extension of 2008 program to the Springfield Renaissance School.

Summer 2013 - Present
Enchanted Circle TheatreYouth and Shakespeare Academy with the Enchanted Circle Theatre. Part of the Five week Holyoke Public Schools CONNECTIONS five-week summer intensive program for 6th to 9th graders offers an exciting and unique exposure to the dramatic arts through the work of the playwright William Shakespeare. Students will have the opportunity to explore the world of theatre -Acting, directing, dance, costuming and set design. The program culminates in early August with a performance here at the Renaissance Center. The student actors present their own remixed scenes from a Shakespeare Play of their choosing. The public is invited to attend the performance which is free of charge and will take place on the Center's grounds, 650 East Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA. No reservations are needed. After their performance at the Center, students in the Youth and Shakespeare Academy will then visit the UMass Amherst Theatre Department as part of their Access to College campus experience. For more information on the program email Celine or call (413) 534-3789. Check out the trailer for American Graduate Day from WGBY featuring Enchanted Circle Theater!

Previous Theater Productions

May 2003
Inaugural UMass Shakespeare Festival. Midori Harris and Shannon Stillings, Co-founding producers and artistic directors.

Fall 2003
Organization of the Amherst Renaissance Company (ARC) by Theater Department undergraduates and local high school students. Adam Sanders and Midori Harris, Co-Artistic Directors, Dr. Alec Wild, Faculty Advisor

January 2004
Performance of A Merry Play of John John (John Heywood) at the Amherst Club (ARC)

Spring 2004
Performance of The Changeling (Thomas Middleton); Jones Library, Amherst, MA; Greenfield Historical Society; Boltwood Community Center; Frontier Regional High School

May 2004
Shakespeare Festival, Midori Harris, Producer and Artistic Director, Dr. Dominica Borg and Dr. Arthur Kinney, co-advisors

Spring 2005
Performance of Arden of Faversham (anon.), directed by Lucinda Kidder

May 2005
Shakespeare Festival, Midori Harris, Producer and Artistic Director.

November 2006
Performances of Endymion (John Lyly) , directed by Ann Garner

April 2007
Rough Magic – a compilation of scenes from Renaissance Drama, directed by Ann Garner

May 2007
ShakespeareFest, Department of Theater students

Fall 2007
Re-organization as Renaissance Center Theater Company (RCTC)

Spring 2008
Creation of Black Box Theater space in Center barn

April 2008
Performances of Measure for Measure (Shakespeare), directed by Matteo Pangallo

May 2008
Renaissance Festival, Department of Theater students, Amherst Renaissance Dancers, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School Commedia Troupe

October 2008
Performances of Macbeth (Shakespeare), directed by Nathaniel Leonard

Spring 2009
Recording and broadcast of The Henriad, (Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, Henry V), directed by Matteo Pangallo

April 2009
Performances of Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Ann Garner

October 2009
Performances of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, directed by Nathaniel Leonard

February 2009
Performances of Everyman, directed by Valerie Gramling

April 2010
Performances of Doctor Fasutus, directed by Lucinda Kidder

September 2010
Performances of Noah, directed by Valerie Gramling

April 2011
Staged Readings of Surprised by Love, translated and adapted by Dennis Porter, The Mandrake, directed by Nathaniel Leonard, and El Amor Medico, translated and adapted by Josephine Hardman and Sara Brew.

April 2013
The Festival of Madness and Mayhem! A staged reading of Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist, as adapted by Alison Bowie, in the Upper Rand Lobby of the UMass Fine Arts Center. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, directed by Dori Robinson, was performed in the Black Box Theater.