Renaissance Center Theatre Co.

The Renaissance Center Theater Company 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.

In addition, the RCTC, as the performance arm of the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, 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. RCTC welcomes the participation of all interested individuals in its productions and its outreach efforts.

Auditions are open to all, and technical and financial support is most appreciated. We look for opportunities to teach and perform, and to assist educators interested in integrating performance techniques into their class work.

The 2013 Season: The Festival of Madness and Mayhem!

In April 2013, the RCTC partnered with UMass Hillel to present Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. 

Festival PosterOn April 7th, a staged reading of Ben Johnson’s The Alchemist, as adapted by Alison Bowie, was presented in free of charge in the Upper Rand Lobby of the UMass Fine Arts Center.

Then, in the Black Box Theatre at the Renaissance Center on the 18th, 20th, 21st, 25th and 27th of April, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, directed by Dori Robinson, was performed to an enthusiastic audience of students, community members, faculty and staff.

The Festival was sponsored in part by a grant from the UMass Arts Council.

Check back in the Fall for the 2014 Season schedule!

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
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 will culminate on Tuesday August 6th at 11:00 a.m. with a performance here at the Renaissance Center. The student actors will present their own remixed scenes from The Tempest. 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.

Company History

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.