Welcome to Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University.



Welcome to Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University.

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, MBU’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


A Thriving Partnership

quill-spacerJust steps away from the MBU campus stands the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, the Blackfriars Playhouse, home of the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) — S&P’s partner. The painstakingly crafted, oak-paneled theatre serves as a second home and a shared laboratory for S&P students, and the many resources of ASC provide ample opportunity for collaboration and invention.

The Blackfriars stage creates an unparalleled feeling built upon the collective experience of the live moment — between fellow audience members, audience and player, teacher and student, speaker and listener. ASC preserves Shakespearean staging conditions, without sets and with the lights up, which highlight this sense of community. Both ASC and S&P are dedicated to invigorating the language and theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries for modern audiences.

This ideal partnership puts students at the forefront of the field and connects them to a vibrant global network of Shakespearean scholarship and artistry. Click here to learn more about this unique partnership

Programs of Study

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. 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.

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. Undergraduates in the Baldwin Online and Adult Program  should be advised that the undergraduate major in the Performing Arts is available primarily on the main campus in Staunton, and should consult with their advisor if they wish to pursue the MLitt degree.


Latest News

Thesis Festival 2021

The Shakespeare & Performance Thesis Festival is a conference style presentation of the Master of Letters students’ research for their Thesis Projects. It is integral to their decree completion as well as being a communal sharing of ideas and research. This...
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Introducing: Polaris Shakespeare Company

This August, the MBU S&P MFA class of 2022 introduced their theater company: Polaris Shakespeare Company. The driving force behind Polaris’s theater company is bringing people together. Polaris’ website states that they hope to “foster a sense of connection and...
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Male Gender Performativity in Twelfth Night

Male Gender Performativity in Twelfth Night by Hessy Sanders.   In viewing a play with a feminist lens, especially one as gendered as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, one must ask Whose story is privileged? Whose isn’t? In most stagings of Twelfth Night, these...
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2020 Thesis Project Festival

2020 Thesis Project Festival By Kara Hankard   The second year MBU MLITT students presented abstracts for their theses on Monday, November 2nd 2020. The professors and presenters beautifully reimagined the event to support COVID-safety. Only professors and...
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See possibility.

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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