They Do It With The Lights On: A Spring Break Immersion in Shakespeare

a man performs on a wooden stage in an enclosed theater.

View from the stage at the Blackfriars Theatre

Take a trip to the Actors’ Renaissance Season at the American Shakespeare Center, and earn academic credit while enjoying immersion in early modern theater practices. 

Project is Not Currently Available

In spring 2020 the on-site portion of this credited ELN spring break trip was interrupted by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.  Professors Bono and Horne hope to revive a program like this involving the resources of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia, and/or the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. in spring or summer of 2024.  For more information consult the websites of The Folger Shakespeare Library and the American Shakespeare Company or Professors Bono and/or Horne at and

Project description

Since 2001 the American Shakespeare Center at Staunton, Virginia, in the lovely Shenandoah Valley, has used its Blackfriars Theatre to put on an extraordinary repertory series of productions of the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, emphasizing original early modern theater practices such as actor-direction, cue scripts, full lighting, extensive doubling of parts, minimal props, and intensive audience interaction: a virtual laboratory of performance, experience, and economy! 

This immersive spring break trip to their Actors’ Renaissance Season allows you to earn 3 academic credits and a series of Project-based Digital Badges based on the ELN PEARL model. 

  • Preparation during the month of February includes reading, discussing, and completing a set of Worksheets on the plays to be seen at Staunton. 
  • Engagement and Added Value includes attendance at all 5 of the plays and a range of expert but fun events that teach you about the craft and the company such as playhouse tours, workshops, rehearsals and talkbacks, and a lecture by ASC Co-Founder Dr. Ralph Cohen. 
  • Reflection includes a daily journal and a series of individually-crafted assignments culminating in a final project able to be presented at events such as UB’s Celebration of Academic Excellence or SUNY’s Undergraduate Research Conference.
  • Leveraging includes post-trip engagement through presentation, volunteering, tutoring, or internships with one of our local Western New York community partners such as the annual Nichols High School regional Shakespeare Conference, Peace of the City/Shakespeare Comes to (716), or Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

Spring comes early to the Shenandoah Valley, and in between assignments you will be free to explore this lovely Civil War-era town and the surrounding countryside.  Your guides and co-teachers will be UB Associate Professors Barbara Bono of English and Maria S. Horne of Theatre and Dance.  Both are experts in Shakespeare and drama, and each have received both the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the UB Meyerson Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring.

Schedule of Performances at Staunton:

  • 3/17/20: William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
  • 3/18/20: William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 (dress rehearsal)
  • 3/19/20: William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing
  • 3/20/20: John Fletcher & Francis Beaumont, A King and No King
  • 3/21/20: William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1
  • 3/21/20: William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2

Project outcome

Individually-designed response papers, lesson plans, projects and/or formal papers.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Less than a semester
Start time February preparation, March trip, April outcome
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Activities are undertaken together, evaluated individually
Benefits Academic credit (3) and real life experience in theatre production
Who is eligible All undergraduate students, preferably with some experience reading Shakespeare and/or acting his plays

Core partners

  • UB CAS Experiential Learning
  • UB Department of English
  • UB Department of Theatre and Dance
  • UB Arts Collaboratory

Project mentors

Maria S. Horne

Associate Professor

Theatre and Dance

285 Alumni Arena

Phone: (716) 645-0580


Barbara Bono

Associate Professor Emerita


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • During the month of February students will read and discuss the five plays we will see in March under the direction of Professor Bono.
  • The preliminary syllabus, budget, and itinerary are available through Professor Bono at


Theatre and Dance, English