Skip to main content

This is your Donation message.

Home » News » FSU/Asolo Conservatory Alums Make Strong Showing in Massachusetts Shakespeare Productions

FSU/Asolo Conservatory Alums Make Strong Showing in Massachusetts Shakespeare Productions

Published August 2, 2022
Two actors in brightly colored costumes perform a Shakespearian play.

Naire Poole (MFA Acting 2021) and Lawrence James (MFA Acting 2019) as Margaret and Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Four recent graduates of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training in Sarasota are appearing in summer productions of Shakespeare & Company, based in Lenox, Massachusetts this summer and a fifth is directing in their education program. The Company has a long history of connections to the Conservatory.

“Shakespeare & Company is one of the best-known institutions dedicated to the works of Shakespeare in the country,” said Andrei Malaev-Babel, Director of the Conservatory. “We are proud of our close relationship with them, and very excited to have so many of our graduates participating in productions as part of this prestigious company.”

Jonathan Epstein, Teaching Professor of Classical Performance at the Conservatory since 2013, has served as an actor, director and teacher with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts for over 30 years. The renowned Shakespearean actor and scholar is keen to recruit actors from the Conservatory to perform with the Company.

Shakespeare & Company offers performance, education, and actor-training opportunities year-round, and attracts more than 40,000 patrons annually, with a core of more than 150 artists. The Company performs Shakespeare and new plays of “social and political significance.”

“It’s a great joy to see our Asolo actors welcomed so warmly and performing so brilliantly at the Theatre which has been my artistic home since 1987, and which was the wellspring of so many of the approaches they encountered at FSU/Asolo,” said Epstein.

A smiling Black woman wears a white and red striped apron. She is holding one large tomato in each of her hands.

Bonita Jackson (MFA Acting 2021) in her one-woman show, “This Soil, These Seeds”

After graduating from the Conservatory in 2019, Sara Linares worked with the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA before making her way to Massachusetts. She credits her training with Epstein for helping her to gain employment at the prestigious theater. Now, Linares serves as a Director in both Riotous Youth and The Fall Festival of Shakespeare, which are part of Shakespeare & Company’s internationally celebrated Education program.

“Professor Epstein and Professor Malaev-Babel both  taught us that we should maintain a sense of wonder about us, and always approach the world with curiosity,” said Linares. “I think that is particularly important with working with children, in order to teach them that anything is possible—that they are able to go beyond the status quo.”

Lawrence James (2019) and Naire Poole (2021) are cast in Much Ado About Nothing, playing now through August 8.

Bonita Jackson (2021) recently performed her own work, This Soil, This Seeds…, which explores the mother-daughter relationship, as part of the theatre’s “Plays in Process” series.

Ally Farzetta (2015) is appearing in Measure for Measure, playing August 19 through September 18 at the Tina Packer Playhouse.

Epstein is appearing in A Walk in the Woods, which will be playing outdoors in the company’s Roman Garden Theatre through September 4.

To learn more about Shakespeare & Company and see the full schedule of performances, visit