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February 17 & 18
12:00 PM - 6:00 PM Saturday and Sunday




Arnie Burton, Mary Testa, Carson Elrod, and Tracy Bersley


‘And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days’


Love’s Labour Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and….Romeo & Juliet??


For four hundred years the comedies of William Shakespeare have had us rolling in the aisles. But Shakespeare’s comedic genius is not limited to the plays with happy endings - It can be found in all his works, if you know how to look.  Come learn how to find Shakespeare’s humor in the twitter-pated titillation of Romeo & Juliet’s Balcony scene and how the comedy changes based on the age and personalities of the actors living the roles.


Make it jump off the page with the brilliant movement coach Tracy Bersley and Master Clowns Mary Testa, Arnie Burton, and Carson Elrod,- the wisest fools that New York has to offer. Whether you’re interested in brushing up your comedic chops for that upcoming show or simply in having a good laugh this is the intensive for you.


Essential Question:

How do actors use Shakespeare’s text along with their physical instruments to fully explore the comedic potential of a scene? How can we utilize those same skills to be more effective actors, listeners, and creative communicators?


Course Objectives:

  • Increase the flexibility of your physical and vocal instrument

  • Develop a greater awareness of your body and voice

  • Grow one’s understanding of comedic timing and tricks.

  • Explore exercises for delivering language from Shakespeare’s plays with nuance and truth

  • Explore how Shakespeare utilizes prose or verse to create complex characters

  • Improve one's Public Speaking


Enduring Understandings:

Shakespearean Comedy is ubiquitous. It is rooted in Truth and Timing. A flexible, confident voice and body are essential for effective presentation of a character on the stage. A deep understanding of Shakespeare’s prose and verse, his use of rhythms and rhetoric is essential to finding the timing, honesty and humor in his plays.


Schedule and Materials



TRACY BERSLEY has worked at such institutions as Lincoln Center, The Public, BAM, Lortel Theatre, Second Stage, Primary Stages, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown and many Off-Broadway companies, such as The Civilians, Red Bull Theatre, The Keen Company and Clubbed Thumb.  For Red Bull, Tracy has choreographed Pericles, Revenger’s Tragedy, Duchess of Malfi, Witch of Edmunton (Lortel Nomination), Volpone and The Changeling; other shows include On the Levee, (Lincoln Center, LCT3), Paris Commune (Civilians/Public/BAM/Arts Emerson); Love Child (New World Stages/Primary Stages). As a professor, she has taught, directed and/or choreographed at NYU, Purchase College, Columbia/Barnard and Juilliard.  Tracy received her MFA in Directing from Syracuse, is a guest lecturer at Yale School of Drama and Princeton University, and is currently the head of movement for the MFA program at UNC Chapel Hill/Playmakers Rep. She is also a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers and a Drama League Fellow.

ARNIE BURTON: Red Bull Theater: The Government Inspector, Mystery of Irma Vep. BROADWAY credits: Machinal, The 39 Steps, Peter and the Starcatcher, A Free Man of Color and Amadeus.  Off-Broadway includes The Explorers Club (MTC), The Temperamentals (Drama Desk Award, Ensemble), The Last Sunday in June,  Mere Mortals, The Jew of Malta/The Merchant of Venice (TFANA), Peter and the Starcatcher (NYTW), The Venetian Twins (Pearl).  U.K.: The Merchant of Venice (RSC). Regional: All The Way (A.R.T.), The 39 Steps (Huntington, Irne Award, Best Supporting Actor), The Santaland Diaries, Taming of the Shrew, The Seagull (Old Globe), All in the Timing (Geffen Theater, L.A.),  also the Alley Theater, Philadelphia Theater CO., Berkeley Rep..  TV appearances include; “Blue Bloods,” “Frasier,” “Law & Order,” “L&O Criminal Intent,” “Hope & Faith,” “White Collar,” “Caroline in the City,” “Life on Mars,” “6 Degrees.”  Film: The Invention of Lying, Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Game 6, Igby Goes Down.

CARSON ELROD: BROADWAY: Peter And The Starcatcher, Reckless, Noises Off. LINCOLN CENTER: The Merry Widow (The Met) OFF-BROADWAY: Important Hats of the 20th Century, The Explorer’s Club (Lortel Nomination), Comic Potential, House/Garden, Based On A Totally True Story, (Manhattan Theatre Club) Lives Of The Saints, All In The Timing (Primary Stages) The Heir Apparent, The Liar (Classic Stage Company), The Tempest, Measure For Measure, All’s Well That Ends Well (The PUBLIC/NYSF) Waiting For Godot (NY Fringe). REGIONAL: Williamstown, Barrington Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, A.R.T., LaJolla Playhouse, Shakespeare and Company, Baltimore Center Stage, Center Theatre Group, Yale Repertory Theatre. TV: Elementary, High Maintenance, Deadbeats, 30 Rock, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Person of Interest. FILM: Kissing Jessica Stein, Wedding Crashers. AEA since 2000. BA: University of Kansas MFA: NYU Grad Acting.

MARY TESTA: Two Tony nominations, two Lucille Lortel nominations, five Drama Desk nominations, two Drama League nominations, an Obie Award for her performances in From Above and On the Town, and a special Drama Desk award celebrating Queen of the Mist and ‘Three Decades of Outstanding Work.’ Broadway: Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu, Chicago, 42nd St, Marie Christine, On the Town, …Forum, The Rink, Marilyn, Barnum. Opera: Anna Nicole/BAM. Off-Broadway includes The Portuguese Kid, The Government Inspector, Orange Julius, First Daughter Suite, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Queen of the Mist, Love Loss.., Regrets Only, See What I Wanna See, First Lady Suite, String of Pearls, A New Brain, Tartuffe, On the Town, In Trousers. Films include: Big Stone Gap, The Mother (, Eat Pray Love, The Bounty Hunter, The Out-of-Towners, Sleepers. Much Television including recurring on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Whoopi; and guest spots on Bull, Difficult People, Two Broke Girls, White Collar and Nurse Jackie. Featured on twelve original cast albums, Mary's album with Michael Starobin, Have Faith, is available now on Sh-K Boom Records, iTunes and Amazon.





10:00 - 12:00: Open rehearsal space for partner work

12:00 - 2:00: Movement with Tracy Bersley

2:00 - 3:00: Meal Break

3:00 - 6:00: Scene Study with Mary Testa



10:00 - 12:00: Open rehearsal space for partner work

12:00 - 2:00: Clown Work with Carson Elrod

2:00 - 3:00: Meal Break

3:00 - 6:00: Scene Study with Arnie Burton



A scene will be assigned a week before the class. Prepare it as best you are able. Memorization is encouraged but not required.




A hard copy of the scene . A journal is recommended to record notes and observations. Wear comfortable clothing that you can move and breathe freely in. A water bottle is recommended. 


Contact Nathan Winkelstein with any questions.

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