Brave Spirits Theatre is dedicated to plays from the era of verse and violence which contrast the baseness of humanity with the elegance of poetry. By staging dark, visceral, intimate productions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, we strive to tear down the perception of these plays as proper and intellectual and instead use them to explore the boundaries of acceptable human behavior.
Text: We are unabashedly obsessed with language. We believe the text itself holds all the clues we need to perform an early modern play with truth and vitality. We examine imagery, verse, rhetorical devices, and embedded stage directions. Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote beautiful imagery, but they also used language that was bawdy, gritty, and realistic; we embrace both with equal relish. In short, we trust the text and it is the basis of our work. Click here to download a copy of our text work handbook.
Actor: We are a company that believes the actor is at the center of the artistic process. We seek out artists who are willing to take creative risks, who are bold and courageous, who are ensemble-driven, and who are professionally-minded in their commitment to the art. The actor is the vessel through which the text comes to life, and as such the actor must be intellectually, emotionally, and physically adept.
Women: Brave Spirits believes we have an ethical responsibility to address the disparity of the female presence in classical theatre. Though women make up 51% of the population, only 16% of Shakespeare’s characters are female. By engaging in cross-gender casting and re-gendering characters, we seek to increase women’s access to and voice in the canon of great dramatic works. We also strive to stage productions that focus on the traditionally silenced female narrative and question the patriarchal constructs present in these works.
Audience: We feel that the audience is the final ingredient needed to bring the play to life. In keeping with the early modern aesthetic, there is no fourth wall, and we welcome the audience as an active participant in the world of the play. Actors may invite the audience to turn into a raucous mob, their confidants, or the butt of a joke. By playing with the audience rather than to them, we make these plays exciting, accessible, and relevant.
For more information about working with Brave Spirits, please see our contact page.
Charlene V. Smith, Producing Artistic Director
is an actor, director, and scholar, living in the DC metropolitan area since 2006. Her acting credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Margaret in Margaret: A Tyger's Heart, Dr. Faustus in Dr. Faustus, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Isabella in Measure for Measure, Macduff in Macbeth, Rosaline/Costard in Love's Labour's Lost, Portia in Julius Caesar, Millie in Picnic, and Helen in The Cripple of Inishmaan. She played Witch 1 in Push/Pull Theater Company's critically acclaimed production of Macbeth at the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival. She has also performed in the premiere of two works by John Moriogello, Jack the Ticket Ripper and A Thing For Redheads. For Brave Spirits, she has directed The Two Noble Kinsmen, Richard III, and co-directed The Bloody Banquet. Her other directing credits include Richard II and Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and she has worked as an assistant director for The Comedy of Errors and A Long Days Journey into Night. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William and Mary with a BA in Theatre and English and studied at the London Dramatic Academy. She has a MLitt and MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College in partnership with the American Shakespeare Center. Visit her website at
Victoria Reinsel, Associate Artistic Director
is a classically-trained actor, teaching artist, and director, and a proud Equity Membership Candidate. Acting credits include: Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, Lavinia inTitus Andronicus, Anne Page/William Page/Rugby in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lady Mortimer/Peto in Henry IV, Part 1, Cloris/Pallas/Luna in The Rehearsal, First Fairy/Moth in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sordido in The Revenger’s Tragedy at American Shakespeare Center (ASC); Soothsayer in Julius Caesar and Maria (u/s)/Ensemble in Twelfth Night at Orlando Shakespeare Theater (OST); Woman 2 in the D.C. premiere of My First Time at Rasa Arts Collective; Arviragus/Helen/1st Citizen in Cymbeline at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC); Henry VI’s Consciousness in Hal Harry Henry at Shakespeare East; Caliban/Ferdinand/Antonio in The Tempest and Norfolk in Henry VIII with The University Wits; and Marina in Pericles at Mary Baldwin College (MBC; MFA production directed by Tina Packer). Other credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Co-Director) OST’s The Young Company; The Merry Wives of Windsor (Text Coach) at OST (Dir: Jim Helsinger); Cymbeline (Dramaturg) at CSC; The Insatiate Countess (Workshop Director) with MBC’s M.Litt/MFA program; and Much Ado About Nothing (Director) at Marlboro College. Victoria holds a MFA and MLitt in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance with a concentration in acting from MBC in partnership with the ASC, and a BA with High Honors in Theatre/Literature from Marlboro College. She has trained at Shakespeare & Company, OST, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and the British-American Drama Academy in London. Visit her website at
Cassie Ash, Company Dramaturg
Jason Aufdem-Brinke, Resident Lighting Designer
Casey Kaleba, Resident Fight Director
Claire Kimball, Company Dramaturg
James T. Majewski
Ian Blackwell Rogers
Abigail Issac Fine
Brave Spirits Theatre is proud to be a member of The Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). For more information visit www.stahome.org.
STA was established to provide a forum for the artistic, managerial, educational leadership for theatres primarily involved with the production of the works of William Shakespeare; to discuss issues and methods of work, resources, and information; and to act as an advocate for Shakespearean productions and training.
Brave Spirits is proud to be a part of the diverse theatrical landscape that is the DC Metropolitan region and a member of theatreWashington. Together, with the region’s dynamic professional theatre community, theatreWashington creates and invigorates audiences, strengthens the region’s theatrical workforce, and celebrates excellence on Washington stages to build and an even more vibrant community for all.
We believe strongly in the smart and curious actor. We love learning about the early modern theatre and researching critical and performative histories of the plays we perform. Through such investigations, we become better artists. To that end, here is our (by no means complete!) list of recommended reading.
Barton, John. Playing Shakespeare.
Berry, Cicely. The Actor and the Text.
Crystal, David. Think on My Words.
Kaiser, Scott. Mastering Shakespeare.
Kaiser, Scott. Shakespeare's Wordcraft.
Hall, Peter. Shakespeare's Advice to the Players.
Linklater, Kristin. Freeing Shakespeare's Voice.
Rodenburg, Patsy. Speaking Shakespeare.
Wright, George T. Shakespeare's Metrical Art.
HISTORICAL and THEORETICAL
Callaghan, Dympna. A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare.
Orgel, Stephen. Impersonations.
Palfrey, Simon and Tiffany Stern. Shakespeare in Parts.
Shapiro, James. 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare.
Shapiro, James. Contested Will.
Taylor, Gary. Revinventing Shakespeare.
Shakespeare in Production
The Arden 3rd Edition
The RSC Shakespeare
The Bedford Shakespeare