[Brave Spirits has a] kick-ass mission.
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, many of which are forgotten works or rarely produced gems, BST strives to tear down the perception of these plays as proper and intellectual and instead use them to explore the boundaries of acceptable human behavior.
The four values that guide BST work are text, actor, women, and audience.
Text: Early modern text holds all the clues needed to perform the plays with truth and vitality. To uncover these clues and bring them to life, the BST process includes an examination of 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 – qualities embraced with equal relish in BST productions. In short the text is the basis of all BST work. Download a copy of the BST text work handbook.
Actor: The actor is at the center of the artistic process and BST seeks 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: BST believes in the 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, BST seeks to increase women’s access to and voice in the canon of great dramatic works. BST also strives to stage productions that focus on the traditionally silenced female narrative and question the patriarchal constructs present in these works.
Audience: The audience is the final ingredient needed to bring any play to life. In keeping with the early modern aesthetic, there is no fourth wall at BST productions and the audience is 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, BST strives to make these plays exciting, accessible, and relevant.
Leadership, Artistic Associates, and Staff
Charlene V. Smith
Producing Artistic Director
ACTING: Evadne (Maid’s Tragedy), Juliet, and Silvia/Lucetta (Two Gentlemen of Verona); DIRECTING: The Bloody Banquet (Co-Director), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Co-Director), Richard III, The Two Noble Kinsmen at BST; Richard II at Mary Baldwin College S&P; The Spanish Tragedy (Director) at Rude Mechanicals; A Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Assistant Director) at Virginia Shakespeare Festival. TRAINING: London Dramatic Academy; BA in Theatre and English from the College of William and Mary; MLitt and MFA in Shakespeare in Performance from Mary Baldwin College in partnership with the American Shakespeare Center. charlenevsmith.com
Artistic Associate/Graphic Designer
Jessica is an actor, director, graphic designer, and mother to the best little man ever. For BST she has performed in Romeo and Juliet and The Bloody Banquet and directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has performed across the country and with the American Shakespeare Center (Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love’s Labours Lost); The Theater at Monmouth (Antony and Cleopatra, The Liar, As You Like It); 1st Stage (The Violet Hour, Holiday). She works as a graphic designer at Signature Theatre. She is proud to be a part of BST and its incredible mission.
is a director, dramaturg, and researcher specializing in early modern drama. Her D.C.-area assistant directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mary Stuart at the Folger Theatre, and Mary-Kate Olsen Is In Love at Studio Theatre 2nd Stage. She was the Assistant Director / Tour Manager for the ASC’s Stark Raving Sane Tour. Dramaturgy credits include The Maid’s Tragedy and Arden of Faversham at Brave Spirits; Edward II and The Comedy of Errors for the Shakespeare Institute Players; King Lear, Love’s Labours Lost, and Der Bestrafte Brudermord for the Mary Baldwin College MFA program. Cassie has been an invited speaker at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Folger Fridays series, the Royal Shakespeare Company Summer School, and the Digital.Humanities @ Oxford Summer School. She holds MLitt and MFA degrees from Mary Baldwin College, and a PhD from The Shakespeare Institute, where her study was fully funded by the University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law.
Resident Lighting Designer
For BST: Antony and Cleopatra, Henri IV (1&2), The Bloody Banquet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream & The Two Noble Kinsman. Recent designs elsewhere: Chalk (We Happy Few), Glacier (Movius Dance), Kick Before You Drown (Steal A Step), Resident lighting designer for alight dance theater, lighting design for Bowen McCauley’s premiere of Ars Amatoria, Festival Designer for Intersections 2016 and LD for Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival (Athenaeum Theater). He is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Contemporary American Theater Festival and on the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland TDPS department. For more updates: https://www.facebook.com/JbrinkeLighting/.
For BST: Clarence, Ratcliffe, Dorset (Richard III), Snug the Joiner (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), the Jailer’s Daughter (The Two Noble Kinsmen), and Annabella (‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore). http://www.jennaberk.com.
For BST: Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet) and Giovanni (‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore). http://www.dannycackley.com.
For BST: Murderer, Duchess of York, Lord Grey (Richard III). creates and develops devised, experimental and site-specific theatre. She was Co-Artistic Director of experimental theatre group, Helsinki Syndrome, presenting works from Seattle to London, including New York’s Ontological-Hysteric Incubator, and a founding member of HKPG (High Kindergarten Performance Group). She has assisted in devising works with Washington DC’s Emma Jaster (To Know a Veil), Philadelphia’s Penn Dixie Productions (Animal Animal Mammal Mine) and most recently worked with Natsu Onada Power (The T Party). Rachel received her MFA in Lecoq-based Actor-created Theatre and trained in Lecoq-based devising and physical theatre at LISPA, the London International School of Performing Arts.
Resident Fight Director
Casey staged violence for BST’s The Maid’s Tragedy, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and Co-Directed The Bloody Banquet. A Certified Fight Director with the Society of American Fight Directors, Casey has arranged fights for more than four hundred productions throughout the country, including extensive work with the Folger, Round House, Signature, and Rorschach Theatres. He designed blood effects for Faction of Fools’ Titus Andronicus and Constellation Theatre’s Lieutenant of Inishmore, as well as the Men at Arms: Reforged web series, and he serves as an audition choreographer for Marvel Universe Live. Casey has been an instructor at Catholic University, the University of Mary Washington, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, as well as a guest artist for Fight Directors Canada and the Nordic Stagefight Society. He founded and fostered Tooth & Claw Combat Arts into the largest stage combat training program in the DC area: www.toothandclawcombat.com
Resident Dramaturg/Production Photographer
is a dramaturg, theatre practitioner, teacher, and scholar of early modern drama. Her previous dramaturgy credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost (dir. Dr Jacquelyn Bessell, ASC), and The Tempest (dir. Shakespeare’s Globe Associate Giles Block, ASC). Following several years of research on Dekker and Middleton’s The Bloody Banquet, she worked as a production dramaturg with BST for the first professional staging of the play in almost four hundred years. Claire received her BA in English from Washington College and her MLitt in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College in association with the American Shakespeare Center.
previously appeared with Brave Spirits Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and as Margaret in Richard III. Local performances include work with 1st Stage, Taffety Punk, dogandponydc, and STC Education. Regional performance credits include work with Gulfshore Playhouse and the American Shakespeare Center. As a director and teacher, Jessica has worked with theaters and schools across the United States, Europe and Asia. She holds a BFA in Acting from the Catholic University in America, and an MFA in Classical Acting from the STC’s Academy of Classical Acting, George Washington University. Jessica is a member of SAG-AFTRA.
James T. Majewski
For BST he has played Amintor (The Maid’s Tragedy), Master Quickly, Archbishop of York (Henri IV), Zenarchus, Lapyrus (The Bloody Banquet). James performed in WSC Avant-Bard’s Les Justes, and originated the role of The Young Man in Factory 449’s premier production of Magnificent Waste. Additional credits include the titular role in Lean and Hungry Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as roles in Hamlet, Macbeth, and Twelfth Night (VpStart Crow). James holds a degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical College Josephinum, and received his training both from the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and at George Mason University under the direction of Ed Gero.He is pursuing an MFA at CalArts.
Graduating from the Catholic University of America with her MFA in Acting in 2015 Briana’s passion for classical theater and text led her to play Hotspur, Coleville, Clarence, and of course Mouldy in Brave Spirit’s Henri IV: the Re-Gendered Henry IV Repertory. Other DC and MD credits include: Mercutio and Friar Lawrence in Juliet and Romeo with Catholic University, Portia in The Merchant of Venice with Catholic University, Dori in Danny Boy with Unexpected Stage Company, Countess and Mariana in All’s Well that Ends Well with Blood & Courage: the under-30 company of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet with Shakespeare in the Parks Prince George’s County, Dusty in Stone Tape Party with NuSass productions, First Witch in Macbeth with Theatre Prometheus, and Emilia in Othello with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.
Artistic Associate, Co-Founder
is a classically-trained actor, teaching artist, and director, and a proud Equity Membership Candidate. For BST: Aspatia (The Maid’s Tragedy); Julia, Co-Director (The Two Gentlemen of Verona); Lady Anne, etc. (Richard III); Director (Romeo and Juliet). Other credits include: American Shakespeare Center, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare East; and Marina in Pericles at Mary Baldwin College (MFA production directed by Tina Packer). 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 www.victoriareinsel.com
Resident Music Director
Music direction for BST includes: Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Two Noble Kinsmen, The Maid’s Tragedy. Zach recently performed in The Lady with the Little Dog (Quotidian), War of the Worlds (SCENA), Friendship Betrayed (WSC Avant Bard), and Madwoman of Chaillot (WSC Avant Bard). He also directed Family Portrait for the DC Music Theatre Workshop.
Ian Blackwell Rogers
For BST: Duke, Antonio, Launce (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Stanley, Tyrrel, Lord Mayor (Richard III), Theseus, Oberon (Two Noble Kinsmen/Midsummer Night’s Dream) and the King (The Maid’s Tragedy). Ian is a Resident Company Member of Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, where he’s been privileged to undertake many wonderful roles in BSF’s stripped-down, Shakespearean staging conditions, playing Hamlet, Macbeth, Prospero, Shylock, Petruchio, Malvolio, Touchstone, and Leontes. Ian is a member of Pallas Theatre Collective, where he played Adolphus Cusins in Major Barbara, and Gonzalo in The Tempest. He played Edgar Allan Poe in A Dream Within a Dream, an immersive theater project for the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival. He’s also worked with Scena Theatre, in Public Enemy, The Plague, The Chairs, and The Insect Play.
Board of Directors
Valerie DuBreuil, Kelly Elliott, Briana Manente, Amanda Michaels, Melissa J. Sites, Charlene V. Smith, Keith Smith, and Shelby Sours
Brave Spirits Theatre is thrilled to be one of the Folger Shakespeare Library‘s theatre partners. The Folger is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art, the Folger serves a wide audience of scholars, visitors, teachers, students, families, and theater- and concert-goers. Through this partnership, we will be able to share these resources with our audiences. One of these resources, Folger Digital Texts, is where we start our script editing process for productions of Shakespeare’s plays.
Brave Spirits Theatre is proud to be a member of The Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). 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.