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New American Shakespeare Center director brings acting, directing and educational chops to role

While Vanessa Morosco is settling in as the new executive director of the American Shakespeare Center, local fans may remember her in a different role. Make that about two dozen roles, actually.

Morosco first came to the Staunton center in 2002, its inaugural season under its present name and mission, and performed in more than 25 productions there. She is bringing experience as an actor and director, and a master’s degree in ethics, to the craft of bringing William Shakespeare’s words to today’s audiences.

“I was in the company at that moment of renaming, of reimagining, who we are,” Morosco said of ASC’s transition from traveling company to a “center of discovery” respected around the world for its Blackfriars Playhouse. “I feel very connected to this company.”

She is relocating from New York just in time for the opening of “Julius Caesar” on Thursday; the production runs through June 8. Shakespeare Uncorked is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 with Blue Mountain Brewery and 6:30 p.m. March 9 with Barrel Oak Winery and Brewery.

“Pride and Prejudice” will open on Feb. 1, and the Bard & Bites 2024 event with “shareable snacks” is set to precede performances at 1 p.m. Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and 1 p.m. Feb. 25.

Next will be “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which opens March 14.

Morosco also develops drama-based training that helps people learn about unconscious bias, change management and equity, diversity and inclusion. She is the co-founder of the 50/50 Shakespeare Project, which works to support gender equity in Shakespeare’s plays. As the theater world continues to face challenges in a post-pandemic environment marked by slowly recovering attendance levels and generational differences, she is ready to see people come together at ASC.

“Shakespeare himself was more interested in characters and the debate and what it means to laugh and cry in the same moment,” Morosco said. “He really trusted his actors and his audiences. I’d really like to see us lean into that.

“How can we share an experience with someone we may not be aligned with? Someone next to you may have different values. I love to be surrounded by a roomful of people with diversity of ideas. The goal is to share a vision without necessarily having the same opinions.”

“I feel we are in a moment of innovation,” Morosco said, adding that she looks forward to advancing Shakespeare’s — and ASC’s —”vision of serving everyone so that there is something for everyone.”

For tickets and information, go to; call (540) 851-1733 or (877) MUCH-ADO.


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