The Acting Company

History

Founded in 1972 by John Houseman and Margot Harley with Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone and other members of the first graduating class of Juilliard’s Drama Division, The Acting Company prides itself on delivering the highest quality, text-driven productions to under-served audiences while engaging students in the words of the world’s great playwrights. Our in-class workshops and residencies foster an appreciation for the art and craft of theater for a lifetime. 

In addition to producing over 40 Shakespearean productions, The Acting Company has presented numerous great classics by Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw, Sheridan, Marlowe and Moliere. In the late-1990’s we commissioned seven noted American playwrights—Eric Bogosian, William Finn, John Guare, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange and Wendy Wasserstein—to write short plays based on Shakespeare Sonnets. The success of Love’s Fire led us to develop other new plays adapted from classic literature including a recent series based on classic American literature by Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Studs Terkel and Willa Cather as well as James Fenimore Cooper, Henry James and Carson McCullers.

In addition to the nurturing of a national audience for the classics, The Acting Company has long been recognized for developing young American classical actors for the stage and other mediums. Besides our founding members – David Ogden Stiers and David Schramm in addition to Mr. Kline and Ms. LuPone – over 400 actors have begun their careers on tour with The Acting Company. Rainn Wilson, Frances Conroy, Jesse L. Martin, Jeffrey Wright, Harriet Harris and Hamish Linklater are but a few of today’s leading stage and screen actors who began as Acting Company members. 

Our actors, selected from the finest acting conservatories in America, have the opportunity to work with award-winning directors and designers of American theater allowing The Acting Company the unique ability to bring high-caliber productions of classic plays to rural theaters, under-served communities and college campuses. 

Our education programs include a full range of Master Classes (Page-to-Stage, Masks, Acting Clues in Shakespeare, Stage Combat, Movement, Improvisation, Comedy), student matinee performances, Q&A sessions, Shakespeare for Teachers professional development workshops, Primary Shakespeare for elementary school students and Learning Through Theater – weeklong and yearlong artistic residencies which bring a teaching artist alumnus of The Acting Company directly into the classroom to study one of the plays in our current repertory.

In recent years, we have produced one of the plays in our annual repertory in association with the renowned Guthrie Theater. These productions, heralded by audiences and critics alike, include Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Macbeth. This past season The Acting Company performed Desire, six plays by contemporary playwrights based on short stories by Tennessee Williams, at 59E59 Theaters in NYC.

For other Acting Company productions from previous years, click on About/Archive.

On the road and in the schools since 1972