Department of English

Shakespeare at Winedale

Students circle under a tree.
Students gather under a tree before a performance. Photo by Mark Metts.
Founded by Professor James B. Ayres on the belief that the best way to study Shakespeare’s plays is to perform them, Shakespeare at Winedale offers students a unique opportunity to explore these rich and complex texts through the creative act of play. Established in 1970 as a UT English course, Shakespeare at Winedale has grown into a year-round program reaching many different groups.  Students in the summer program spend two months in the Texas countryside, studying and performing three plays in the converted nineteenth-century barn that is our theatre.  A spring semester version of the course is offered on the UT campus, with performances at Winedale.  Camp Shakespeare provides a two-week experience of learning and playing Shakespeare for 10-16 year-olds.  Our outreach program brings Shakespeare into the classrooms of elementary school students throughout central Texas, and brings those students to Winedale to perform.  Our program also includes visits by British Shakespeareans to the Winedale theatre barn and special performances in other venues, including an annual tour.


Students study a Shakespearean genre or topic and perform a play or plays representative of it.  The course is conducted in Austin but students spend three weekends at Winedale working intensively on the plays.  The course culminates in two or three public performances at end of April.


Students live for nine weeks at the Winedale Historical Center, where they study and perform three Shakespeare plays.  The course begins with a month of independent study, reading and writing.  The course culminates in 24 public performances.  We end with some touring performances; in 2010 we toured to London and the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia, and had the chance to explore the plays on the stages of the Globe and the Blackfriars, reconstructions of Shakespeare's two playhouses.  Past summer tours have also included performances at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.


This two-week residential camp for young people, ages 10-16, is dedicated to exploring a Shakespearean play through performance. Camp takes place in the small, rural town of Round Top, Fayette County, Texas, with daily activity at the University of Texas Winedale Historical Center, located five miles away. Camp Shakespeare is a celebration of the creative process. Students will explore language and character through daily performance, culminating in a public presentation of their work.


Shakespeare at Winedale Outreach is a Language Arts enrichment program that provides opportunities for meaningful learning and academic excellence for Texas schoolchildren in grades K-12, with a special focus on both emerging and advanced readers in grades 3 through 8, and on students in low-income communities. Through our many programs – classroom visits and workshops, in-school residencies, special “Day Out with Shakespeare” trips to the UT Winedale Historical Center, and the Festival of Play celebration at Winedale in late April – our aim is to empower young students by giving them the chance to make Shakespeare their own through study, memorization, interpretation and group performance.  By doing this, we hope to foster in young people an early appreciation of poetic and heightened language, to give them a strengthened sense of self-confidence when speaking in front of others, and to provide a head start on a sometimes daunting component of high school and university curriculum.  

To find out more, visit the Shakespeare at Winedale website.

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  • Department of English

    University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street B5000
    Calhoun Hall, Room 226
    Austin, Texas 78712-1164