Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will debut the all-new “AST Education LAB”

Conway Institute of Music

CONWAY – The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will debut the all-new “AST Education LAB” this January with four classes: Middle School Acting, High School Acting, “Bard Babies” (a class for ages 4 through 6), and a stage combat class. The middle and high school classes will focus on acting and performance; the Bard Babies class will lead students through imaginative play with games, improvisations, and creative expression with a classical twist; and the stage combat class will focus on unarmed combat.

Teaching artists for the Education LAB have credits from all over the country.

“We are blessed to have such high quality educators teaching with us this year. Not only are they amazing artists in their own right, their commitment to student success and enjoyment is truly impressive,” said AST Managing Director, Chad Bradford.

The High School class will be taught by Lauren Carlton (MFA, Texas Tech) whose teaching credits include the American Shakespeare Center, Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre and Academy, Ars Nova School for the Arts, and Kansas Thespians. Middle school students will be taught by Emily Swenskie(MFA, Texas Tech) whose teaching credits include The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, The Paramount Arts Center, and the Girl Scouts for Ohio’s Heartland, among others. Bard Babies will be co-taught with Swenskie and AST Producing Associate, Katie Aschbrenner, who most recently worked with the education department at TRIKE Theatre in Northwest Arkansas. All classes will be assisted by AST artist and UA Little Rock graduate, Essence Robinson.

YouTube player

The 6-week course will be held on Saturday mornings from January 14th through February 18th with the Bard Babies class beginning at 9:00 am, followed by classes for middle and high school students at 10:00 am. Class size is limited and AST is offering an early bird special of 10% off for students enrolling before January 1st. Class descriptions, tuition information, and enrollment details are available at For questions please contact Katie Aschbrenner (

The Winter LAB will also feature the first installment of the newly dubbed “Combat LAB,” in partnership with Bear Brawlers, the UCA Theatre Stage Combat club. It is hosted by AST Artistic Associate and UCA Associate Professor, Chris Fritzges. The Combat LAB will focus on unarmed combat and will allow students the opportunity to be certified in unarmed stage combat by the Society of American Fight Directors.

“I’m thrilled to continue bringing in world class artists to our community for an opportunity you can’t get anywhere else in the state!” said Fritzges. “Stage combat training for theatre, film, and television is a great skill to have as an actor because it teaches the student to freely use their voice and body to aid in storytelling.”

The class will be taught by David Sterritt (MFA, Wayne State University). Sterritt has trained around the globe in cities like Atlanta and Moscow with Russia’s legendary Moscow Art Theatre. Sterritt’s fight credits include theatres like Georgia Shakespeare, the Alliance Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Tavern, to name a few.

Combat LAB classes are open to students 18 years old and up and run from January 2nd to January 8th from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Tuition for the class will be free for all UCA students and UCA alumni. Tuition for other students will be $100 and will be collected on the first day of class.

“AST Education LAB” logo
“AST Education LAB”

Students may enroll by visiting and filling out an online form. Questions about the Combat LAB can be directed to Chris Fritzges (

All classes take place on the second floor of the Snow Fine Arts Building on the UCA campus.

Scroll to Top