Apprentice Company Program

ApCo members in '17 Apprentice Company

"I have learned SO much more than I could have imagined during my time in ApCo! Santiago Sosa knows exactly how to meet each actor where they are, and has pushed each and every one of us to new levels.  I am incredibly thankful for this summer of training."       -Amanda Bell, ApCo Class of 2017

"Learning from incredible theatre-makers during my time in the Apprentice Company; training intensively in Shakespeare has made me a stronger all-around actor. It was a wonderful continuation of my post undergraduate studies in Theatre Performance; furthering my abilities as a professional actor." -Morgan Davis, ApCo Class of 2016

"The Apprentice Company has made large impact on my growth as a professional actor. AppCo helps the students develop strong personal and working relationships with their peers as well as more experienced professional actors in both Nashville and the national theatre community. " -Jonah Jackson, ApCo Class of 2015

Apprentice Company (ApCo):

Every year, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival selects 14-16 talented theatre artists ages 13 years and older to perform in its Summer Shakespeare production and to take part in an intensive two-week training program. These students are known as the "Apprentice Company" and are selected based upon auditions in the spring.

Students who are cast in this company receive training from Nashville's finest professional teaching artists in:

Voice ~ Movement ~ Text Analysis ~ Stage Combat ~ Physical Improvisation ~ Suzuki ~ Dance ~ Monologue Preparation ~ Yoga

NPT's Arts Break Feature on Apprentice Company 2015 (Macbeth)

Scene Analysis and Text work with the 2016 Apprentice Company's production of Macbeth

Scene Analysis and Text work with the 2016 Apprentice Company's production of Macbeth

ApCo 2014

ApCo 2014

In addition to performing alongside some of Nashville’s most talented actors, apprentices gain hands-on experience working with The Festival’s technical staff in areas such as lighting, sound, and costuming. An important initiative of The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, the Apprentice Company is designed to both enhance understanding of Shakespearean works as well as train future leaders in Nashville’s cultural community.

The training is challenging, extremely rewarding, and intensely fun! Apprentices play supporting roles in the production and take on important backstage responsibilities as well. Please note: Summer Shakespeare is physically strenuous; middle Tennessee summers are intense and acting is a full-bodied commitment!

Please contact our Apprentice Company Director, Santiago Sosa, for more information:

2019 Auditions will be held April 26-28 (Sign Up). ApCo training will begin on June 24, 2019

2019 ApCo Schedule:

April 26, 27, 28
Click here to sign up

Apprentice Company Training:
First day of training: June 24

Monday - Saturday, July 15-August 14

Nashville at OneC1TY: August 15-September 22, Thursdays-Sundays and Monday Labor Day
Franklin Academy Park: September 26-29
Call time 4:30 pm-10pm

Tuition: $600 (Scholarships available)

Minimum age: 13 years old by July 2019

Participants must be available for all classes, rehearsals, and performances July through September unless any conflicts are cleared with the Apprentice Company Director, Santiago Sosa, at the time of the audition.


We asked: Where are you now? and How did being in the Apprentice Company impact your life?
Here are some of the inspiring stories we received.


Tristan Parks, 2011

In my case it has been 8 years since my apprenticeship during our 2011 run of Romeo & Juliet! SO many blessings! Since then I have completed my undergraduate degree at University of Memphis and now I will be walking away with my MFA from the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  

The apprenticeship with Nashville Shakes really cultivated my love for verse and shaped my trajectory of what it meant to be an immersive collaborator and theater maker. Community was formed and I carry that in to every creative space.

To those who are on the creative horizon of being an artist and theatre maker, always keep the love first. The love for art and for people is what brought you here, the love for the art and the people will keep you here.

"Wisely and slowly. They stumble that run fast." - Friar Lawrence,

Romeo + Juliet


Emily Marie Palmer, 2012

It’s really a bit impossible to overstate the positive impact that being part of the 2012 NSF Apprentice Company has had on my life in the years since. I made some of the most cherished memories — and cherished friends — of my life during those wonderful late summer weeks. The friendships I made there were truly life-changing, and life-giving, and they undoubtedly changed the trajectory of my creative and personal life.

While playing Hero in the 2012 production of “Much Ado About Nothing” with Nashville Shakes, I felt so welcomed, so encouraged, and so inspired by the artists and teachers I was privileged to work (and play!) with every single day. Spurred onward by this encouragement, I soon began pursuing an acting career in film and television. 

Most recently, I played a supporting role in a thriller (“Grand Isle”) alongside Kelsey Grammar and Nicolas Cage, and a small role in Disney’s Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt — both films are slated to be released next year. 


Alexandra Chopson, 2016

I was a member of the 2016 summer apprentice company. The training was especially long that year, as it was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, prompting Nashville Shakes to put on two productions: an all-apprentice show of Macbeth and a professionally-led The Comedy of Errors. I played multiple ensemble roles in both shows, and participated in the extended run in Franklin. The experience helped give me the confidence to make bold choices on stage, as is demanded by the outdoor setting, huge crowds, and non-traditional concepts. 

Currently, I am finishing by second year as a BFA Acting student in Ball State University's conservatory-style program. I could not be happier with the training I am receiving at BSU. The apprentice company training, along with physical, textual, and vocal work, included working on the sound crew and being interviewed by NPT. These experiences helped give me the confidence to go to a top-10 theatre school with my head held high. The apprentice company is hard work, and therefore incredibly rewarding, just like acting. 

My advice is to be kind. Everyone says it but few live it out. The Nashville Shakes crew are some of the kindest people I have met on my journey in the arts. You'd be surprised by how long a small act of kindness can stay with you. 

Find me on Instagram @alex.andra.grace


Isabel Webb, 2012

Since being in ApCo with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival (2012), I have continued with theatre and am a musical theatre major at Lipscomb University. The apprenticeship has formed in me a love of classical theatre, especially Shakespeare. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to always try to learn more. I would encourage any young theatre artist starting out to never hesitate and always take the leap. If there's an audition you're not sure if you should sign up for, sign up for it. Don't be afraid to take an opportunity because you think you're not good enough yet. That will come with experience, and you will continue to grow and get better throughout your career. Take chances, take risks, and play!


Emily Landham Mahoney

Since my time with Nashville Shakes, I have been all over, from Nashville to NYC to LA to Atlanta to DC and some other grand stops along the way.

By the end of the first class I took at NYU Tisch, I knew that my time at NSF’s ApCo prepared me beyond what most high school programs offer. I not only had a solid working knowledge of Shakespeare, but I had also been given some very profound professional habits that many of my colleagues had not yet learned. Thank you, NSF!

To a young theatre artist, I would say that your journey does not have to look like anyone else’s. Great theatre happens everywhere. So many young artists are heading to LA and NY these days-- that’s great! But, there are wonderful stories being old in the regions and you might find that a smaller city is a wonderful fit for you and your career. Own it. Love it. Invest in it. Do not only ask “what does this city have for me,” but also ask, “What can I give to this city?” Live like Juliet… with bounty “as boundless as the sea.” Oh, and it’s okay to change your mind. What you want today will likely change by next year and the year after that. Let it. That’s part of the fun! Theatre isn’t who you are, it’s what you do.


Gracie Bassett

As it would happen, I do use my experience with Nashville Shakespeare Festival as an eighth-grade English teacher at Montgomery Bell Academy. We are currently reading Julius Caesar, in fact. I also do a short sonnet unit, so some of the sonnet work I did as an apprentice is still relevant. Additionally, during most of my literature units, I have the boys up on their feet some, acting out scenes from our unit.