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Shakespeare Application Advice: Work Samples


Performance of The Taming of The Shrew. Photo by Roger Mastroianni, courtesy of Great Lakes Theater.

Preparing your grant application for Shakespeare in American Communities can be overwhelming. We’re here to help! Over the next few months, we’ll tackle some of the trickier components of the application, providing our advice based on years of experience reviewing applications and compiling panelist feedback.

Application Component: Five-minute work sample

First, we’ll state the obvious: work samples are incredibly important! They give the panelists a real glimpse of the work you are doing both on and off the stage. Even if you write beautiful, eloquent narratives, your work sample could potentially make or break an application.

Common problems we see in a work sample:

  • It is several years old. If you have been submitting the same video for more than 2-4 years, it is time to update it. At best, the panelists view old work samples as inaccurate. At worst, they view them as lazy.
  • It doesn’t reflect the facts that are in your narratives. Do you write about the importance of diversity and inclusion in your casting? Make sure to illustrate diversity in your work sample. Do you talk about your touring productions? Show us footage of your touring productions.
  • It is too short or too long. We request a five-minute work sample. If runs a few seconds short or long, no worries! But if it’s less than four minutes or more than six, the panelists will notice and wonder why.
  • It doesn’t include classical text. This is a biggie. We don’t necessarily need to hear 5 whole minutes of Shakespearean soliloquys, but seeing 2 minutes of your production of Steel Magnolias won’t tell us anything about your company’s commitment to or ability with classical texts.
  • It’s a marketing video or trailer.

Quick tips:

  • Start with at least 45 seconds of a scene with classical text. During panel deliberations, the panelists view the first 60 seconds of your work sample, so these first impressions are important. Do not include a title slide.
  • Include multiple clips/scenes. Variety is great! Show us a minute or two of comedy, then some tragedy. Show us a large group scene, then an intimate scene. But most importantly, make sure your samples are representative of the work for which you are applying.
  • The sample does not need to portray the Shakespeare play(s) proposed in the application. It should be representative of the quality and artistic merit of your company’s work.
  • End the work sample with an example of your educational activities, if possible. The panelists love to see how your workshops, talkbacks, or residencies play out in real life.

Creating an unlisted YouTube video

An unlisted video is a different type of private video. “Unlisted” means that only people who have the link to the video can view it. We will share this link with the advisory panel for their independent review. An unlisted video will not appear in any of YouTube’s public spaces, such as search results, your channel, or the browse page. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Sign into your YouTube account.
  2. Go to your “My Videos” page.
  3. Select the video which you’d like to make unlisted. Preferred file format to upload to YouTube is an MP4.
  4. Go to the “Privacy” section of the page. There you’ll see the option to make the video as unlisted.
  5. Don’t forget to click the “Save Changes” button. Once you’ve done this, it will be an unlisted video.

Keep an eye on Shakespeare News for more application advice.

Still have questions? Contact us!
Christy Dickinson, senior program director, 612.238.8019
Ellen DeYoung, program associate, 612.238.8028
[email protected]