Summer Shakespeare Intensive

Summer Shakespeare Intensive

Viroqua, Wisconsin – June 10-30, 2024

The Thoreau College Summer Shakespeare Intensive is a course designed for actors of all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re a high school or college student interested in studying Shakespeare outside of the school year, or an experienced actor seeking an opportunity to re-engage with actor training or add to your repertoire of skills, this course is for you.

Program participants will engage with an experimental and emerging initiative in American higher education, in the context of a vibrant rural culture in southwestern Wisconsin, while contributing to the development of the Viroqua Shakespeare Festival in its 3rd year. In addition to the course of study, the summer months in Viroqua, Wisconsin are packed with live music, farmers markets, craft fairs, and abundant opportunities for hiking, camping, swimming, and more.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until March 31st, 2024 or until the program is filled.
Standard Oil Octopus

2023 Viroqua Shakespeare Festival


Summer Shakespeare Intensive

The course will integrate offerings from guest instructors alongside core work of the Thoreau faculty, fellows, and our scholar-in-residence, together embracing an embodied rhythm of morning stretching and team communications, reading and discussion, cooking or baking, some shared meals, and physical activity through rehearsal, set building, acting study, and more. Theatrical activities may also be put on pause here and there, for a walk in the woods, or an arts and crafts workshop.

Course will proceed as follows:

A daily routine of morning stretching, check-ins, and team communications.

Basic carpentry, set construction and stagecraft in preparation for the production of Henry the Fifth.

Afternoon movement and voice workshops, as well as unstructured free time with opportunities for 1-on-1 sessions with the director and assistant director.

Participants will synthesize the fruits of their studies during evening rehearsals for Henry the Fifth, which will be presented during the final weekend of June at the 3rd Annual Viroqua Shakespeare Festival. 

Course Components:
  • Basic carpentry and stagecraft, Peter Daniels
  • Stage voice and movement, Instructor TBA
  • Henry V Rehearsal and Performance
    • Peter Daniels, Director
    • Liam McGilligan, Asst. Director and performing the role of King Henry the Fifth
Winter Cooking
Winter Campfire
Blackhawk Rock Winter Sunrise

Instructor: Peter Daniels

Facilitator Peter ‘pita’ Daniels brings a holistic commitment to creating healthy learning environments, influenced by his time in the scene shop at Montana State University teaching and learning stagecraft, as master carpenter for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, and technical director for the Milwaukee Players.  Currently, Daniels lives in Viroqua in service as Manager of the Landmark Center Theater, in a 100-year-old converted public school near the Thoreau Campus.

Philippe Mesly

Instructor: Liam McGilligan

Liam McGilligan is an actor, artist, scholar, and citizen from Madison, WI who first came to Viroqua as a student in the Thoreau College 2021-22 Metamorphosis Year Program. He holds a B.F.A. in Acting from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program, graduating in 2020. He is passionate about the arts and storytelling as a vehicle for developing greater self-knowledge and cultivating authentic community and relationships in these uncertain times!

Liam McGilligan

Thoreau Faculty

The Thoreau faculty, fellows, and scholar-in-residence are a dynamic intergenerational team that weather all seasons and all programs at Thoreau College.

This team will support the Shakespeare intensive by preparing healthy meals for the benefit and enjoyment of all, serving as hosts for guest faculty and students, participating in select courses, working backstage or otherwise, and more.

They will also continue to manage Thoreau facilities, gardens, and animal flocks, while undertaking curriculum and program planning for the Thoreau Fall Gap Semester Program.

Program Details


We are seeking up to 10 participants in this program, which will begin on Monday, June 10th and culminate with performances at the Thoreau College amphitheater on the weekend of June 28th, 29th, and 30th.

Participants should plan to arrive in Viroqua, Wisconsin no later than Sunday, June 9th.


Step 1: Application Form

Completing this form will tell us about your background and interest in our program.  To get a sense of you as a performer, you will be asked to submit a short video of yourself telling a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  Finally, we will ask you for the contact information for at least 1 personal reference, ideally a director or drama teacher.  

If you have any questions or would like a Word/PDF version of this application, contact us at

Step 2: Interview & References

If it seems like you might be a good fit for the program, you will be invited to participate in an interview with members of our Admissions Circle, which includes faculty and alumni of earlier programs. Interviews can take place in person or via Zoom as circumstances allow. Applicants who are able to visit us in Viroqua are encouraged to do so! During this phase we will also contact personal references submitted.

Step 3: Admission Decision and Further Coordination

Upon acceptance of offer, communications and arrangements will be made to coordinate travel and arrival, what to bring, what to expect about the town of Viroqua and where you will be staying, etc. A financial pledge agreement conversation will be initiated…

The priority application deadline for this program is March 31st, 2024. If the program is not filled at this point, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the program is filled.


Housing for non-local participants is available at the Thoreau College Campus, which includes both private and shared rooms.  The Campus is located on a semi-rural 6 acre site within walking distance of most locations in Viroqua, Wisconsin.  Lunches will be provided and eaten together on Mondays-Fridays during the course.  Participants will be responsible for other meals, for which they will have access to full kitchen facilities.


Thoreau College is committed to making our programs financially accessible to as many qualified participants as possible.  Your financial pledge will cover program fees, supplies, and 15 weekday lunches during the course.  

Campus housing is available for an additional $400

As a guide for thinking about what a reasonable contribution might be for you, please consider this three-tiered sliding scale:

Supporter Tier:  $2,000
If you move through the world with financial ease and the means to fulfill many of your wants as well as your needs – you are able to eat out when you want, abundantly meet your needs through employment or can comfortably not work, have access to family wealth, own property, etc. – consider paying at this level, which will help us ensure the long term sustainability of our programs while keeping our offerings accessible to those with access to fewer resources.

Sustainer Tier: $1,600
If you are able to meet your needs with relative ease while budgeting your educational and entertainment spending – for instance, you are able to take classes and eat out occasionally as long as you are mindful – consider paying at this level, which will help sustain the work of the college at a modest level.

Supported Tier: $1,200
If you struggle to fund your basic needs and have limited access to resources in your family and community, or if you would not be able to access this program without a discounted payment option, consider paying at this level. We value your presence and contributions to our community and do not want any economic circumstances to be a barrier to attendance!

Thoreau College is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination. Thoreau College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.

“No method nor discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert. What is a course of history, or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen? Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer? Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity.”