Rob Clare was originally an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), then a Staff Director at the UK National Theatre, and Associate Artistic Director of the major UK touring company, Compass. Becoming increasingly interested in differing approaches to working with Shakespearean texts, and especially verse, he completed a doctorate in the subject at Oxford University, and has since become an internationally recognized Shakespeare specialist.
He has worked in numerous training institutions within the UK, including the Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD), the Guildhall School, Drama Studio London, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He directed Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts acting students on a study abroad program at Shakespeare's Globe. He also established the MA Classical Acting course at CSSD, which he then led for its first three years. Since resuming his freelance career he has directed and/or taught Shakespeare in Ireland, Austria, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, China, and the USA. In India's National School of Drama, New Delhi, as well as leading Shakespeare workshops, he directed Hindi productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet. Before moving to the US, he worked regularly for almost a decade as a freelance specialist verse and text coach with the RSC’s core acting ensemble, leading annual workshops and masterclasses, and working in and alongside rehearsals for productions of Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Henry V and Hamlet.
In the US he has been visiting faculty at UCLA, The Juilliard School, Yale Drama, Brown, USC Los Angeles, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles and NYU Tisch (both graduate and undergraduate acting). He has also directed productions of As You Like It (Antaeus Theatre Company, Los Angeles), Cymbeline (New Orleans Shakespeare Festival), Twelfth Night and The Merry Wives of Windsor (American Shakespeare Center, Staunton VA), Love’s Labour’s Lost and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (Marin Shakespeare Company), King Lear (Luna Stage, Orange NJ), The Winter’s Tale (Hang A Tale Productions, NYC), As You Like It (Kentucky Shakespeare), Richard III (Idaho Shakespeare Festival), Pericles (USC Los Angeles), The Duchess of Malfi (CSU Long Beach), and Richard III and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Los Angeles). He has worked regularly at the NYC Actors Center, the Academy for Classical Acting in Washington DC, Berg Studios (Los Angeles), and with the acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company, Chicago, for whose ensemble he led Shakespeare workshops, and also provided specialized verse and text work for Tina Landau’s production of The Tempest. Work during 2020 includes directing productions of Troilus and Cressida for both Marin Shakespeare Company and for UCLA, for whom he will also be leading an Acting Shakespeare Summer School.
Rob has also taught Shakespeare as literature at Oxford University, University College Dublin, University of Warwick, University of Illinois (Chicago), USC Los Angeles, Mary Baldwin College (Staunton, VA), and elsewhere. His critical analysis of the variant texts of King Lear was recognized by the Bibliographical Society of Great Britain, and won the prestigious Fredson Bowers Memorial Prize, awarded biennially by the US Society for Textual Scholarship for an outstanding contribution to internationally published work. It was subsequently included in the book of critical essays Lear from Study to Stage (Associated University Presses, 1997). He also contributed a chapter on Shakespeare's Prose to Shakespeare's World and Work (Scribner & Sons, 2001). His dramaturgy has included working on various Shakespeare texts for institutions and/or theatre companies including: Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago), Hartford Stage, Kentucky Shakespeare, Marin Shakespeare Company, New Orleans Shakespeare, the American Shakespeare Center (Staunton, VA), and Britain's leading regional repertory company, The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
Though still a British citizen, Rob holds a green card enabling him to work freely as a permanent resident in the USA. He is married to the actress Reiko Aylesworth, and they live with their son Andre in Pasadena, CA.
Rob Clare has a profoundly intimate relationship with Shakespeare's characters. They feel like family. That closeness combined with some terrific instincts about acting make him an incredibly valuable resource.
Whether as teacher or director, Rob Clare is a leader in his field of Shakespeare who gives creative freedom to every actor in the room. A real gem!
Rob Clare's workshops are practical magic. He empowers actors. With tools that will sharpen the novice or refresh the master, a weekend with Rob Clare is more incisive and relevant than a semester of Shakespeare.
Rob Clare fundamentally shaped the way I approach acting - disciplined craft allowing us to unleash a sense of visceral freedom. He changed my life.
Rob Clare occupies the venerable space of great teacher, great artist. His Shakespeare acumen is unrivaled, giving any actor a seamless and confident approach, turning text into dynamic performance.
-John Douglas Thompson
Whether you are a long time lover and practitioner in Shakespearean work, or like me, come to Shakespeare as a terrified but interested artist, I can unqualifiedly recommend that you gift yourself and sample Rob’s teaching.
For most actors Shakespeare is the ultimate challenge and the most rewarding. But it can be intimidating. Rob brings such knowledge and passion, and has an eagle eye to the needs of the particular actor he is working with. The journey for the actor becomes a joyful one, and the confidence gained is incalculable. I for one am waiting to join any project he is involved with - we need him!
- Chris Noth
With great wisdom, humor and grace, Rob Clare grounds the actor in foundation, but takes the ‘curse’ off the language; freeing the actor to ‘live’ the verse with confidence, spontaneity and the true joy of discovery.
-Peter Jay Fernandez
If you are interested in loving Shakespeare even more than you already do, get to know Rob Clare. Do you want to appreciate the text on a granular level? Would you like to rock out, while holding a madrigal in your heart? All this can be yours if you study with Rob! So do it! You will not be sorry!
Rob Clare teaches how to make Shakespeare sound contemporary and relevant. He breaks down myths and inhibitions by taking Shakespeare down from his pedestal and giving him back to us all to enjoy.
Rob Clare’s Shakespeare workshops are the most powerful acting classes I’ve ever attended. I’ve witnessed Rob liberate the minds, bodies, and hearts of actors who felt trapped by rigid preconceptions, rules, and ideas. He has directed me in several Shakespeare productions, in which I experienced true freedom. Rob is not just the greatest Shakespeare teacher I know, he’s one of the greatest acting teachers I’ve worked with.
Rob opens doors, doors I didn't know were there. He is always a joyful and creative partner, whose talent, enormous experience and long devotion to this work, coupled with a unique ability to share it with his fellow actors, have enriched my work and my life. He's the best.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Rob both in full Shakespeare production and in a workshop setting. My experience was terrific in both cases. The man knows his Shakespeare. I definitely recommend him.
After nearly 25 years in the theatre and over 60 professional productions of Shakespeare, I thought I knew a thing or two about his heightened text - and then I met Rob Clare! He opened up an entire new world of possibilities.
My work with Rob Clare on Shakespeare has given me solid techniques which have led to what I want more than anything when working on Shakespeare or any writer - a sense of freedom and a depth of possibility that is endless. Rob reads Shakespeare at an unmatched level. He has wide experience, massive intelligence, and a finely tuned sense for truth. He is extremely generous with all three.
I have worked with Rob myself many times, and have been sending my students and colleagues to his NYC workshops for many years now. Everyone comes back inspired. He is kind, profoundly supportive, and brilliant.
- Alexandra Neil
Rob Clare has an exhaustive knowledge of Shakespeare, and possesses the skill and ability to make the performing of it crystal clear. I learned that it is actually possible to marry varying techniques and approaches to performing Shakespeare with clarity and poetry, without sacrificing passion. He helped us to understand with body, voice and soul - he is a master.
A few years back, at the urging of Lloyd Richards, I took what was really only the second acting class (with Lloyd ) I had ever taken. I had always prided myself on having learned by doing in a long career on stage and in film and TV. It was rejuvenating. But when it came to an end I felt somewhat bereft and wanted more. Then I heard of Rob Clare's class from peers I respected, and we began an exploration into Shakespeare's Lear which was a revelation. I had already performed the Fool in a production with Trinity Rep in Providence RI. - but Rob brought out elements we had not touched on and made me wish that I had another shot at it. His knowledge of Shakespeare is encyclopedic, and his approach collegial and fun. Similarly, or subsequently, we worked for a period of time on Beckett's Endgame. We were hoping for a production, and that didn't happen, mainly due to scheduling problems... but Oh what a journey, and what a lesson in how to approach that text. I can only encourage any actor, no matter at what stage of career, to trust that Rob's knowledge and artistic instincts will add, if you are already at the point where you are searching him out, to a fuller and most satisfying end.
Addendum: Prison Work
Rob was one of the first to establish drama as a tool for education and rehabilitation within UK prisons. From 1987 onwards he worked extensively in British prisons, and from 1998-2010 as the Artistic Director of Kestrel Theatre Company, dedicated to the creative use of drama within the criminal justice system. Rob's Kestrel projects typically used increasingly structured improvisation to create and then perform or film new work. His initial work in HM Prison Manchester helped lead directly to the establishment of the TIPP (Theatre in Prison and Probation) Centre at Manchester University, which remains an important resource and point of co-ordination for practitioners. Acknowledged to be a pioneer in this field, Clare’s many prison projects include the acclaimed short films Out Loud (Granada TV) and Bullfrog (nationally broadcast on Carlton TV). His work with political prisoners in Northern Ireland was honoured by an award from the Butler Trust for making an outstanding contribution to life and work within UK prisons, and was the subject of the BBC TV documentary Act of Faith. Though he now lives and works in the US, he still consults for Kestrel, which remains an active force in work with incarcerated communities within the UK. Here in the US he regularly collaborates with the Marin Shakespeare Company, whose portfolio of ongoing Shakespeare prison projects is by now certainly the largest in the US, and quite possibly the world.
He contributed a chapter on the creative use of improvisation in the prison context to Practices and Perspectives in Prison Theatre (ed. James Thompson, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, 1998)
Work in UK prisons includes:
HM Prison Manchester, 1988, led creative writing workshops for inmates, leading to performance of the devised work Strange Ways at the UK's National Theatre, and the one-man drama Out Loud (Granada TV)
HM Prison Manchester, 1989-90, director: Paint, Champagne and Roses
HM Prison Maghaberry (N Ireland), director, 1990-91: Offside, Out of the Blue, Dead Cert, The Maniac; leading to
a 1992 Butler Trust award for an outstanding contribution to life and work in UK prisons
HMP Woodhill, director, 1993-94: drama workshops and short films
HMP Maghaberry, director, 1994: A Small Family Business, (also featured in the BBC TV documentary Act of Faith)
HMYOI Huntercombe, director, 1998: The Ruby Murray Disaster
HM Prison Grendon, director, 1998-2004: projects included Hot Dogs, Thank God It's Friday, Stags, and Bullfrog (nationally broadcast, Carlton TV)
HM Prison Dartmoor, 2004, director, Room
And in 2008 the play Tinder, commissioned and toured by Kestrel to prisons in and around the London area