The Montford Moppets Shakespeare Youth Theater Company gives students in Asheville, NC, the space to ponder difficult topics and take ownership of themselves, their talents and their artistic ability. What began in 2009 as a drama class for a small group of local homeschoolers has evolved into a non-profit youth-led theatre company.
Our origin story begins in 2009 with a seed planted in the mind of an enthusiastic young theatre teacher. Current Moppets Artistic Director Ashleigh Goff and a small group of Asheville homeschool students — the Talented Outstanding Performers Homeschool Acting Troupe (TOPHAT) — spent a semester studying Shakespeare and staged adaptations of “Twelfth Night” at a local community theater and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Hazel Robinson Amphitheater, the home of the Montford Park Players.
After TOPHAT’s “Midsummer,” Ashleigh moved to Washington DC for an internship in Casting and Company Management with a professional Equity theater followed by a job with the youth Shakespeare company Traveling Performance Ensemble. She returned to Asheville in 2013 convinced that with patience and persistence, young students were fully capable of comprehending and performing Shakespeare’s works without linguistic alterations.
The student acting troupe — now dubbed “The Montford Moppets,” to reflect the group’s renewed connection to the Montford Park Players — met for six hours a day once a week for seven weeks to stage an abridged middle school production of “Romeo and Juliet,” distilled from the nearly 3-hour full production to a trim 1 hour and 45 minutes.
“It was important to me to make sure this process remained a learning opportunity for both myself, the students and their parents,” says Ashleigh. “So we learned Shakespeare’s language and talked about the hard things.”
Budget constraints and a desire to focus more on the text than the opticals led to the troupe performing in all black clothing rather than elaborate costumes, a tradition that has continued through to today’s Montford Moppets performances.
The Montford Moppets have continued to meet for several weeks every summer to play outside, learn lines, build characters and ultimately perform truncated Shakespeare productions. The Moppets expanded their season to two shows in the summer of 2018, and in 2019 the students took on their most ambitious season yet, staging four productions between June and December.
— Our Mission
— Our Vision
The Moppets strive to create innovative performances and educational experiences that connect area youth with each other and the wider community. The Moppets are committed to providing a safe space and equal access to WNC youths of all backgrounds and abilities.