The Powerhouse Theater Training Program challenges you to look at the art of theater in new and meaningful ways. Explore the boundaries of theater by living, breathing, and creating theater with peers and professionals alike. A summer at Powerhouse provides you with an experience that will inform the rest of your life.
The program is the result of a unique collaboration between Vassar College, a prestigious liberal arts institution, and New York Stage and Film, an established professional theater company. Our 2012 season featured the work of writers as varied as Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Stephen Belber, and Erik Ehn; directors Peter DuBois , Drew Cortese, David Esbjornson, Jessi D. Hill, Brian McManamon, Maureen Towey and Tomi Tsunoda; and featured actors, Santino Fontana, Russell G. Jones, Greg Kinnear, S. Epatha Merkerson, among many others. It’s an exhilarating environment. Everyone who is part of the theater community is here to do “the work,” and that is what everyone talks about during meals and late into the night. As one apprentice said, “You can always sleep later.”
Make your summer one to remember by being a part of our 29th season and help bring great new theater to the world.
Apprentices in the Powerhouse program choose a discipline (acting, directing, or writing) and then work alongside some of the country’s leading and emerging theater practitioners for six weeks, observing and participating in the process through which new works are brought to life. A Powerhouse day includes morning classes taught by an outstanding faculty, in acting, voice, movement, directing, writing and Soundpainting. Powerhouse afternoons and evenings feature rehearsals for the outdoor theater season, workshops, and calls to assist in the shops. Master Classes for all disciplines are scheduled based upon the availability of visiting artists and professionals who are on campus working on various productions.
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Located in the scenic Hudson Valley, 75 miles north of New York City, in Poughkeepsie, Vassar College is a highly selective, residential, coeducational, liberal arts college. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its 1000-acre campus. The resources of the college (including the library, computing facilities, fitness center and the art center) are available for use by apprentices. Vassar’s grounds include a nine-hole golf course, 14 tennis courts, a gym, numerous jogging trails, and athletic facilities. Apprentices have their own rooms in Vassar residence halls, and take their meals at the college dining center.
Visit the virtual tour for more information about the campus.
The apprentice season typically consists of up to three outdoor productions, studio productions, site-specific plays, readings and workshops. The professional season typically includes two main stage productions, second stage and workshop productions, and play-reading festivals.
For the Actor
Classes are held daily and are taught by leading artists in various theater disciplines. The core classes are: Acting, Voice, Text and Movement. These are supplemented with workshops such as audition technique, improvisation, clowning and stage combat.
Actors are sometimes given opportunities to work alongside the professional company as observers and are sometimes chosen as readers of stage directions for the Readings Festival.
For the Director
Directors meet in two sessions, each twice a week, with one session devoted to the reading and analysis of text, and one session devoted to the fundamentals of theatrical composition. Additional classes in collaboration, performance, improvisation, and 1-on-1 meetings with faculty support these sessions. Students have the opportunity to apply their skills by directing new scripts written by playwright apprentices, as well as scenes from a published play.
Directors are also assigned to assist in the rehearsal process for both apprentice and professional company productions.
For the Writer
Writers are encouraged to develop discipline. A light class schedule allows them to devote more of their time to writing. Classes are scheduled two times per week and are supplemented by individual consultations with their instructor. Students have the opportunity to apply their skills by writing new scripts for different projects that are then directed by apprentice directors.
Writers are also assigned to assist in the rehearsal process of the professional company.
Master Classes and Shadowing
Master Classes for all disciplines are scheduled based upon the availability of visiting artists and professionals who are on campus working on various projects. As it is the goal of the Powerhouse Season to develop new work, Writing and Directing apprentices are part of that process as observers and assistants to the professional company in rehearsals of workshops and main stage productions.
The apprentice company presents up to three outdoor productions from the classic repertoire and studio workshops - all under the guidance of professional directors and writers. In addition, wide ranges of new works written and/or directed by members of the apprentice company are presented as readings and workshops.
Crew hours on the professional productions are required of all apprentices, with participation based on individual schedules, talents, and interests. Crew consists of helping to build and paint sets, hang lights, strikes, etc. Apprentices will also be directly involved in the design and implementation of all elements of their own productions.
As members of the company, apprentices have access to all of the new work that is going up during the season. Being a part of the process of shaping a new play and seeing the result is what makes artists return to Vassar each summer, and it’s also what makes the apprentice experience valuable for fledgling writers, directors, and actors.
COMPOSITION for the Director
TEXT Analysis for the Director
TEXT for the Actor
*WHAT IS SOUNDPAINTING? It’s a sign language of over 1,000 gestures used for live composition. Created by composer Walter Thompson, Soundpainting has become an important part of the training at Powerhouse where all disciplines are exposed to the language. It can be an essential tool for actors to “build muscle” in both improvisation and traditional performance.
Nastaran Ahmadi, Playwriting
Drew Cortese, Text for the Actor
Michael Early, Acting
Erik Ehn, Guest Writer
Jessi D. Hill, Guest Director
Mark Lindberg, Movement, Soundpainting
Brian McManamon, Acting
Emily Mendelsohn, Directing
Erin Ortman. Acting
Tom Pacio , Education Director
Ryan Quinn, Stage Combat Workshop
Maureen Towey, Guest Director
Tomi Tsunoda, Directing, Soundpainting
Shona Tucker, Acting
Scott Wojcik, Audition Technique