The Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Program


June 20 – July 27, 2014

Catch great new theater on its way to the world…

  • Challenge your point of view about theater
  • Create a community of like-minded artists
  • Discover your voice as an actor, director, or writer

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 2013 season featured the work of a variety of artists such as writers Seth Zvi-Rosenfeld, Mozhan Marno, and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; directors Scott Elliot, Kate Whoriskey, Drew Cortese, Jessi D. Hill, Mark Lindberg, Emily Mendelsohn, Erin Ortman, and Tomi Tsunoda; and featured actors, Matt Doyle, Laura Innes, Linda Lavin, Russell G. Jones, 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 30th season and help bring great new theater to the world.

A Powerhouse Day

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 five 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, and writing. 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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The Season

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, musical workshops, and two 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, Soundpainting improvisation, clowning and stage combat (based on schedule and availability).

Actors are sometimes given opportunities to work alongside the professional company 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

A light class schedule allows writers 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.

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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. With this aspect of participation  in the professional program we are able to offer points in the Equity Membership Candidacy program (EMC). For more information about EMC visit thier website. Apprentices will also be directly involved in the design and implementation of all elements of their own productions.

Professional Season

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.

View the Powerhouse Apprentice Company Performances on the Powerhouse Season Schedule

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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.

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Artist Faculty 2014

Tracy Bersley, Acting, Director 

Francesca Carlin, Acting 

Drew Cortese, Text
Geoff Josselson, Audition Workshop 
Mark Lindberg, Movement, Soundpainting
Emily Mendelsohn, Script for Directors, Director
Doug Paulson, Voice 
Max Reuben, Playwriting 
Ellenor Riley-Condit, Movement
Tomi Tsunoda, Composition for Directors, Director 



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The Vassar Campus

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.

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