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Powerhouse Theater apprentices travel back in time at the Vassar-Warner Adult Home, performing a series of dramatic and musical sketches based upon interviews with residents. July 5-6, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Powerhouse Theater apprentices are about to travel back to the 1930s and 1940s, in vignettes they’ve created based upon the lives of Vassar-Warner Adult Home residents. The apprentices will perform these original theater pieces at the Vassar-Warner Adult Home itself (52 South Hamilton Street in Poughkeepsie) on Saturday, July 5, at 2:00 pm, and Sunday, July 6, at 6:30 pm. The shows are free and open to the public, but space is limited, so reservations are required. Call Eliza Haun at 845-437-7645.

Under the direction of Maureen Towey, the apprentices have created a program – using the historic setting of Vassar-Warner as their stage – that is free to the public. The work – comprised of dramatic and musical sketches – is based upon interviews the apprentices conducted with the residents for the past two weeks. Towey describes the piece as vaudevillian in nature, made up of individual vignettes and sketches. Space is limited and reservations are required; please call Eliza Haun at 845-437-7645.

“The apprentices spent two weeks interviewing the residents at the Vassar-Warner Home. We focused on the timeframe when the residents were the same age as the apprentices and their stories and recollections focus mainly on the 1930s and 40s,” explained director Towey. “We chose Vassar-Warner for this project, because the residents are mostly natives of Poughkeepsie and it is the only nonprofit facility in the area. The building itself dates from the 1830s and the adult home has been there for more than 130 years.”

The Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Program is a unique collaboration between a prestigious liberal arts college, Vassar, and an established professional theater company, New York Stage and Film. Apprentices in the Powerhouse program choose a discipline (acting, writing, directing, or technical theater) 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.

The apprentices who have worked on the Vassar-Warner performances are drawn from throughout the country. The company includes:

  • Aly Calder (Atlanta, GA), actor
  • Amy Crossman (New York City), actor
  • Maria Gilhooley (McLean, VA), actor
  • Mario Haynes (Athens, GA), actor
  • Alex Jacobs (LaCanada, CA), actor
  • Josh Joya (New York City), actor
  • Evan Maltby (New York City), actor
  • Shawn Palmer (New London, CT), actor
  • Hannah Rubinek (Tarzana, CA), actor
  • Didrik Soderstrom (Rochester, NY), actor
  • Katherine Pardue (Dayton, OH) - director
  • Jannie Kitchen (Concord, MA) - director
  • Graham Parkes (Santa Monica, CA) - writer
  • Sarah Wesson (Wellington, FL) - stage manager
  • Courtney Kersten - production manager

About the Director

Maureen Towey is the recipient of a Princes Grace Award that provided support for her work at the Sojourn Theater in Portland, Oregon, including directing Throwing Bones, and acting as assistant director for Michael Rohd on GOOD. Towey, a Fulbright Scholar for Directing in 2005-06, spent a year in residence Capetown, South Africa, where she adapted and directed Swallow What You Steal, which toured rural villages. Towey also assisted Brett Bailey on 7th Heaven for the opening ceremonies at the Harare International Arts Festival in Zimbabwe. She directed four works by Jess Lacher, including Incredible Flying Machines, A Is for Aardvark, JUMP, and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, that was the recipient of the New York Fringe Festival’s Best Ensemble Award.

About the Vassar-Warner Adult Home

Vassar-Warner was founded in 1871 to provide a “true home for aged, indigent, women”. The residence was named for its major benefactors, the 19th century philanthropists Jonathan Rowland Warner, and John Guy Vassar and Matthew Vassar, Jr, who were nephews of Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College. Vassar-Warner has continued to operate without interruption for over 135 years and it is the only non-profit adult home in Dutchess County.

About Powerhouse

The Powerhouse program is the result of a unique partnership between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists.

Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.

About New York Stage and Film

Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer, and Leslie Urdang, and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer, New York Stage and Film is a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development and production of new works for theater and film.

About Vassar College

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs – from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies – encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social services, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, July 2, 2008