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Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Present Powerhouse Theater

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Vassar and New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Apprentice Company presents a series of free productions this July, including two classic works by Brecht and Shakespeare, on the Vassar campus in Poughkeepsie. July 10 - 31, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Theatrical performance—acting, writing, directing, and technical theater—is the daily focus of a group of almost 50 in the Powerhouse Apprentice Company, who will spend six weeks this summer immersed in studies, with daily morning classes, shadowing production team members of New York Stage and Film, rehearsals, and performances.

Each summer the apprentice company also stages free public performances of classic plays at the college’s Outdoor Amphitheater. In 2007, these performances were named the “Best Way to Introduce Kids to the Classics,” by Hudson Valley Magazine, in the annual “Best of the Hudson Valley.” This year the company will present Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan and William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The apprentices also perform a special soundpainting program at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.

The Good Woman of Setzuan (July 11-14)

Beginning July 11-14, the public will be able to see the apprentices perform the first of two free productions, Bertolt Brecht’s Good Woman of Setzuan. The performances are offered each evening at 6:30 at the Outdoor Amphitheater on the Vassar campus. No reservations are necessary, and in case of inclement weather the performance will be given at the Mug (basement of Main Building).

The unabridged version of Good Woman of Setzuan, directed by Tomi Tsunoda, will be presented in two parts: part one on Friday and Sunday evenings; the second part on Saturday and Monday evenings. Don’t worry if you can’t attend both part one and two as the apprentices will provide either a coming attraction or recap, so everyone will be up to date on the story.

Brecht wrote Good Woman of Setzuan, while in exile from Germany, setting the story in China about a woman (Shen Te), chosen as the “good woman” by three visiting gods, who had to cloak her other “non-good” actions under an alternate identity. Through humor, Brecht explores “how to be good” in a sometimes hostile world.

The actors for Good Woman of Setzuan include 15 apprentices: Julia Anrather (Staten Island, NY), Patrina Caruana (New York City), Hannah Fordin (Rhinebeck, NY), Arianna Gass (Weston, CT), Wiley Gorn (Accord, NY), Gahlia Greene-Kaufman (Warwick, NY), Nadav Hirsh (Wynnewood, PA), Sarah Keyes (Louisville, KY), Lauren Lepow (Houston, TX), Martin Nikonoff (Paris, France), Carol Olsen (Richmond, VA), Sam Redway (Kingston, RI), Lillian Stein (Atkinson, NH), Katie Wallace (Ithaca, NY), and Rachel Zatuchni (Wayne, PA).

The Two Gentleman of Verona (July 18-21)

From July 18 – 21, the apprentices will perform William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona, adapted and directed by Anthony Luciano. The free performances begin at 6:30 pm at the Outdoor Amphitheater, and in case of inclement weather the performance will be given at the Mug (basement of Main Building).

The protagonists Valentine and Proteus are the two gentlemen of Verona and best friends, who fall in love with the same woman, Silvia, the daughter of the Duke of Milan, when they travel to that city. However Julia (also of Verona) is in love with Proteus and travels there disguised as a young man to find him.

The ten apprentice actors for the performances of The Two Gentlemen of Verona include:

  • Aly Calder (Atlanta, GA),
  • Amy Crossman (New York City),
  • Maria Gilhooley (McLean, VA),
  • Mario Haynes (Athens, GA), Alexander Jacobs (LaCanada, CA),
  • Josh Joya (New York City),
  • Evan Maltby (New York City),
  • Shawn Palmer (New London, CT),
  • Hannah Rubinek (Tarzana, CA),
  • Didrik Soderstrom (Rochester, NY)

Soundpainting: Late Night at the Lehman Loeb (July 17, 24, 31)

In addition, on three consecutive Thursday evenings (July 17, 24, 31), as part of the weekly “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb” series, the apprentices will present innovative “soundpainting” performances in the Main Galleries of the college’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. These spontaneous and original performances will be inspired by the museum’s current exhibition, Facebook: Images of People in Photographs from the Permanent Collection, as well as other artworks in the collection.

“Soundpainting” is a live composing sign language created in the 1970s by Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists. In this innovative, spontaneous type of performance, Mark Lindberg, the composer/conductor will utilize more than 750 gestures to indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers.

All the “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb” programs will begin at 6:00 pm and are free and open to the public.

Bardavon Young Playwrights at the Powerhouse

The Bardavon Young Playwrights at the Powerhouse, directed by founder/playwright Casey Kurtti, will present their own, original program, performed by the apprentices, at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center on Thursday, July 10, at 6:00 pm. A reception follows the performance.

“These eight students from the Poughkeepsie Middle School have been immersed in the Powerhouse Apprentice Company and will present brand new material inspired by the current exhibit Facebook and other works from the permanent collection at the Lehman Loeb,” explained Ed Cheetham, producing director of Powerhouse Theater.

About the Powerhouse Apprentice Company

Drawn nationally and internationally for this acclaimed annual theatrical training program, the apprentices are provided the chance to “find your voice at Vassar.” “This is the challenge and opportunity we provide each summer,” explained Tom Pacio education director of the apprentice company, “The chance to explore unique opportunities in a nurturing environment, working with top professionals from every theatrical discipline.”

The Powerhouse Apprentice Company 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.

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.

Performance Listings

Bardavon Young Playwrights at the Powerhouse

Directed by Casey Kurtti
Performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company
July 10 at 6:00 pm
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

The Good Woman of Setzuan

by Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Tomi Tsunoda
Performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company
Part 1: July 11 and July 13 at 6:30 pm
Part 2: July 12 and July 14 at 6:30 pm
Outdoor Amphitheater

Profile Pictures

Directed and soundpainted by Mark Lindberg
Performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company
July 17, 24, 31 at 6:00 pm
France Lehman Loeb Art Center

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Anthony Luciano
Performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company
July 18-July 21, 6:30 pm
Outdoor Amphitheater

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, July 8, 2008