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Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Present Powerhouse Theater


The Powerhouse Theater Training Program is now accepting applications for 2010 summer season.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Intense. Amazing. Life-changing. These are just some of the words that former members of the Powerhouse Theater Training Program, one of the country’s leading theater immersion programs, use to describe their experience at Vassar. Now, this nationally-recognized training program entering its 26th season is accepting applications for actors, designers, directors, and writers for the 2010 Powerhouse season.

The Powerhouse Theater Training Program (June 18 - August 1, 2010) will challenge you to look at the art of theater in new and meaningful ways. "During the summer you can explore the boundaries of theater from the traditional to the new, from campus to city, from amphitheater to art center,” explained Edward Cheetham, producing director of Powerhouse Theater. “By living, breathing, and creating theater with peers and professionals alike you will come away with an experience that will inform the rest of your life.”

The Powerhouse season is the result of a unique partnership between Vassar College & New York Stage and Film. The professional season consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 artists live and work together to create new theater works. Over this same period, for six weeks, members of the training program form the Powerhouse Apprentice Company and perform classic and new works – alongside the professional company.

Powerhouse is an exhilarating environment. Everyone who is part of the theater company is here to do “the work,” and that is what everyone talks about during meals and late into the night in the residence hall. As one participant said, “You can always sleep later.”

Josh Radnor, a star of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother, is an actor who frequently returns to the stage at Powerhouse, where he first appeared in the Apprentice Company in 1994. During an interview for >Passport magazine, Radnor recalled the magic of that first Powerhouse experience. "I remember feeling very free performing Shakespeare outside – the trees, the fake blood. I am very grateful for that summer."

With the goal of steadfastly supporting both emerging and established artists, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays and provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures since its inception in 1985. Throughout this time Powerhouse has established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.

Powerhouse audiences have been the first to see such Tony Award-winning plays as Tru by Jay Presson Allen, >Side Man by Warren Leight, and Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. Powerhouse's 2009 professional season featured the work of Tony Award-winner Duncan Sheik as well as Tony and Pulitzer winners Beth Henley and John Patrick Shanley, among others.

About the Training Program

Before acceptance into the six-week training program, students choose a discipline: acting, design, directing, or playwriting. During the course of the summer, an apprentice company of actors, designers, directors, and writers is formed and will work within the larger framework of the whole season.

Apprentices will have the opportunity to work alongside some of the country’s leading and emerging theater artists such as John Patrick Shanley, Duncan Sheik, Sarah Ruhl, Tomi Tsunoda, and Davis McCallum. Master classes for all disciplines are scheduled based upon the availability of visiting artists and professionals who are on campus working on various productions.

The 2010 Powerhouse Theater Training Program artist faculty will include, among others: Nastaran Ahmadi, Drew Cortese, Michael Early, Christa Kimlicko-Jones (associate education director), Mark Lindberg, Brian McManamon, Emily Mendelsohn, Tom Pacio (education director), Tomi Tsunoda, and Scott Wojcik.

Throughout the summer, apprentices also work in their own theater company. They write, perform, and direct two-minute plays and site-specific work – and each week host table readings of works in progress by the apprentice writers. All acting apprentices are cast in one of the outdoor productions of classical texts, which are open to the public. Recent performances have included the works of Shakespeare, Brecht, Chekhov, and Aeschylus, all presented under the direction of professional directors and writers. In 2007, these performances were named by Hudson Valley Magazine as the “Best Way to Introduce Kids to the Classics” in the annual "Best of the Hudson Valley."

At the close of last season to a standing room only audience, the company performed a musical workshop of Emmy winner Cheri Steinkellner's original work Hello! My Baby, directed by Christa Kimlicko-Jones. This season, Mark Linn-Baker, New York Stage and Film producing director and co-founder, will work with the young artists on a musical.

Another aspect that sets this program apart is the integration of instruction and performance in Soundpainting, 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, the composer/conductor utilizes more than 750 gestures to indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers.

About the Classes:
  • Classes for actors 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.
  • Designers meet twice a week with one session devoted to the fundamentals of storytelling through theatrical design. This session is supported by classes in text analysis, theatrical composition, collaboration, performance, and a one-on-one mentorship with faculty. Students have the opportunity to apply their skills in project collaborations with directing and acting students. Designers are also assigned to assist in the design process for apprentice company productions, and to observe the technical process of the professional company.
  • 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. These sessions are supported by additional classes in collaboration, performance, improvisation, and 1-on-1 meetings with faculty. 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 observe and/or assist in the rehearsal process for both apprentice and professional company productions.
  • 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 and weekly informal "table readings." Students have the opportunity to apply their skills with writing assignments that are then directed and acted by members of the training program. Writers are also assigned to observe in the rehearsal process of the professional company.

To be considered for the Powerhouse Theater Training Program, which will run from June 18 through August 1, 2010 on Vassar’s Hudson Valley campus, applicants should be rising high school seniors through recent college graduates.

All applications must include faculty and/or professional recommendations, as well as personal statements. Aspiring playwrights need to submit a writing sample; directors need to submit a play analysis; designers a detailed one-page design for a play; and actors are asked to submit a DVD featuring two contrasting monologues. The deadline for applications for designers, directors, and writers is March 16, 2010. Applications for actors are due by April 16, 2010.

The application form is available on the Powerhouse Theater website. A non-refundable application and processing fee of $75 should accompany the application.

For more information and/or how to apply, please visit our website, http://powerhouse.vassar.edu. Prospective applicants may also call Producing Director Edward Cheetham for more information at (845) 437-5902.

Become a fan of the Powerhouse Theater Training Program on Facebook, where details about information sessions around the country are posted. See http://www.facebook.com/powerhouseapprentice.

Artist Faculty:

Playwright Nastaran Ahmadi is happy to return for her second year at Powerhouse. Based in Brooklyn, Ahmadi's work has been developed and produced in cities including New York, San Francisco, Louisville and New Haven. Currently, she is working on a new full-length work called Leftovers to be workshopped this summer at Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago. Other plays include Doctoring, Layla and Majnun, and The War Is Over.Ahmadi holds an MFA in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama where she received the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting.

This will be Drew Cortese's seventh summer at Vassar College & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater, his sixth as a member of the Theater Training Faculty. He first appeared at Powerhouse in Anton Dudley's Honor and the River. Cortese's New York theater credits include P73’s production of 1001, Erica Schmidt’s As You Like Itat The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, Honor and the Riverat the Summer Play Festival, The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasoliniat the ActFrench Festival, As I Lay Dyingat the Ohio Theater, and expat/infernoat FringeNYC. Regionally, he has been seen at ACT, Guthrie Theater, Denver Center Theater Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Papermill Playhouse, Barrington Stage Company, Kansas City Rep, and the Clarence Brown Theater. He can be heard on the recordings of The Sourcebooks Shakespeare editions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Julius Caesar. Cortese has guest lectured for Duke University’s Leadership and the Arts Program, University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program, and Actors Theatre of Louisville's Apprentice Program. He is a graduate of Duke University and New York University’s Graduate Acting Program, and a volunteer for both the 52nd Street Project and Falconworks’ Off The Hook.

Christa Kimlicko-Jones teaches acting and voice for the Powerhouse Theater Training Program as well as serving as the associate education director. In 2009, she directed the workshop of Cheri Steinkellner's Hello! My Baby. Jones works with NYU’s drama department, currently on staff atCAP 21 (acting and voice) and at Stella Adler (voice and speech). She is a founding member and serves as associate artistic director of the New York-based theater company, Theatre East. Jones is a member of V.A.S.T.A. (Voice and Speech Trainers’ Association) and Actors’ Equity Association. She received a Masters of Fine Arts degree in acting from the University of Texas at Austin.www.christakimlickojones.com.

Michael Early holds a BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA from Yale University School of Drama. He has extensive experience off-Broadway and in regional theater, television, and commercials. He was an artist-in-residence at Oberlin College and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 1998. This is Early’s tenth season at Powerhouse.

Mark Lindberg teaches movement for actors and Soundpainting for Powerhouse and creating original work for the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at New York University. His directing credits at Powerhouse include Missing Piecesby Powerhouse alum Jillian Fletcher, and three Soundpainting pieces performed in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center: Ruins(with Tomi Tsunoda), Profile Pictures, and last summer's Dances at an Exhibition. Outside of teaching, Lindberg is a multidisciplinary theater artist with credits in acting, dance, playwrighting, and directing all around New York City. Some of his acting and dance credits include work with Breedingground productions, Knife, inc. (Oph3lia- New York Innovative Theater Award nomination), Collective Dance NY,Dreamscape Theatre, Quo Vadimus Arts, and others. As a playwright, his work has been produced by End Times Productions (Serling Award - Best Script Drama), Dreamscape Theatre, for the NY International Fringe Festival and more. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn Soundpainting Company. Lindberg received a B.F.A. from N.Y.U./Playwrights Horizons (Outstanding Achievement Award).

Actor and director Brian McManamon has worked with MCC Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Youngblood, P.S. 122, Target Margin Theater, the BE Company and many other companies in New York City and is a company member of the Lynx Theater and The Lark Theatre’s Playground. Internationally, he performed in the world premiere of Pulitzer prize nominee Rolin Jones’ play The Jammer, which received the Edinburgh Fringe First Award, was a member of the acclaimed New York-based company, Theater Breaking Through Barriers' tour to Zagreb, Croatia. McManamon attended the British American Drama Academy (B.A.D.A.) at Oxford where he worked with Caryl Churchill on her plays Hotel and She Bit Her Toungue, both directed by Mark Wing-Davey. He serves and/or has served on the acting faculties of The National Theater Institute (NTI) at the O’Neill Theater Center, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Lab, Jr at NYSF/Public Theater, Abrons Arts Center, Academy of Cinema and Television, and New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. McManamon has a BFA from Boston University and a MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

This will be Emily Mendelsohn’s eighth year at Powerhouse. Mendelsohn is a writer and director committed to art as a civic practice. She teaches a course at California Institute of the Arts to prepare graduate and undergraduate students for a summer exchange in Rwanda and Uganda; part of a conversation on arts, genocide and the work of renewal held through conferences and exhibits at Brown University and CalArts, where she earned her MFA in directing.

This is Tom Pacio's fourth summer serving as education director for the Powerhouse Theater Training Program. He has a BFA in acting from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and just completed an MFA in performance pedagogy at the University of Pittsburgh. At the University of Pittsburgh, he taught classes in Introduction to performance, acting, and musical theatre as heightened text; he was nominated for the 2010 Elizabeth Baranger Teaching Award. Pacio recently co-directed a production of Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell’s adaptation of Moliere’s Scapin for the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Company. His professional experience includes working for a large, bi-coastal talent agency, with respected legit and commercial casting directors, and in the offices of the world-renowned, Nederlander Organization. As a performer, he has toured with national companies of Crazy for You, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, and White Christmas. Pacio has numerous other regional and stock credits and has performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Tomi Tsunoda is a multi-disciplinary artist. She has been performing as a singer, actor, and visual artist with The Walter Thompson Orchestra since 1998, The New York Soundpainting Orchestra since 2005, and has been working as a Soundpainting composer with her own theater ensembles since 2000. Tsunoda studied directing, acting, design, writing, and music composition at New York University where she graduated with an award for Outstanding Achievement. She teaches directing, Soundpainting, composition, and creating original work at NYU’s Playwrights Horizons Theatre School and the Powerhouse Theater Training Program. She was a program director and teacher for the Harlem Educational Activities Fund and is currently the creative director and founder of Breedingground Productions, a collective of independent artists, with whom she has helped to develop more than 100 projects across all creative disciplines since August 2000. She is a founding member of the Brooklyn Soundpainting Company.

Scott Wojcik is the senior casting director and founding member of Casting by Rosen & Wojcik (CRW). He has produced many industrial and theatrical events. He also leads seminars and classes for all talent levels, including on audition techniques. He writes a monthly column for Back Stage called "Commercial Break" and he is a frequent guest at SAG Industry workshops. Wojcik pursued undergraduate study at Bentley College, his graduate work in Arts Management was done at Texas Tech University.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Cathy Jennings, Campus Activities Office, (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, March 1, 2010