Monday, August 16, 2010

And so it goes..

What a wonderful privilege to have completed a sucessful first season of the Summer Theatre Conservatory Program.

Our final presentation took place at the Ensemble Studio Theatre and students performed their rewrites of plays and monologues. They all stepped up to performance level with delight and shine and an intelligence and command of themselves that was heartening.

Many thanks to all and everyone who worked well and in concert to honor the students and their passionate connections to their own growth. Thanks to Stephen Wagner, Program Administrator, Rod Menzies, Program Producer, Janet Zarish, Mary Robinson, Jeffrey Sweet and Sue Brandt.

And to EST's Paul Slee and NY Arts Linda Earle, Dana Tarantino and Susan Childrey.

We are writing up our assessments. Setting up our scholarship fund for next year and
and taking a break for a deep breath.

Thank you all and stay tuned for more information on next year as soon as we have it.

Blessings and thanks to all.

Monday, August 9, 2010

the time is ......

..going, going, gone....

we have been so busy in the last ten days..
i haven't been able to write about
the wonderful visit from Petronia Paley and Timothy Douglas,
actress and director, who were able to talk about their careers and offer a new perspective to the students on how culture affects choices we make as artists....

..or about the terrific plays that are coming up in Playwriting and Rep,
and the language the students are acquiring,
the shared dictionary,
with which they can now begin to discuss and analyze their work...
and the way in which the students are moving more deeply into observing and responding to the people around them...

..and how the City has become a character in their work and lives
..and how they will be different after their time here with us
..and how we have learned the way we learn
..and the way in which we want the program to grow..

And the discussions we are having now as we enter our final week about the way we approach our work as artists... and our responibilities as people of the arts. It is an odd and difficult truth that there are more and more young people coming out of national theatre programs and less and less young people and people in general supporting the arts. So, we make the point that the support of fellow artists and arts institutions is an important and basic part of our civic membership. If we know what it is to be empowered to connect with and express our deepest selves in our work.. it is just as important for us to make sure we join the local museum or theatre compant or symphony season. It is our job to keep the energy of the arts in our world. It this energy that continually recycles and refreshes our community.

We have established the Tony Shultz Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of the man who has underwritten much of the development and scholarships for the program in the two and one half years of the programs development. Tony was an actor-musician who starred in the original company of Grease, in Bakers Wife and Platinum on Broadway. He played percussion instruments by ear, was an accomplished carpenter and potter and believed passionately in both the arts and education. With this goal in mind, Tony supported the Holly Bendek Arts Fund in Los Angeles, connecting the fund with LA'S Best, an afterschool program for kids at risk. He sat on the Board of the John Aaroe Charitable Foundation and was an active patron of the arts in Los Angeles making sure that museums and theatre and music were part of the lives of his family and friends. He also underwrote the original New Play Festival seasons of ON YOUR FEET at California State University, Fullerton. And he was my husband of twenty seven years before his untimely death in March, 2008.

This year we were able to support several students in the program with partial or full tuition scholarships due to Tony. He would be proud that his name is associated with bringing the artistic experience to a wide and deserving student base.

Contributions to the fund can be made by sending a check to
549 WEST 52 nd STREET
NYC 10019
attn: Shultz Memorial Scholarship Fund.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Useful? Special? or both?

So sorry to have let almost a week pass without a post..
it is indicative of this point in the intensive when "intense"
is the operative word.

"I stopped trying to be special and became useful. And when I became useful, I became special."

Last Tuesday we had a terrific visit with Willie Reale, founder of the 52nd Street Project, Tony winner, writer, actor and all round mensch. Willie offered practical survival tips for students.... Cooks Illustrated is the best recipe site and "never break up with your girlfriend on the phone". Important lessons but no less important than the many wonderful and frank stories of building a career in theatre, television and film. And the above advice.... the most important lesson offered thus far.

As theatre artists, our skills match beautifully with a changing world out of touch with itself. The stronger the ability to remain in the moment we cultivate, the more equipped we are to observe and affect the world that we live in. To move from the reactive mode to the creative mode is an extremely important tool in handling the changing paradigms of our times.

It was a pleasure to hear these values so clearly laid forth for our students.

Devised Theatre/Directing instructor Mary Robinson wound up her month with us this week and now Stephen Wagner will take the class from development to performance creation mode for the final presentation of the work in process on Thursday evening, August 12 at Drama Book Shop.

Kathy Rossetter, our audition clinic, instructor also finished her four weeks of classes with a mock audition ofr students as well as a session of cold readings of newly written monologues by student writers. The results were exciting.

Friday evening was our second open class at the Drama Book Shop. We premiered eleven new plays, some written by students who have never written a play before. We are happy to discover that students are exposed to the same values in each of their classes and so the skills they are learning in one setting transfer easily to the other aspects of theatre that students are studying. Identifying the heat of a scene, keeping character choices specific, being connected to the other actor and identifying needs, wants, tactics and actions in the work all contribute to a clear and compelling story.. and a present and alive experience.

We have a busy week ahead. New plays written to sound tracks are being read,reworked and moved through the Rep process. Some plays are moving forward into a movement based staged reading, and still others may move into a workshop performance style.
This week, we attend a new musical at the Lark Theatre company on Monday night, and Friday we have a visit from Roberta Levitow, head of Theatre Without Borders, just back from a month working in Africa.

We are still hoping to put together a diversity panel but scheduling has been difficult.

So, we are in the home stretch... so quickly. Students are getting a chance to explore the city on their own a bit with several attending the open air screening of REAR WINDOW in Brooklyn last Thursday and checking out the student rush opportunities at various Broadway shows.

Here we go.
Our final open classes will be August 12 at Drama Book Shop
and August 13 on the second floor or the Ensemble Studio Theatre.