Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Acting and Experimentation by Shelly Lipkin, director of A Bright Room Called Day on the PAC Stage Nov. 30 – Dec 16

I started out as a stage actor, and wanted nothing more than to hit the boards and stun the audience with my brilliance. The first full-length play I was cast in became a series of lucky experiments for me. Although the end result turned out well (as far as my memory serves me), I had no previous acting classes to support my work, and therefore the term "experiment" became my mode of learning. It's true that actors experiment with their work, but without a proper foundation in how to approach that experimentation, performing in a play can become more like shooting in the dark.

I would have to say that it has taken me the past 40 plus years to develop the paradoxical mix of of raw talent, critical analysis, absolute physical and mental control and complete emotional abandon that is the craft of acting, and it is what I try to impart as an acting instructor.

A Bright Room Called Day
Photo: Owen Carey

The Advance Acting I course I am currently teaching at Portland Actors Conservatory is designed to fully incorporate the lessons and skills of the students’ first year course work. Our process of rehearsing and performing a full-length play puts into practice the entire scope of an actor's core skills. The first production of this year, Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, is a contemporary and realistic play, and therefore demands a naturalistic performance.

As director I stress the importance of making specific and active choices that will lead the actor to a more fully realised and multi-dimensional character. A full exploration of the character's backstory, given circumstances, objectives, obstacles and tactics steer the actor toward those goals.  Understanding the character's "why" will logically raise the emotional stakes in any given scene and heighten the conflict in the story - and telling the story is everyone's goal in play production.

Story can sometimes elude an actor who is involved in the minutiae of their character's development and specific scenework.  However, where and how a character fits into the overall storyline and theme of a play help the actor make choices that drive the action of the story. A director becomes the objective guide to that process, and an actor must understand the importance of the collaborative process during rehearsal. Therefore, each actor will develop a "beat analysis" which become a road map for the character’s emotional life and how that fits into the overall scope of the play.

Each actor will create a journal to help them understand how the creative process affected them, how they dealt with it, what worked and what didn't. The journal becomes a mirror for them to see how they work. 

The actual run of a play can be just as daunting as the rehearsal process. Sustaining a performance and growing within the restraints of the director’s and playwright's visions are important ingredients in the creative process. The actor must learn how to approach each night's performance as a clean slate, remembering the structure, while simultaneously staying free enough to react spontaneously to the "given circumstances" of that particular evening’s performance.

Although I later trained at a conservatory and worked in repertory theatre in dozens of plays, it is when I became a film actor I began to see that acting required a focus on truth and honesty, and that my best work came from reacting, rather than generating a "performance." It turned my head in the right direction and turned me into a better actor.  This simple truth is what I try to instill in all my students. It does not mean an actor ignores the other ingredients that make for an interesting, and sometimes brilliant performance.  Character development, back-story, script analysis, moment before, motivation, intention, active choices and need are all important ingredients in the creating a living, multi-dimensional character.  However, the one underlying bonding force that keeps an actor focused and in-the-moment, is, as I like to call it, the luxury of reacting as if it were the first time.

About Shelly Lipkin:
Shelly is an actor, director, playwright and acting instructor. He studied acting at College of Marin, United States International University - School of Performing Arts and holds a BA in Humanities from Linfield College. He performed with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Santa Fe Repertory Theatre, PCPA in Santa Maria, and other theatres across the country. He spent 20 years in Los Angeles as a television and film actor, acting in sitcoms, films, episodic television, and commercials. During that time he helped found the West Coast Ensemble Theatre and won a Best Director Award for an original play Valentines and Killer Chili.  In 1998 he moved to Portland where he continues to act and teach. Recent film/TV credits include Extraordinary Measures,  Music Within, TNT's Leverage, Grimm, Portlandia, and the Sundance Award winning film Mean Creek. Shelly was Co-Artistic Director of Cygnet Productions from 2000 to 2003 where  he co-authored, produced and starred in Vitriol & Violets – Tales From The Algonquin Round Table which won the 2004 Oregon Book Award for Drama.  At Artists Repertory Theatre he performed in Blue/Orange, Gross Indecencies and The Clean House. Some of his favorite roles include Malvolio in Twelfth Night with Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company, and Ted in Collapse for Third Rail Repertory, which garnered him a Drammy Award. For Profile Theatre he performed in The Price, Sisters Rosensweig, and Thief River.

As a playwright, he received a RACC Grant, a Literary Arts Fellowship, and an Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship to develop his second play, Sylver Beaches, which recently had a staged reading in Paris, (yes, France), and was nominated for an Oregon Book Award. It is currently in development as a screenplay.  In the past he has taught at University of California, Berkeley, Cal Arts, Clark College, Marylhurst University, The Stella Adler Academy, Northwest Children's Theatre, Lakewood Theatre, and Young Musicians & Artists Camp. Currently he teaches acting, directing and screenwriting at The Art Institute of Portland, Portland Actors Conservatory, and privately.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012-2013 Season a Reflection of the Times

PAC’s 2012-2013 season reflects the politically charged climate of this election year, and considers the power of the individual to effect change, in their own lives and in the world.

A Bright Room Called Day opens Nov 30
Photo credit: Owen Carey
Kicking off the season is a powerful drama from the author of Angels in America. Set in 1930’s Berlin, Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day will resonate with modern audiences as it explores themes of political action and inaction and the dilemmas inherent in recognizing and taking a stand against injustice and evil. Directed by PAC faculty member Shelly Lipkin, Bright Room opens November 30.

We are fortunate to have Third Rail Repertory Theatre's Artistic Director Scott Yarbrough on board to direct the second show of the season: Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. This acclaimed absurdist play, featuring physical comedy and Stoppard's sharp and witty use of language, is both a fun romp and an existential journey. Opens Feb. 8.

The final show, Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia, is directed by PAC Producing Artistic Director Beth Harper and centers on a group 20-somethings desperately seek meaning and direction in a mini-mall parking lot. subUrbia reflects the angst, inertia, and ultimately the anger felt by modern youth in suburban America. Opens Apr. 12.

Together the three shows will raise questions for our audience about looking beyond the limited view of our immediate circumstances to find a larger purpose and path in the world.

Resident creative team Tim Stapleton (scenic design), Jeff Forbes (lighting design), Chris Mikolavich (sound design) and Jessica Bobillot (costume design) will bring creative insight, cohesion and unification to the overall production values of the season.

Included in each subscription are tickets to the annual Graduate Showcase, where graduating Second Year students present scenes and monologues representing the culmination of their study at the Conservatory. The Showcase runs May 15-18, 2013.

Subscription prices for the 2012-13 Season of Plays range from $20-$80, and are available online at www.actorsconservatory.com or by calling (503) 274-1717.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summer is over.

It’s the first day of Movement Class.

by Philip Cuomo

This is a big day. First year students are especially amped as this is the first class of the year and their first class ever at PAC. Their excitement is palpable. Little do they know I will soon make them stand in place still for an uncomfortably long time.

Before we start we identify the four movement descriptors defined by Rudolph Laban as space, weight, time and flow. They are similar to Mary Overlie’s Six Viewpoints and the nine Viewpoints Anne Bogart expanded them into. Space, weight, time and flow are incorporated into the Viewpoints and I use the word descriptor to simplify the concept and not to confuse the students. They are a given vocabulary from which to talk about how the body moves, as the Veiwpoints are ways to talk about physical action in space. Both amazing complements to the way in which Stanislavksi defines physical action in psychological terms.

But I am super excited to make the students stand still in movement class. I love the irony.

We start with a subtle energy exercise of rolling up and down the spine. I learned this from Kristan Linklater’s work in voice class. It is an exercise repeated infinitely by many teachers and executed by my students until they are sick of it.

Of course we also do several aggressive energy exercises in and around stillness. Heart-pumping sweat-inducing exercises based on the work of Jacques Lecoq. I call one of my favorites the sway. Seemingly natural, yet surprisingly calculated students begin to move very specifically from their hips side to side.

The other exercise I call the Effort Flower. Lecoq referred to  it as the Effort Rose but I have slammed and squished it and when I watch the move I see a daisy so I renamed it. The movement starts in the actor’s core and flows out the arms. If you were to draw semis circles around the extended hands you would see flower petals. The core of the actor’s body is the pistol, or is it stamen? When I do the movement it is a pistol: when my teaching assistant Sascha does it is a stamen. Of course, if you were French you might see a rose, but I see a daisy. Hence the change of name from Effort Rose to Effort Flower. The audience determines the specific reference.

The audience is inspired by the actors work: a great first lesson for the students on their first day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Part 3: Bridging the Gap: Educational Theatre to Professional Theatre

Emerging as a Professional
by Philip Cuomo
The following is the final post of a 3-part series about how an emerging theatre artist moves beyond their training into the professional world. This was inspired by a conversation I facilitated with a group of artists at Post5 Theatre as part of the first annual Outdoor Shakespeare Festival.

I finished my conservatory style theatre training in the 1980’s and with a few compatriots immediately formed a company: Oberon Theatre Ensemble. I spent three seasons working with Oberon and as a group we recognized that we were not developing as quickly as we wanted. I realize now that I was an impatient young man. But in looking for ways to improve, our company members branched out.

I met and worked with Robert Mooney, a teacher at ACT in San Francisco and a working theatre artist. I saw him perform Sir Toby Belch in New York City, one of many Sir Toby’s I have seen, and Robert was wonderful. His skill allowed him to be funny, mean and sympathetic all at once.

I enrolled in an audition workshop at the RiversideShakespeare Academy in New York that Robert taught. He created a list of ten possible audition pieces for me (that alone was worth the price of the class!). But the best bit of advice, or practice, he asked of the class - of me - was to identify people in the field I admire and want to work with. He challenged us to find ways to meet them, audition for them and eventually work with them. He made us create a list of 20. 

Mark Lamos
My list included Mark Lamos, who was the Artistic Director at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. Shortly after putting him on my list I met him on a shoot of the film Longtime Companion. Mark was playing a lead in the film and I had a chance to be an extra for a day of shooting. I took the opportunity not for the $50 I was getting paid, not for the outside possibility that I would be upgraded to an under five, or for any other reason but to have the chance to meet Mark.

I introduced myself. He barely looked me in the eye as he shook my hand and moved away. The moment passed very quickly.

A year later I auditioned for him at Hartford Stage. They had an open call for a production of Romeo and Juliet and they needed Italian looking people. When I told him of our introduction he pretended to remember, and then he cast me as a supplemental extra. I was to be a background player. 

It was an artist-defining production for me. I was surrounded by some of the best and most accomplished American theatre artists: Roberta Maxwell, Robert Stattel (who introduced me to Julie Taymor and helped me land an audition for her), Bill Camp, Calista Flockhart (before Ally McBeal) Chuck Conwell…the list was long. 

Chuck was the fight choreographer and one of the reasons I was cast was for my physical ability and how well I moved. I was looking forward to the first fight call and getting a sword in my hand. But Chuck did not give me one.  

Charles Conwell teaches broadsword for
Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop
I told him, “But, hey, I am good at this stuff!” 

He patted me on the back and said “Yeah, not everyone gets to carry a sword.” 

Instead Chuck gave me a three-foot length of sausage. I was the sausage man. Chuck then choreographed a sprawling fight with 16 combatants. And as the sausage man, I beat the crap out of the three largest swordsmen with my three foot length of sausage. 

I developed a simple and funny walk. During staging rehearsals I found opportunities to play around: slipping into a fountain, teasing the washer wenches, and getting tangled up in laundry. Then whenever Mark needed an added interesting dynamic to a scene or location he would call for the clown. “Get the clown out here,” he would say.

Before I knew it I was a clown. Bart Sher, who was the assistant director on the production, passed an essay from American Theatre to me about the commedia, other members of the artistic community suggested books to read and actors to watch. When I returned to New York I met and studied with David Shiner. I had seen David on Broadway in his Tony award-winning clown show with Bill Irwin called Fool Moon. David had made a name for himself in Cirque du Soleil. In fact he directed and created the last Cirque show here in Portland, KOOZA. After working with and learning from David for a couple of months, I never stopped working in the theatre again.

I was mentored by some of the best theatre artists in the country and they provided a path unique to my talents which helped define my artistry, my career or, as Sydney said some twenty plus years ago, my "lifestyle."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Part 2: Bridging the Gap: Educational Theatre to Professional Theatre

Collaboration and Community
by Philip Cuomo

The following is the second in a 3-part series about how an emerging theatre artist moves beyond their training into the professional world. This was inspired by a conversation I facilitated with a group of artists at Post5 Theatre as part of the first annual Outdoor Shakespeare Festival.

Growth as a theatre artist is especially challenging because it is so collaborative. One cannot quietly practice in a well-lit private studio, as a visual artist might, or a comfortable soundproof basement, as a musician might. The creation of theatre art is communal. It requires a community.

Both our educational and our professional institutions provide the infrastructure and community necessary to create theatre. Schools bring together people of like minds and interests, providing them with guidance, assignments and projects. Professional theatres bring together artists of comparable skill levels to collaborate on productions. Both form communities from which theatre is created.

The emerging artist needs to be challenged within their practice. It starts with training.

The Neighborhood Playhouse, NYC.
Professional training programs like Portland Actors Conservatory, ACT in San Francisco, The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York offer comprehensive immersion training for a community of like minded students. Professional theatres like Portland Center Stage bring together artists from around the nation. They are part of the American Theatre community.

The issue before us is how does an emerging actor develop the skills necessary to be part of the professional community of theatre artists both locally and nationally?

PAC alum Maureen Porter (far left) joins professional actors from
across the country in Anna Karenina at Portland Center Stage.
Photo: Patrick Weishampel
Immersion in an integrated curriculum establishes the basis for continual development. Training in a traditional academic setting or occasional classes does not provide a comprehensive understanding of the actor’s craft. Immersion in a program which includes enough hours exercising the voice, body and imagination creates the internal environment for an emerging actor to execute authentic action within imagined circumstances. There is a simplicity to the craft that is not easy and only through time does the emerging actor’s instrument fully understand and integrate the craft. Immersion training offers the actor the opportunity to practice and replicate the experience.

Once an actor recognizes the experience of spontaneously communicating authentic action and is able to consistently execute authentic action, they simply need to apply their craft in practice. I believe when emerging theatre artists put themselves in challenging roles in challenging plays, with talented directors who challenge them further, their skill set will develop within their practice. If an emerging actor does not learn the craft necessary to replicate authentic action it will take longer for their talent to develop. In this case, then, the gap between educational and professional theatre becomes wider.

So what is the venue for the well-trained theatre artist to develop the skills necessary to be part of the professional theatre community? The artists at Post5 have created a performance platform from which they are able to challenge themselves with difficult text in front of audiences. This is a great start. Post5 has also made a commitment to bring established professionals to either direct or act in productions, exposing their core company to wider influence.

Is that enough? Does the emerging theatre company provide the proper environment for developing skills?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bridging the Gap: Educational Theatre to Professional Theatre

Perseverance and Practice
by Philip Cuomo

Recently, I facilitated a conversation with a group of artists at Post5 Theatre as part of the first annual Outdoor ShakespeareFestival.

The artists at Post5 asked me to talk about how an emerging theatre artist moves beyond their training into the professional world. Like good acting, the answer is simple but not easy: perseverance and practice.

Perseverance is about the commitment to a lifelong body of work. Practice refers to the discipline of doing - like a yoga instructor who reminds you of poses to do and ways to challenge yourself in your “daily practice.” In order to succeed as an artist, in any discipline, one must do the work - the practice - and commit to that practice in the long term. Persevere in that practice.

54 West 22nd Street
Former home of Theatre 22
and Sydney Armus
I often think about when I first learned this lesson. About 25 years ago I worked at Theatre 22 on West 22nd Street in NYC. It was a small, 40-seat black box theatre, with a tiny office and rehearsal space. The entire place was less than 1000 square feet. The gentleman who ran the space, Sydney Armus, was a successful actor. He had been the original Speed on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, played a supporting role in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and he was a regular on the early years of Law & Order, playing an eccentric judge.

Sydney owned and lived at Theatre 22. His bed was in a loft above the office desk.

A few years after working at the small theatre, I ran into Sydney on the street and said, “Sydney! How are you doing? How’s the…how’s the…”

In his deep resonating voice, trained and practiced in Broadway theatres, he interrupted me: “’How’s the career,’ Philip? Do you mean to ask me, ‘How’s the career?’”

Armus in 2002
(Photo: offbroadwayonline)
“Well yeah, Sydney, how’s the career?” I replied.

“Philip, you and I, we don’t have careers, we have lifestyles.”

I heard that and completely understood. Here was a man in his sixties who was a successful and committed professional actor, who had chosen a life in the theatre. He devoted his time and pledged his energy to the practice of theatre. He lived in a theatre – it was his place – not his workplace.

His lifestyle exemplified the sacrifice and dedication required of anyone, in any discipline, who is an artist.

This is part one of a multi-part series on Bridging the Gap: Educational Theatre to Professional Theatre, by Portland Actors Conservatory Executive Director Philip Cuomo.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How do you define success?

In the coming weeks, Philip Cuomo, Executive Director of Portland Actors Conservatory, will be writing a series of blog posts about defining success as emerging actors bridge the gap from educational theatre to the professional theatre.

In the meantime, we're musing on this New York Times column by Sarah Ruhl, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for playwrighting, who has decided to take criticism out of the equation with her latest production, “Melancholy Play." By doing so, she is redefining how her work is judged successful - who gets to decide? How is successful theatre defined?  How do you define success?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

To the Class of 2012: A Letter from Producing Artistic Director Beth Harper

Thank you for reminding me, dear friends, that it is a thrilling, exhilarating, and passionate time to be a part of the living arts. Especially when around me I view with despair the decline of civil discourse, the demonizing of political difference, and a crayon box that seems to have lost all of its colors except for two. I can’t think of a more important time for the arts. I feel blessed. I have the honor of coming to "work," to mentor and commune with you; the kind of humans with the guts to commit two years of your precious lives to immerse yourselves in an exploration of what it means to be human, not from your own point of view but as seen through the eyes of another, and insist that we find value in seeing the world, in touching the world, tasting the world through viewpoints other than our own. You 12 artists have created an ensemble and cultivated and replenished an all too rapidly vanishing supply of social empathy. You have nourished a collective ability to stay curious about each other and the work at hand and to converse and understand each other across political, racial and religious lines. You make me feel hopeful.

To the class that will follow you, I say: stop, look, listen, observe. For it is not that these 12 people have set the bar too high. They set it and worked tenaciously at reaching that bar every single day. They will be the first to tell you that it is not an easy task to stay awake, alert, curious and out of your own way at the same time. They just knew it was important, they made it a communal goal and they did it. Just because it’s not the easiest choice doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

Now as you leave here, it is your turn to pay it forward. You will encounter scores, hundreds, of new budding artists desperate to learn, desperate for someone to pay attention to them. You will see them hanging outside your stage door, desperate for permission to be heard- to be listened to in a deep ongoing way. Mentoring the next generation is the work we must all undertake. To respect the achievements of the past we must all strive consciously, passionately, stubbornly to reward the aspirations of the future. And ironically, as one who has mentored for over 30 years, I am here to bear witness that, it is those you will mentor who will be the greatest mentors to you. You reminded me of that every single day.

In closing, class of 2012, I speak collectively for all your guides and mentors when I say: it was our pleasure. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Every perplexing, confounding, frightening, exhilarating, passionate, eye-opening emotional roller-coaster-ride moment was worth it. It was a pleasure. You are a pleasure. I told you from day one that our job was to eventually kick you out and that time has come….get out and fly like the beautiful birds that you are.



Beth Harper
Producing Artistic Director
Portland Actors Conservatory

Friday, April 6, 2012

HOLY GHOSTS Inspires Reflections on Art, Faith and Work

A conversation with Tim Stapleton
It is no secret that our Resident Scenic Designer Tim Stapleton is talented. Just look at our sets this season! What we are discovering now, however, is that his talent and artistic integrity knows no bounds.
Tim Stapleton (center) with PAC
students in HOLY GHOSTS
(photo: Owen Carey)

We are happier than a ticks on a fat dog, as they say in the South, to feature Tim (along with other guest artists Jim Davis, Michael Fisher-Welsh and Cate Garrison) in our upcoming production of Romulus Linney’s Holy Ghosts, directed by Beth Harper. PAC is also proud to show Tim’s series of paintings entitled FAITH and WORK throughout the run of Holy Ghosts, with a special reception on April 18 from 7-9pm.

Tim recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for us about his experiences and influences as a scenic designer, actor, and artist.

PAC: Can you tell us about your inspiration for the look and feel of the Holy Ghosts set? How much have you drawn from your own experiences to develop the design?

TS:  The entire PAC season was done as one "unit" design. The foundation for all three shows has been there on stage since Reckless. What changed were the needed particulars to tell each story. This helped with time, labor, and expenses, and also helped the students see exactly how a designer thinks. I actually designed Holy Ghosts first. Beth and I talked about our experiences growing up in the South. How the churches there looked and felt. Romulus Linney says that it takes place in a room in a house. Well, I drew on my experiences of going to grange halls and makeshift buildings where revivals took place. We both wanted a plank floor, and felt the color scheme should be subdued and rather brown. These people are grounded in the earth.

PAC: How do you feel about being onstage versus working behind the scenes? Is the experience what you thought it would be? What is it like acting alongside the PAC students?

TS: I love designing. It has been my life's work for 30 years now. What I find interesting is that I get to move around in an environment that I imagined. Actors can't see themselves...and therefore it can difficult to see the surroundings as you move through the space. However, throughout this process with Beth's inspirational direction, we are all in the room, and we know we are. Acting with the students is a gift. These students are so devoted...they rise to the challenges...and give of themselves. Wholeheartedly. Who wouldn't want to be on stage with that?

PAC: Can you describe your character, Cancer Man? We know he is struggling and surviving with cancer. What is your favorite thing about him? What is challenging about the character?

TS: Cancer Man is the only character in the play without a name. He is only referred to as Cancer Man. He is an elder in the church, and the services do not start without his presence. He is benevolent. He has accepted and owned his disease, and says so right when he enters the room. Therefore, he is accepting of all things and all people, especially the ones in his church community. Although he does not show frustration, that would be judgmental and he isn't, I think he just can't understand why people won't "let go and let God." My favorite thing about him is his unconditional love for others and his undying faith. One of the challenges is to be complete and authentic. Because he doesn't tell his story, as the other church members do, he IS and must BE his story.

PAC:  How did you develop the idea for FAITH and WORK? Where do you draw your inspiration for your paintings and what motivates you to do them? What would you like people to know about the art show and the paintings?
acrylic and metallics on canvas
16" X 20"

TS: The idea for the exhibit came about during an afternoon/evening on my deck with Beth reading short stories and poetry by Southern writers. She had a vision that we would do this show together. During this time, she offered me the design position and the role. Having grown up in Appalachia, as an artist I am interested in my heritage...my people. My father was a coal miner. I had been reading some material about faith in the Kentucky coal fields, and it came to me that those men who went underground were saints. They sacrificed their lives so their families could have all the necessities of life. So, why not coal miners as religious icons? I went to Michigan over break and produced most of the exhibit. Beth has helped curate, in that she wanted some female imagery in the exhibit. I have included pieces about my grandmother who worked the land much like Beth's ancestors did.

PAC: What medium are you using in your paintings and can you tell us something about your choice of medium - is it influenced by the subject or other factors?

TS: The paintings are mostly acrylic on canvas. There are a couple with paper and acrylic on canvas, and two mixed media pieces (paper, wire, jute, canvas, beeswax, acrylic on plywood). The two mixed media pieces are visual statements about my grandmother - the media were chosen specifically for those two pieces. There are four or five pieces that also have metallic leaf on them - the metallics are used to evoke a "play" on Byzantine religious iconography: coal miners as saints.
Holy Ghosts runs April 13 through April 29, with previews on April 11 and 12. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.actorsconservatory.com/ or by calling (503) 274-1717. Tim's paintings will be on display for the run of the show and all are welcome to attend the artists reception on April 18.

On the final Saturday performance, April 28, PAC is asking patrons and friends to join them with a night of Southern hospitality. Live music and a gallery showing of Tim’s work will precede the production. And a reception complete with some Southern food favorites will follow. Please contact the box office at (503)274-1717 to upgrade your ticket.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

PAC is Getting in Shape for Summer!

Summer on Stage 2012!

We are halfway through our Season of Plays here at the conservatory, and with Spring Break upon us, we have begun to look forward to the next phase of our year – summer! During the summer months, we certainly take time to smell the roses (we do live in the City of Roses, after all!), but that doesn’t mean we are not as busy as ever! 

Our summer youth conservatory provides an opportunity for us to shift focus to developing the next generation of artists and arts lovers. Summer on Stage offers Portland area youth an unmatched summer camp experience, guided by professional actors and singers who nurture and support while instilling vital skills and a sense of professionalism in our young participants.

Gabriel Abdellatif
Seventh grader Gabriel Abdellatif, who will be spending his third summer on our stage, shares, “The opportunity of an arts program where young people learn many of the same skills professional actors learn is such a rare thing. Many school’s arts programs are lacking, so to have a program so fantastic to fill the holes is a real gift.”

Summer on Stage offers students the same opportunities and instruction PAC offers in our nationally accredited two year professional actor training program. Students will study voice, movement and fundamental acting technique during the morning sessions, and in the afternoons our students will put theory into practice by producing and performing in a play. Plays range in style from Shakespeare to original works created by the students. Participants are exposed to classical and modern themes in ways that make them immediately relevant to the youth of today.

SOS students putting theory into practice

For young people like Gabriel, the benefits of SOS go beyond the stage. “I have learned about movement and what role it plays in theater. I learned how to make a resumé and audition for a show, perform Shakespeare and even write my own play,” he explains, adding, “The skills I learned in SOS have helped me outside the world of acting. They have helped me in school when we have a Literature Seminar; I am not lost when the teacher starts reading Shakespeare or in my writing classes. I know how to give my character depth because I learned to write dialogue for real people.”

Our exceptional instructors include Andrea White, most recently starring in Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Locomotion and Profile Theatre’s A Lesson Before Dying, and Melissa Whitney, a member of Northwest Classical Theatre Company, onstage now in Much Ado About Nothing. Melissa is also a Special Education teacher with the Beaverton School District.
Michelle Kopper Seymour, president of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, leads our Musical Theatre Intensive for teens, and brings her expertise as the owner of Vanport Square Studio where she combines 25 years as a professional actor/singer to bring unique insight to her classes and workshops.

Acting exercises in the PAC studio
We offer scholarships to our summer programs for promising students who require tuition assistance to gain access to our training, and various discounts are available for those who qualify.

Check our website for details of our program, and share the extraordinary benefits of a summer on stage with your favorite young person!