Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Be Not Afraid of Greatness: See TWELFTH NIGHT at PAC!

A young woman washes ashore in a strange land after surviving a shipwreck that separated her from her twin brother, whom she believes dead. She takes a position as a page serving the handsome Duke Orsino. The catch? She must disguise herself as a boy to get the job. Thus, our heroine Viola spends her days as “Cesario,” and soon finds herself in a bind when she falls in love with the Duke, while at the same time inadvertently causing the Duke’s love interest Lady Olivia to fall in love with her. Just when it seems things could not get any more complicated, Viola’s brother Sebastian arrives!
Photo: Owen Carey, Design: Tim Stapleton

It all makes for a very comical, adventurous and romantic tale of mistaken identity - a gender-bending celebration of love and life! It is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the second show in Portland Actors Conservatory’s 2011/12 Season, playing Feb. 17 through Mar. 4, with previews on Feb. 15 & 16.

“It’s such a fun, accessible, passion filled story with such wonderfully written characters,” says director and PAC faculty member Michael Fisher-Welsh. “It’s got a shipwreck, twins, mistaken identity, more music than any other of Shakespeare’s plays, 4 sword fights, yellow stockings and a dungeon. When Beth Harper asked which Shakespeare play I’d like to direct for the 2nd year students, Twelfth Night immediately came to my mind.”

Taking the stage as a guest artist, PAC Executive Director and Third Rail Repertory company member Philip Cuomo plays the straitlaced Malvolio, head steward to Olivia. Much of the comic relief in the play comes at Malvolio’s expense, including an incident involving “yellow stockings…ever cross-gartered.”

“The play is often referred to as Shakespeare’s ‘gateway to the tragedies,’ explains Fisher-Welsh, who was most recently seen on stage with the title role in King John at the Northwest Classical Theatre Company, “not only because afterwards is when he started writing his greatest tragedies, but also, I believe, because there is a dark side to many of the characters in Twelfth Night and it’s been interesting exploring those aspects of the play.”

PAC’s second-year students round out the cast, and the resident creative team includes Tim Stapleton (scenic design); Jeff Forbes (lighting); Jessica Bobillot (costumes); and Chris Mikolavich (sound).

You won't want to miss PAC's latest production! As it says in the play,"be not afraid of greatness!" Tickets are available NOW!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Art mirrors life mirrors art mirrors life, ad infinitum. Such is certainly the case for PAC’s Artistic Director and founder Beth Harper, who has been cast as…wait for it….an acting instructor!

In Artists Rep’s production of Circle Mirror Transformation, written by Annie Baker and directed by Allen Nause, Beth will be playing the character of Marty, who teaches an “adult creative drama” class at a small-town community center.

Winner of the 2009 Obie Award for Best New American Play, the New York Times called Circle Mirror Transformation "an absolute feast” and declared it, “the kind of unheralded gem that sends people into the streets babbling and bright-eyed with the desire to spread the word.”

The play follows Marty’s six-week class and the real-life dramas that unfold between her students: a recently divorced carpenter, a high school junior, a former actress, and Marty’s husband. As the students progress through seemingly shallow theatre games into deeper psychological waters, they discover that their lives have changed forever.

Asked to explain the difference between her own philosophy of acting instruction and that of her character, Beth says, “Marty’s approach to acting is therapeutic - she is directly and specifically trying to get people to see themselves. I do not believe acting is therapy, but if the process is surrendered to completely and utterly, the actor will certainly be affected on a therapeutic level." "The similarities," Beth adds, "are that we are both based in the human connection, wanting to explore self and all its possibilities." 

Artists Rep says, “By the end of the class, layers of emotional baggage are stripped off to reveal how truth, change and public performance can possibly ‘set the body and spirit free.’”

“The audience is not told everything,” comments Beth, “everyone will come away with a different story – even the actors.”

Don’t miss this unique theatre experience! Tickets are on sale now. The show runs February 7 through March 11, 2012 at ArtistsRepertory Theatre.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

PAC Welcomes New Faculty!

Brian Demar Jones

Portland Actors Conservatory is excited to announce the addition of Brian Demar Jones to our Studio Program faculty!

Brian will be teaching ACTING: LEVEL ONE, which begins Jan. 23 and continues for eight weeks on Monday evenings, and SCENESTUDY INTENSIVE, beginning Feb. 21 and continuing every Tuesday evening for six weeks. Both programs are currently open for enrollment.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Brian’s caliber,” says PAC Artistic Director and founder Beth Harper, “His belief systems so closely mirror our own and his methodology is a perfect fit for our students.”

A newcomer to Portland, Brian was most recently a company member with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, where he also taught workshops. Brian has worked professionally at the 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, Taproot Theatre, and many other venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. He can be seen in the upcoming production The Brother/Sister Plays at Portland Playhouse, and all over this year’s FertileGround Festival.  

Brian is an experienced educator, having taught for the University of Washington, where he received his MFA degree in Acting, as well as various theatres and performing arts institutes. He has led workshops and classes in Audition Technique, Suzuki/Viewpoints, Scene Study, Basic and Advanced Acting, and Musical Theatre, among many others. 

Brian is a great addition to the studio faculty because he has mentored and worked with actors from the extreme novice to the seasoned professional. Our studio program offers individuals of all skill levels a place to enhance and develop their foundational techniques. 

“I am interested in helping students cultivate their own process,” explains Brian, “I always tell my students that my way is not the only way but one way among many.” 

Brian’s methodology mirrors that of PAC and focuses on working as an ensemble, utilizing a fusion of Stanislavky based method of physical actions with Viewpoints & Suzuki to create organic and powerful actors. He is well-versed in both classical and contemporary theatre, with particular emphasis on Shakespeare and new works. 

As an actor/ director / singer, he brings with him a variety of skills to share and help others succeed in their own personal goals. He sets the same expectations for all, providing the skills necessary to succeed but understanding that each student’s journey is unique. 

PAC’s Studio Program reflects the belief system of our full-time Conservatory Program. Both programs are rooted in exploring impulses and the concepts of objective, obstacle and tactic, fundamental to the method of acting developed by Stanislavsky and continued by artists and theorists such as Uta Hagen. 

Our strong theoretical basis and experienced faculty make our program ideal for the working professional actor seeking to exercise their instrument, as well as the newcomer to the art of acting.

Click here to read more about our Studio Program, enrolling now.