Press Release

Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College Announces Programming Lineup for the 36th Powerhouse Season

 

Poughkeepsie, NY (May 6, 2022)Vassar College is pleased to announce the return of the Powerhouse Theater Season. The annual summer season brings together some of today’s most influential theatrical voices and welcomes the next generation of theater artists as members of the renowned Powerhouse Theater Training Program.

Powerhouse welcomes back its longtime collaborator, New York Stage and Film (NYSAF), who will be in residence at the Powerhouse Theater to present three workshops in July. In addition to NYSAF, Powerhouse is pleased to welcome back Christa Kimlicko Jones—actor, director and educator (and director of Powerhouse’s Hello! My Baby in 2011)—as she takes on the titular role in annA, an original stage adaptation of Anna Karenina by Matt Minnicino. New to Powerhouse is Truth Future Bachman, who will present a workshop presentation of their epic musical short Luna and the Starbodies. Powerhouse welcomes the Leah Ryan Fund’s “Leah Award” winners for a weekend of free play readings. Rounding out the Powerhouse season will be the Hudson Valley Performing Arts Lab presenting musical workshops of two of Shakepeare’s plays by composer and music director (and Powerhouse alum) Scotty Arnold, featuring a cast of Hudson Valley artists. 

Vassar is also pleased to welcome to campus a new cohort of young actors, directors, and writers as members of the Powerhouse Theater Training Company. These emerging artists will present a slate of free theater throughout the season including Shakespeare’s The Tempest, adapted and directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs, and The Trojan Women, adapted by Ellen McLaughlin and directed by Ellenor Riley-Condit. Both will be performed outside at the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve. Max Reuben returns to direct the company in the innovative use of Soundpainting, a gestural language, in a completely devised project at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. And Cusi Cram (Novenas for a Lost Hospital) will helm an ensemble piece with actors playing multiple characters titled NYC: 1975.

“We are thrilled to share with our audience an exciting and diverse lineup of new plays and musicals in development,” said Producing Director Ed Cheetham

“The ethos of Powerhouse remains strong as we foster the development of emerging artists in the Powerhouse Training Program and foster the development of new works alongside our longtime partners, New York Stage and Film, as well as new partners, to create the Powerhouse Theater Season,” added Producing Director/Education Director Michael Sheehan.

“The relationship between New York Stage and Film and Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater is truly unique,” said Chris Burney, NYSAF Artistic Director. “This relationship has provided countless opportunities for generations of artists, and we are honored to be bringing professional artists to the campus.”

“Powerhouse is an annual tradition for many in the Hudson Valley community, and we are pleased to welcome our neighbors back to the campus this summer. We hope they will enjoy the chance to catch a show at the Powerhouse Theater, venture out to the Farm for an outdoor classic, or stop by the Loeb and check out the talented members of the Training Company,” said Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley

Additional projects and casting information will be announced in the coming weeks. For updates and more information about the Powerhouse schedule, visit www.vassar.edu/powerhouse/season.

 

THE 36th POWERHOUSE SEASON

MUSICAL WORKSHOPS

Luna and the Starbodies (July 8–9)
Composed and Written by Truth Bachman
In the Powerhouse Theater
Music, Words and Story by Truth Future Bachman 

Earth is no longer safe for Luna, a transient starlet on the cusp of womanhood. Hitchhiking the night sky, she conceives three young rock stars, The Starbodies, who ignite the mother within her and illuminate her cosmic destiny. A transcendent new concept album that combines the suspense of Watchmen with the camp of Glee, Luna and the Starbodies is an epic musical short about a life in transition. 

Shakespeare: Unplugged (July 29–31)
Composed and Music Direction by Scotty Arnold
Produced by Brittany Proia & Hannah Karp
In the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film’s Martel Theater
Part of the Hudson Valley Performing Arts Lab Residency 

Scotty Arnold has created musical adaptations of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and Twelfth Night. In All’s Well That Ends Well, low-born Helena pursues the love of high-born Bertram. But even if she can overcome her station, can she get Bertram to love her back? A fun mirror to Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well asks: How far is Helen willing to go to get what she wants? Twelfth Night tells the story of Viola and Sebastian, twins who are separated in a shipwreck. How will these two survive on their own in a strange land—will they find their way back to each other, and might they discover love of another kind along the way? Find out in this adventurous romantic comedy.

Arnold, a musical theater writer and five-time Powerhouse alum, dusts off these classic plays and boils them down to their essence, enlivening them with contemporary songs and music. 

These pieces are from Arnold’s Tales from Shakespeare project, which combines Shakespeare’s text with narration from Mary Lamb and Charles Lamb’s 19th century book Tales from Shakespeare and Arnold’s original songs to create accessible, moving abridgements of all twenty of Shakesepeare’s plays that the Lambs tackled. The project was recently launched and has already received development from the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Wayne State University, and the Hudson Valley Performing Arts Laboratory. 

All Musical Workshop tickets are $25 and go on sale June 1, 2022.  

PLAY WORKSHOPS

The World Is Not Silent (July 15–17)
Written by Don Nguyen
Directed by Marya Mazor
Part of the New York Stage and Film Residency

Don, an astrophotographer, returns home to reconnect with his estranged Vietnamese father only to discover that the communication gap between them has grown even wider in the wake of his father’s recent deafness. Hoping that sign language will provide a bridge to overcome that distance, Don begins taking lessons. But the closer he gets to being able to communicate with his father, the further he seems to get from actually understanding the man—leaving Don to realize that mastering a language means very little if you’re not willing to speak from the heart. Performed in English, Vietnamese, and Sign Language, The World is Not Silent is a multilingual play that explores how language simultaneously divides and unites us.

Sweet Chariot (July 22–24)
Written by Eric Lockley
Developed with the Movement Theatre Company
Part of the New York Stage and Film Residency

When the prospect of a far-off place called Home seems more appealing than the terrors of Earth, Marcus, a down-and-out teacher, launches himself on a journey across planets and centuries. Marcus risks everything, and a dysfunctional space crew will stop at nothing to discover Home. But as they encounter mysterious alien figures, Afro-Bots, and a very uncertain future, Home may not be all that they expected. Sweet Chariot is an Afrofuturistic exploration of the sorted line between escape and resilience, posing the question: Is true liberation only possible for Black people beyond Earth?

Tell Them I’m Still Young (July 28–July 30)
Written by Julia Doolittle
Directed by May Adrales
Part of the New York Stage and Film Residency

Allen and Kay are approaching sixty-five when their only daughter is killed in a car crash. Now parents without children, the two struggle to renegotiate their identities and their marriage, as the entrance of two young people revives a painful longing for what’s been lost: their family and their futures.

All Play Workshop tickets are $25 and go on sale June 1, 2022. 

READINGS

annA (June 26)
From the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Adapted by Matt Minnicino
Featuring Christa Kimlicko Jones as “Anna”
In the Powerhouse Theater

“All happy families are alike…each unhappy family is…wait…no.”
(An epic, intimate, queer refraction of Tolstoy’s classic about falling in the wrong kind of love and the story the world tells about you when you fall.)

Final Boarding Call (July 2)
Written by Stefani Kuo
In the Powerhouse Theater 
Part of the Leah Ryan Fund Residency 

Final Boarding Call tells the stories of the most recent Hong Kong protests. The play revolves around the interconnected stories of seven characters whose backgrounds and perspectives run the spectrum—a protesting brother and flight attendant sister struggling to keep her job; a Mainland Chinese mother and her estranged Hong Kong daughter; a non-Cantonese-speaking reporter and her Indian partner; and an American expat CEO and Hong Kong lover living in the shadows. The play begins and ends with a flight, an entrance into the Hong Kong protests, and how the politics we see on the news every day affects the citizens of Hong Kong in their day-to-day lives. It gives the audience a window into China’s grip on global capitalism. How far will they go to fight for family, freedom, and the right to be heard?

All readings are free. Tickets can be reserved beginning on June 17, 2022. 

Additional projects and casting will be announced at a later date. 

THE TRAINING COMPANY 

The Tempest (July 15–17) 
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs
At the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns

Straddling the line between comedy and tragedy, The Tempest focuses on Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, who was ousted from his position and found refuge on a mysterious island inhabited only by himself, his daughter Miranda, and the grotesque fish-man Caliban. Prospero may be stranded, but he’s far from helpless—he makes use of his magic staff and command of the spirit Ariel to summon a storm that wrecks on his island a ship carrying the most important people from his former life. Once the castaways have washed ashore, Prospero gets to work to avenge the wrong that’s been done to him.

The Trojan Women (July 22–24)
Adapted by Ellen McLaughlin
Directed by Ellenor Riley-Condit
At the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns

On a beach below the ruined city of Troy, a group of women await their fate at the hands of the conquering Greeks. Former queen Hecuba and those who remain of her retinue hold tightly to each other as they mourn their city and search for what comes next. Once the war is over for the armies, where does that leave us?

Things To Do When No One Can See You (July 7, 14, 21, 28)
Conceived by members of the Training Company
Composed and Directed by Max Reuben
At the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Maybe, after all this time isolating, you’ve run out of things to do when you’re all by yourself. Don’t fret. We’re here to help. Things to Do When No One Can See You utilizes the gestural composing language of Soundpainting to create a spontaneous, ensemble-based improvised performance. 

NYC: 1975 (July 24–25)
Conceived, Written, and Directed by Cusi Cram 
At the Susan Stein Shiva Theater

New York City, in the 1970’s: the decade of the serial killer Son of Sam and of a nightmarish 1977 power blackout. These were “the Bronx is burning” years. City workers — garbage collectors, hospital doctors, police officers — all went on strike, systemic police corruption abounded: Think, “Serpico.” Cusi Cram leads an ensemble of actors “like a caffeinated New Yorker, who is late to work.” Moving between board rooms and school board meetings, the play traverses the geography of the city from the Upper West Side to the Bronx where characters broker deals with bankers and drug addicts alike, exploring the power elite and the powerless in equal measure.

New Works Play Festival (July 30)
Written and Directed by members of the Training Company
At the Susan Stein Shiva Theater

This festival of new works is the culminating event for the directors and writers of the Training Company. Along with their coursework, directors and playwrights will have observed the process of bringing a new script to life in a professional rehearsal setting. Each pair of writers and directors will workshop a play which they have developed over the summer. Featuring performances by the actors of the Training Company, these short plays reflect the student’s unique voice and vision for the future of American theater.

All Training Company performances are free and open to the public. No ticket required. 

BOX OFFICE INFORMATION

Online ticket sales: June 1, 2022.

In-person ticket sales: June 16, 2022 at the Powerhouse Box Office.

All Musical Workshop and Play Workshop tickets: $25.00

Readings and Training Program Performances: Free

Box Office hours: Thursday–Sunday, 3:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Box Office: (845) 437-5599phtboxoffice@vassar.edu

BACKGROUND

Now in its 36th season, Powerhouse Theater (Ed Cheetham, Michael Sheehan, Producing Directors) is dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works. For five weeks every summer, the Powerhouse Theater Program comes to life on the Vassar College campus to provide a nurturing environment in which passionate theater lovers from students to professional practitioners and audience members learn from one another. The Powerhouse Theater Training Program provides aspiring theater professionals a chance to immerse themselves in acting, directing, and playwriting. The program’s Training Company also offers free performances throughout the season. Established as a partnership between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film in 1985, the Powerhouse Program has brought developmental productions, workshops of plays and musicals, and readings of works-in-progress to the Vassar campus.  That collaboration continues alongside new partnerships with theater institutions and artists. Together with our adventurous partners, students, and dedicated audiences, we create a crucial community—one that gives time, space, and voice to artists of the American theater.

Recent projects that have premiered in New York City developed by Powerhouse include: Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop), Diana (Broadway)

Head Over Heels (Broadway) The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theatre Company)

The Great Leap (Atlantic Theatre Company), Alice by Heart (MCC Theatre), A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (St Ann’s Warehouse) and The Wolves (Broadway–Lincoln Center Theater). Other projects developed at the Powerhouse include the Tony Award-winning Side Man and Tru; the multi-award-winning Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; the groundbreaking Broadway musical Hamilton; and Stephen Karam’s The Humans.

Vassar College, founded in 1861, is a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its campus.

2022 SEASON PARTNERS

New York Stage and Film (Christopher Burney, Artistic Director; Thomas Pearson, Executive Director; Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer, Johanna Pfaelzer, Leslie Urdang, Producing Directors) is a non-profit company dedicated to artists developing new stories for theater, film, and beyond by supporting responsive processes and by providing a home for artists free from critical and commercial pressures. Since 1985, NYSAF has been a vital incubator for emerging and established artists and their work—a catalyst for stories that start with us and continue across the country and around the world. Through this work, NYSAF has established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of the Hudson Valley and the New York metropolitan region. The New York Times calls the company a “formidable breeding ground for new work,” and dozens of notable works trace their developmental roots to Powerhouse/NYSAF, including the Tony Award winners Hamilton, Hadestown, Side Man, and The Humans; Broadway productions such as American Idiot, Head Over Heels, Junk, Bright Star, and Diana; and Pulitzer winners and finalists such as Doubt, The Wolves, and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. 

The Hudson Valley Performing Arts Lab provides opportunities to experiment with the performing arts through educational and community-centered programming in the Hudson Valley. We foster collaboration and learning by providing a home base for performing artists of all levels to create and learn together. From engaging with different techniques to performing shows to developing new work, the Lab is committed to making space for local artists to excel and thrive

The Leah Ryan Fund began giving out its annual prize, The Leah, in 2010 to honor the memory of playwright and “woman of letters” Leah Ryan, and to encourage and support the work of brilliant and unrecognized women, trans, and non-binary playwrights. It is the purpose of the prize to perpetuate the integrity, compassion, and creativity that Leah herself possessed and inspired in others.

www.vassar.edu/powerhouse
www.twitter.com/Powerhouse_THTR
www.facebook.com/VassarPowerhouse
www.instagram.com/powerhouse_thtr/

Press Contacts

Ed Cheetham, (845) 437-5902, edcheetham@vassar.edu (Powerhouse Theater)
Larry Hertz, (845) 518-3098, (845) 437-7938, lahertz@vassar.edu (Vassar College)

Posted
May 6, 2022
Powerhouse Theater
Powerhouse - Taylor Mac in A 24 DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC
Powerhouse - Taylor Mac in A 24 DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC
Musical Workshop: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Work-In-Progress), Conceived, written, performed and co-directed by Taylor Mac, Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater 2016
Photo credit: Buck Lewis/Vassar & New York Stage and Film

PHOTOS: Download high-resolution images from the Vassar College Media Relations Flickr site