Press Release

Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College Announces Programming Lineup for the 38th Powerhouse Season

New Musical and Play Workshops, Free Readings, and Training Program for Six Weeks: June 21–July 28, 2024

Vassar College is pleased to announce the lineup for the 38th 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.

Since 1985, Powerhouse has welcomed artists and students of the highest caliber to the Vassar College campus—from Lynn Nottage to John Patrick Shanley and from Taylor Mac to Sarah DeLappe. The artists and projects that join the ranks of this esteemed group in 2024 include Drew Droege (Titanique) and his new biting comedy Messy White Gays, directed by Mike Donahue (The Legend of Georgia McBride). Jocelyn Kuritsky (KPOP) and her writing partners present episodes in progress of the Webby Award-honored podcast A Simple Herstory, in collaboration with The Tank and directed by Meghan Finn. Writing team Dorie Clark and Marie Incontrera turn the patriarchal spy genre on its head with the lesbian spy thriller musical Absolute Zero, directed by Powerhouse alum Ellie Heyman (The Great Work Begins). Shanghai Sonatas, the sweeping musical based on the memoirs of Jewish refugee musicians who escaped Nazi Germany and found refuge in Shanghai in the 1930s and ’40s, comes from the creative team of Sean Gao, Alan Goodson and Joyce Hill Stoner, with direction by Chongren Fan (The Dragon King’s Daughter). Liz Dahmen returns for the second installment of Performing Art at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. And rounding out the Powerhouse Season are free readings of new works written and directed by Gloria Majule and Shariffa Ali, Savon Bartley and Adam Coy (The Tank), C.J Baer and Judson Jones (Theatre East), Max Reuben, and Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, the winner of the Leah Ryan Fund’s “Leah Award.”

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 Twelfth Night, adapted and directed by Devin Kawaoka (“Chicago Med”), and The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Caley Chase. Both will be performed outside at the Preserve at Vassar. 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 theater-making team Hal Cosentino and Ellenor Riley-Condit explore humanity’s capacity to defy our assumed limits in Marathon.

“It’s a privilege to share with our audiences a diverse, challenging, and joyous lineup of plays and musicals in progress,” said Producing Director Ed Cheetham.

“The 38th Powerhouse Season offers our audiences the opportunity to journey across the world, from a Hell’s Kitchen loft in Messy White Gays to a bumpy Tanzanian road trip in Gloria Majule’s Possessed; from a (possibly) haunted house in Max Reuben’s new play to the haven and challenges of Shanghai during the rise of the Nazis,” added Producing Director Michael Sheehan.

“Vassar’s role in shaping the history of American theater cannot be overstated. Each summer, the Powerhouse Theater Season adds to that history by welcoming such talented artists and students, along with our discerning Hudson Valley audiences,” said Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley.

“As always, at the foundation of the Powerhouse program is the Training Company. We are delighted to welcome a new cohort of dedicated aspiring-artists, who come from all over the country to study, create, and perform alongside our world-class faculty and professional artists,” added Sheehan.

“We can’t wait to welcome our loyal audiences back to the Vassar campus. See you this summer!” concluded Cheetham.

Additional projects and casting information will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit the website for updates and more information about the Powerhouse season schedule.


Musical Workshops

Absolute Zero (July 12–14)
Book and lyrics by Dorie Clark
Music by Marie Incontrera
Directed by Ellie Heyman
Choreographed by Bo Park
In the Powerhouse Theater

Absolute Zero is a gleeful reclamation of the patriarchal and often sexist spy genre: a classic form in a decidedly new wineskin. Absolute zero is the lowest temperature known to humanity. It’s just a theoretical construct that’s never actually been reached—until now. By terrorists. But when the CIA’s top agent—sexy lesbian lothario Sam Knight—is called in to investigate, she never expected that in order to save humanity, she’d have to excavate her own past. Fueled by a contemporary pop-rock and jazz score, Absolute Zero is a taut, funny musical thriller written for a cast of female, trans, and gender nonconforming performers.

Absolute Zero has been developed with the help of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, Apples and Oranges Arts, New Musicals, Inc.,, The York Theatre Company, New York Theatre Barn, and Ohio Wesleyan University. Absolute Zero was an O’Neill Semi-Finalist in 2023. Dorie Clark and Marie Incontrera were Dramatists Guild Foundation Virtual Fellows finalists in 2023.

Shanghai Sonatas (July 26–28)
Music and Concept by Sean Gao
Book by Alan Goodson
Lyrics by Joyce Hill Stoner
Directed by Chongren Fan
Musical Arrangement and Direction by Asher Denburg
Produced by Diane Fisher and LED Theatrical Productions
In the Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film

During WWII, when the push to escape the horrors of the Nazi Regime in Europe escalated, cosmopolitan Shanghai was the only place in the world that would accept European refugees without a visa. Forced into a ghetto by Japanese occupiers, the two diverse cultures of East and West soon shared a warm and enduring bond through the language of music, including connections both romantic and humorous. With the beauty of its musical score and compelling storyline set within the fading glamor and wartime danger of the city in the 1930s and ’40s, Shanghai Sonatas illustrates how the seeds sown by these fateful events of the past resonate to this day.

All Musical Workshop tickets are $30 and go on sale May 30, 2024.

Play Workshops

A Simple Herstory (July 5–7)
Part of The Tank Residency
Created by Jocelyn Kuritsky
Written by Jonathan A. Goldberg, Jenny Turner Hall
Directed by Meghan Finn
Series Director and Co-Executive Producer Donya K. Washington
In the Powerhouse Theater

A Simple Herstory is a groundbreaking—Telly Award-winning and Webby-honored—deviant, multi-platform audio fiction exploration of the 100+ women who have run for President of the United States. The initial season revolved around Victoria Woodhull, arguably the first woman to run in 1872, before women had the right to vote. Sections of Season 2 revolve around the life and times of Margaret Chase Smith. Smith ran for President of the United States in 1964. She was a member of the Republican Party. She was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. While it is an audio drama, Season 2 borrows from 20th-century film styles to create a complex portrait of the Senator from Maine, challenging preconceived notions, historical facts, and our perceptions of American culture. As with Season 1, it takes a lesser known story, presents it, and then works to deconstruct it.

Messy White Gays (July 19–21)
Written by Drew Droege
Directed by Mike Donahue
Developed and Produced by The Fabulous Invalid
In the Powerhouse Theater

Sunday morning. Hell’s Kitchen. Brecken and Caden have just murdered their throuple-mate and stuffed him into a Jonathan Adler credenza. Unfortunately, they’ve invited friends over for brunch. Feel bad for them! They’re MESSY WHITE GAYS!

All Play Workshop tickets are $30 and go on sale May 30, 2024. 


This Place Is Definitely Haunted (June 21)
Written By Max Reuben
In the Powerhouse Theater

Three teenagers gather in a spooky old house to go ghost hunting. A group of theater makers gathers in a spooky old theater to explore the sinister events of that night. A Russian nesting doll of scary stories, This Place is Definitely Haunted blurs the line between fact and fiction, reality and imagination, and explores the very human desire to scare the living daylights out of ourselves and each other.

Extinction (June 23)
Written by C.J. Baer
Directed by Judson Jones
In the Powerhouse Theater

Extinction follows Louis Ebbings (née Wilder), a brilliant and promising PhD student in the early 1980s, interested in the rising field of feminist biology, who discovers, as the singular female in her advisor’s lab, androcentric bias in her very own backyard. Challenging the sexist narrative within Darwinian theory, Louis discovers just how powerful these forces she’s working against are, and unwittingly becomes the subject matter of her own studies.

Holes in the Shape of My Father (June 27)
Written by Savon Bartley
Directed by Adam Coy
In the Powerhouse Theater

What spirals when an absent father reaches out to his son over Instagram with no apologies, no remorse, and 20 years’ worth of unanswered questions? Savon Bartley unravels the nuances of boys who grew up without a father. Told by the son of a mother who tried, Holes in the Shape of My Father is the myth and miracle of boys becoming men.

Possessed (or, “The Crazy African Girl” Play) (June 28)
Written by Gloria Majule
Directed by Shariffa Ali
In the Powerhouse Theater

Furaha returns home to Tanzania on a medical leave and is reunited with her brother Angaza. Unfortunately for her, he believes her mental illness is in fact a demon possession. As the siblings road-trip from Dar Es Salaam to Singida, they encounter colorful characters and testing challenges along the way. Possessed is a dramedy that explores the toll it takes to leave home, and the toll it takes to be back.

Ping Pong Play (June 29)
Written by Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin
In the Powerhouse Theater

Ping Pong Play is about keeping up with your best friend at the end of the world, non-chronologically following Yining and Anjali over nine decades playing competitive ping pong. This work imagines a speculative future informed by our present, with militarism and climate change shaping how Yining and Anjali can connect.

All readings are free. Tickets can be reserved beginning on June 13, 2024.

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

The Training Company

Twelfth Night (July 12–14)
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Devin Kawaoka
At The Preserve

Twelfth Night begins as all good tales do...with a shipwreck. Viola finds herself having lost her dear twin brother and stranded on the coast of Illyria. With no family or means to protect her, she disguises herself as a servant to the ruler of Illyria, Duke Orsino. She soon loses herself in a Bermudian Triangle of love that steals the hearts and minds of those who dare to pass through it. Our question: Will Viola be able to find herself amongst the wreckage—not of her ship, but of her love?

The Taming of the Shrew (July 19–21)
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Caley Chase
At The Preserve

After falling asleep outside a bar, tinker Christopher Sly awakes inside a wild comedy—a play! Sly plays Katherine—sister to the fair Bianca, eldest daughter to Baptista, and betrothed to the fortune-seeking Petruchio. Full of ogling suitors, witty wordplay, and subversive performances of power, gender, and love, this faced-paced adaptation deconstructs The Taming of the Shrew to its bones, seeking—through great humor, absurdity, and role-play—a most intimate connection.

We Are Gathered Together (July 4, 11, 18, 25)
Conceived by members of the Training Company
Conceived and Composed by Max Reuben
Developed and performed by members of the Training Company
In the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

INSERT SALUTATION HERE. It is with GREAT JOY/A HEAVY HEART/INCREDIBLE EXCITEMENT that we invite you to INSERT EVENT HERE to CELEBRATE/MOURN/COMMEMORATE our dear INSERT NAME HERE on the occasion of INSERT SPECIFICS HERE. As we gather together to share in this special moment, we kindly ask that you RSVP by INSERT DATE HERE. Your presence would mean a lot to us and to INSERT NAME HERE, and we look forward to sharing this DELIGHTFUL/SOLEMN/MOMENTOUS occasion with you. Thank you.

We Are Gathered Together utilizes the gestural composing language of Soundpainting to create a spontaneous, ensemble-based improvised performance.

Marathon (July 21–22)
Co-created by Hal Cosentino and Ellenor Riley-Condit
Devised by Members of the Training Company
In the Susan Stein Shiva Theater

It is 490 BC. After days of fighting, Pip runs 26 miles without stopping from the Battle of Marathon to the city of Athens to warn his fellow citizens that the approaching Persian navy has no claim to Athenian land. He shouts: “We have won!” before collapsing. Marathon is a devised piece that uses this origin story as an inciting incident, an event that connects feats of human endurance across time to ask: What is that spark that makes us keep going beyond what we think is possible? Together, we’ll run a marathon from 490 BC to today, trying, with our own bodies, to understand humanity’s capacity to defy our assumed limits. When we push past the boundaries of our imaginations, what are we running towards?

New Works Play Festival (July 27)
Written and Directed by members of the Training Company
In 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 that they have developed over the summer. Featuring performances by the actors of the Training Company, these short plays reflect the students’ unique voice and vision for the future of American theater.

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

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

Special Event

Performing Art (July 14)
Conceived and Directed by Liz Dahmen
In the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Performing Art is a highly collaborative performance project that brings together an ensemble of local creators to explore the relationship between visual and performing art. This production takes inspiration from the works currently on display at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and the final presentation is a site-specific one-of-a-kind performance inside the gallery.

Box Office Information

Online ticket sales: May 30, 2024

In-person ticket sales: June 6, 2024 at the Powerhouse Box Office

All Musical Workshop and Play Workshop tickets: $30.00

Readings and Training Program Performances: Free

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

Box Office: (845) 437-5599,


Now in its 38th 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 joint endeavor with New York Stage and Film, Vassar College continues to produce The Powerhouse Season, alongside new partnerships with theater institutions and individual 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: The Notebook(Broadway), The Connector (MCC Theatre), Luna and the Starbodies (Lincoln Center), Sweet Chariot (The Public), 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.

2024 Season Partners

The Fabulous Invalid is a theatrical production company founded in 2018 by Jamie DuMont and Rob Russo with the mission to illuminate untold stories and fascinating personalities on air and on stage with a reverence for the past, a bold outlook for the future, and a dash of panache. The company takes its name from the title of a 1938 backstage play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart that has since become a loving nickname for Broadway itself—always deemed on the verge of decline, yet always bouncing back: the fabulous invalid! Projects to date include The Wiz and Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ on Broadway, Call Fosse at the Minskoff, Broadway Barbara Live! Off-Broadway, and Messy White Gays, in addition to four podcasts for the Broadway Podcast Network, and several additional projects in development.

The Hudson Valley Performing Arts Lab provides opportunities to experiment with the performing arts through educational and community-centered programming in the Hudson Valley. They 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.

Lavender Entertainment helps artists manage, market, and produce their work. They handle business so you can focus on your craft.

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.

LED Theatrical Productions / Diane Fisher is a producer, real estate entrepreneur, founder of LED Theatrical Productions, co-founder of MD Films, and proud mother of twins. As a producer, Diane was humbled by Shanghai Sonatas’ true story of pain and purpose. Exploring the human condition through storytelling is vital to a ll Diane does. Inspired by reading to a blind professor at The Lighthouse Guild, she wrote the story and produced the film Blind, starring Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore. Other projects in development include the film With Prejudice and the docudrama series Intersex. In addition to her theatrical and film production work, Diane co-founded Fisher Pei and Terrace and Garden Properties. After studying with the visionaries at Pratt Institute, Diane began her career as a stylist in film and television.

The Tank, celebrating 20 years in 2023, is a nonprofit arts presenter that champions performing artists working across a variety of disciplines engaged in the pursuit of new ideas and forms of expression. Led by Artistic Director Meghan Finn, Director of Artistic Development Johnny G. Lloyd, and Managing Producer Molly FitzMaurice, the company provides a home to artists working and experimenting in theater, comedy, dance, film, music, puppetry, and storytelling by removing the economic and accessibility barriers from the creation of new work.

Artists who have developed their craft at The Tank include Tony Award-winner Alex Timbers, Tony Award Nominee Amy Herzog, Lucy Alibar, Kyle Jarrow, Reggie Watts, Kyle Abraham, Andrew Bujalski, We Are Scientists, and tens of thousands of others. The Tank has been honored with a 2020 OBIE Award for Institutional Recognition celebrating their Extraordinary Support of Emerging Artists, 6 Drama Desk nominations for their co-produced work, and an official New York City Council proclamation. Recent co-produced work includes hit productions of Three Scenes in the Life of a Trotskyist by Andy Boyd (2024), Mahinerator by Jerry Lieblich (2023), New York Times Critics’ Picks Simon and His Shoes (2022), Taxilandia (2021, 2023 OBIE Award), OPEN by Crystal Skillman (2019), Red Emma & The Mad Monk by Alexis Roblan (2018), and The Offending Gesture by Mac Wellman (2016); as well as Drama Desk Award-nominated productions The Hunger Artist (2018), The Paper Hat Game (2017), the ephemera trilogy (2017), Ada/Ava (2016) and youarenowhere (2016). The Tank’s track record of artistic success is not an accident of their model: it is a direct outcome of the culture of creative possibility they have intentionally cultivated.

Theatre East is a nonprofit theater company whose mission is to provide the community with a platform to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world we share through theater. Theatre East stirs the human side of current issues by fostering new plays of social relevance through New York and world premieres. Furthermore, they create access to art makers and storytellers through the space they manage and operate in Long Island City, the Court Square Theater.

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Press Contact: Ed Cheetham, (845) 437-5902,

May 15, 2024
Powerhouse Theater
Two people on a dark stage smiling and looking at each other with microphones and podiums in front of them
Sav Souza and Ariella Serur in WE START IN MANHATTAN, Powerhouse Theater 2023.
Photo: Buck Lewis