The Powerhouse Theater program was established in 1985 as a partnership between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film to provide a nurturing environment to support artistic process; promote collaboration between artistic peers and audiences; and to facilitate the sharing of knowledge from one artistic generation to the next. 

Initially modest in scope, Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Season produced three play readings and three mainstage productions, including Savage in Limbo written by the then relatively unknown John Patrick Shanley. For the next several years, the size and scope of the summer season grew, incorporating screenplays and play workshops. The 1990s saw the inclusion of musical theater. By the 2000s, Powerhouse had developed the reputation of being a safe haven for playwrights, directors and actors. Today, Vassar College continues to produce the Powerhouse Season, alongside new partnerships with theater institutions and individual artists.

Coinciding with the professional season since its inception is The Powerhouse Theater Training Program, a rigorous conservatory-style training program for young actors, directors and writers. Much like the professional company, The Training Program has expanded over the years, nearly tripling in yearly enrollment. Each year the Training Company presents a season of work, often classic in nature, but has also included the development of new work, notably Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice and Melancholy Play, Leah Ryan’s adaptation of The Seagull, and Caridad Svich’s 12 Ophelias.

Notable Artists From Vassar & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Program (1985–2021):

Ayad Akhtar, Ngozi Anyanwu, Jon Robin Baitz, Clare Barron, Stephen Belber, Melia Bensussen, Jocelyn Bioh, Lewis Black, Eric Bogosian, Jason Robert Brown, Trip Cullman, Colman Domingo, Olympia Dukakis, Anton Dudley, Will Eno, Michael Friedman, Leah C. Gardiner, Marcus Gardley, Zach Helm, Beth Henley, Keith Huff,  David Henry Hwang, Sheryl Kaller, Tommy Kail, Stephen Karam, Warren Leight, Tracy Letts, Taylor Mac, Martyna Majok, Michael Mayer, Mozhan Marnò, Steve Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Maria Mileaf, Lynne Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith, Lisa Peterson, Billy Porter, Frank Pugliese, Brian Quijada, Josh Radnor, Theresa Rebeck, Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik, Leigh Silverman, Liz Swados, Regina Taylor, The Debate Society, John Turturro, V (formerly Eve Ensler), Patricia Wettig, Lauren Yee