The Primary Stages School of Theater Adds New Masterclass Series, Features Michael Cristofer, Lisa Kron, Neil LaBute & More

The Primary Stages School of Theater Adds New Masterclass Series, Features Michael Cristofer, Lisa Kron, Neil LaBute & More

The Primary Stages School of Theater (PSST) has announced a newly created Master Class Series that was created to provide students the chance to gain rare insight and experience from some of the finest working professionals in the theater. Special guests for the inaugural series include Michael Cristofer, Lisa Kron, Neil LaBute, Craig Lucas, Austin Pendleton, and Adam Rapp.

As a free supplement to the PSST curriculum, all PSST students are invited to attend these special evenings, which have been designed especially by each visiting guest. Attendees will experience a comprehensive and illuminating night that is part lecture, master class, workshop, and Q&A.

Andrew Leynse, Primary Stages Artistic Director had this to say, "We're extremely proud of the School's growth over the last three years and the accomplishments of our students. Looking ahead, the Master Classes will raise the bar even higher for our curriculum, providing our students with insider-knowledge of what life is like for the professional theater artist."

Michael Cristofer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for the Broadway production of his play, The Shadow Box. Other plays include Breaking Up (Primary Stages); Ice (MTC); Black Angel (Circle Repertory Company); The Lady and The Clarinet (Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf Theater, Off-Broadway and on the London Fringe), and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason which received the American Theater Critics Award as the best play produced in the United States during the 1996-97 season. Mr. Cristofer's film work includes the screenplays for The Shadow Box directed by Paul Newman (Golden Globe Award, Emmy nomination); Falling in Love, with Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro; The Witches of Eastwick with Jack Nicholson; The Bonfire of The Vanities, directed by Brian DePalma; Breaking Up, starring Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek; and Casanova, starring Heath Ledger. As an actor, he has performed in over a hundred plays including Romeo and Juliet (NYSF Central Park), Trumpery (Atlantic Theater), A Body of Water (Primary Stages), The Cherry Orchard (Lincoln Center), The Seagull (with JoAnne Woodward), Three Sisters (Williamstown), and the world premiere of The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With Key to the Scriptures by Tony Kushner (Guthrie Theater).

Lisa Kron has been writing and performing theater since coming to New York from Michigan in 1984. Her play, Well opened to critical acclaim on Broadway at the Longacre Theater in March of 2006 and received two Tony nominations. It previously premiered at The Public Theater in Spring 2004 and was listed among the year's best plays by the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Newark Star Ledger, Backstage and the Advocate, followed by an acclaimed run at A.C.T. in San Francisco in 2005. It is included in the anthology, "Best Plays of 2004-2005." Her play, 2.5 Minute Ride premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 1996 and then in New York at The Public Theater in 1999. It has also been presented by theaters including the London Barbican, Japan's Rinkogun company, Baltimore Center Stage, A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle, American Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, and Trinity Repertory Company/Perishable Theater. 2.5 Minute Ride received an OBIE Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, an L.A. Drama-Logue Award, and the GLAAD Media Award for best play on or Off Broadway and was named the best autobiographical show of 1999 by New York Press. Kron's other plays include 101 Humiliating Stories (Drama Desk nomination), Charity and Montecore, two short plays included in the anthology "Neon Mirage and presented at the 2006 Humana Festival and the New York Fringe, 43/13 -produced by Dad's Garage, Theatre in Atlanta, and Martha, which she co-wrote with and for choreographer/performer Richard Move. Kron is also a founding member of the OBIE and Bessie Award-winning theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, whose plays, Oedipus at Palm Springs, Brave Smiles, Brides of the Moon and The Secretaries have all been produced by their theatrical home, New York Theater Workshop, and have been performed widely throughout the country both by the Brothers and by other companies. Lisa is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award, an NEA/TCG playwriting fellowship and grants from the Creative Capital Foundation and New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches playwriting at Yale Drama School.

Neil LaBute's film credits include In the Company of Men, which won the New York Critics Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession The Shape of Things, The Wicker Man and Lakeview Terrace. His most recent film, Death at a Funeral, which stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, is currently in post-production and will be released in April, 2010. LaBute's plays include bash: latter-day plays, The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, and The Mercy Seat, Autobahn, Fat Pig, This is How It Goes, Some Girl(s), Wrecks, In a Dark Dark House, and reasons to be pretty. He is also the author of several fictional pieces published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Playboy, among others. A collection of his short stories titled "Seconds of Pleasure" was published by Grove/Atlantic in 2004.

Craig Lucas's plays include Missing Persons, Blue Window, Reckless, God's Heart, The Dying Gaul, Stranger, This Thing of Darkness (with David Schulner), Small Tragedy, Prayer For My Enemy and The Singing Forest. Screenplays include Longtime Companion, The Secret Lives of Dentists, Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless and The Dying Gaul. Musical works: The Light In The Piazza (music and lyrics by Adam Guettel), Three Postcards (music and lyrics by Craig Carnelia), Orpheus in Love (composer Gerald Busby), Two Boys (composer Nico Muhly). Translations/adaptations: Galileo, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, Miss Julie. Directorial credits include Saved or Destroyed, Play Yourself, This Thing of Darkness, The Dying Gaul (film) and Birds of America (film).

Austin Pendleton was last represented in New York as a director by two new plays, both produced last fall: Michael Weller's Fifty Words, produced by the Manhattan Class Company and Lillian Yuralia by Barbara Eda-Young produced at La Mama. Mr. Pendleton has also directed (and acted) at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, where he is a member of the Ensemble, and at the Pearl Theatre, where two years ago he directed Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic and will soon direct Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carre. At HB Studio, where he teaches acting, he has directed the HB Ensemble productions of Arthur Miller's The American Clock and Gorki's Summerfolk. He received a Tony nomination for directing Ms. Hellman's The Little Foxes, which starred ElizaBeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton. He is also an actor; his most recent New York appearance was in Wendy Kesselman's musical The Black Monk, and his next will be in Romulus Linney's new play Love Drunk at the Abingdon Theatre, where he appeared last spring in Bruce Robinson's Another Vermeer. Mr. Pendleton has written three plays: Orson's Shadow, Uncle Bob, and Booth, all published and all produced in New York and extensively elsewhere. He has written the book for a new musical of Shaw's Candida, called A Minister's Wife, soon to be produced at Chicago's Writers' Theatre, directed by Michael Halberstam, with music by Josh Schmidt and lyrics by Jan Tranen.

Adam Rapp's plays include NocturnE (A.R.T., Off-Broadway at NYTW), Ghosts In The Cottonwoods (Victory Gardens; The Arcola, London), Animals and Plants (A.R.T.), Blackbird (The Bush, London; Pittsburgh City Theatre; Off-Broadway with Edge Theater), Stone Cold Dead Serious (A.R.T., Off-Broadway with Edge Theater), Finer Noble Gases (26th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, Off-Broadway at Rattlestick, 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Faster (Off-Broadway at Rattlestick), Trueblinka (Off-Broadway at the Maverick Theater), Dreams Of The Salthorse (Encore, S.F.), Gompers (Pittsburgh City Theatre; The Arcola, London), Red Light Winter (Steppenwolf, Off-Broadway with Scott Rudin Productions at The Barrow Street Theater), Essential Self-Defense (Playwrights Horizons/Edge Theater, Drama Desk Nomination for Best Original Music), American Sligo (Rattlestick), Bingo With The Indians (The Flea), The Metal Children (Vineyard Theatre), and Kindness (Playwrights Enrollment is now underway for acting classes including Scene Study, Styles of Acting, On-Camera Technique, a new class in musical theater and private coaching. Playwriting courses include The Rewrite, The Libretto, The One-Act and Screenwriting.

Primary Stages School of Theater (PSST) is an interdisciplinary institution where students may hone their skills and develop their careers in a nurturing and collaborative environment. The School provides extensive opportunities for emerging artists, professionals, and life-long learners to collaborate with working professional artists while building strong relationships within the New York theater community.

Special guest instructors for the Fall 2209 semester include Mark Blum, Tony-Award winners Joanna Gleason and Mary Louise Wilson, Tony Award Nominees, Daniel Jenkins and Thomas Sadoski, director Leigh Silverman, and Cusi Cram, playwright of Primary Stages current production, A Lifetime Burning.

Information is available by contacting Director of PSST Tessa LaNeve at (212) 840-9705 x212, via email at, or by visiting the Primary Stages website at

Primary Stages has given life to more than 100 new plays, many of them world premieres, by writers such as Horton Foote, A.R. Gurney, Willy Holtzman, Julia Jordan, Romulus Linney, Donald Margulies, Melissa Manchester, Terrence McNally, John Henry Redwood, John Patrick Shanley, Mac Wellman, Lee Blessing and Michele Lowe. The company also continues to work with emerging playwrights through commissions and its artist development program, The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group.

Over the years, the company has received considerable critical acclaim and numerous theater and literary awards and nominations, including TONY, Obie, AUDELCO, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel , Drama League and Drama Desk Awards. The Fourth Wall, All in the Timing, The Old Settler, Missing/Kissing, The Model Apartment, Scotland Road, You Should Be So Lucky, The Stendhal Syndrome, Sabina, Dividing the Estate and In The Continuum are among the many plays brought to national attention by Primary Stages.

Photo credit Genevieve Rafter Keddy

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