Bucks County Playhouse Announces The New Playhouse Institute For Educators

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Bucks County Playhouse Announces The New Playhouse Institute For Educators

Bucks County Playhouse (BCP) has announced the launch of The Playhouse Institute, a new educational arm of the non-profit Playhouse designed to offer training for constituencies ranging from professional educators to members of the corporate community by utilizing theater and communication skills. Participants in the Institute will receive continuing education credits as The Playhouse was recently certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as an Act 48 provider.

The Institute's first program will be unveiled on May 18 when the Playhouse presents the first in a series of conferences designed for educators. With the inaugural conference focusing on Directing, the one-day workshop will be held around the opening of the Playhouse's 80th Anniversary Season and its production of "Dial 'M' for Murder." Additional one-day conferences will be held June 29 (Musical Theater Production) and August 10 (Technical Theater). A special 3-day conference will be offered November 7-9 and focus on the elements of production design.

Taught by award-winning professional theater artists currently working on Broadway and at some of the best regional theaters in the country, the Conferences for Educators are designed to inspire teachers and directors of middle school, high school and college theater with innovative teaching methods, production skills and opportunities to connect with peers and Playhouse artists.

The idea for the Conferences grew out of a series of focus groups that Producing Director Alexander Fraser held with teachers who were participating in the Playhouse's Annual Student Theater Festival.

"Several teachers said that there were no regional professional development opportunities for drama teachers, and in order to maintain their accreditation, they had to take classes that have no bearing on what they teach," Fraser said.

"As most theater artists have a debt of gratitude towards our own drama teachers, we thought the creation of an institute dedicated towards the exchange of ideas, expertise and experiences was a terrific way for us to give back to those who first inspired us to pursue our professional careers," says Michaela Murphy, Director of Education at Bucks County Playhouse.

The Playhouse has enlisted the support of a steering committee consisting of school superintendents, teachers, and arts advocates (see a complete list below). The Playhouse also received generous support for the program from Michael and Alison Dalewitz, David R. McShane, Sam and Happy Shipley and Jeffrey Seller for the 2019 Conferences.

At the May 18 conference, participants will gain valuable directorial skills they can apply to their own school productions. They will participate in an intensive day-long series of workshops and master classes with Playhouse performers, creative teams, and production staff that includes a roundtable discussion on the art of producing a show with the Playhouse's Tony Award-winning producers: Alex Fraser, Robyn Goodman, and Josh Fiedler. Additional sessions include instruction from renowned directors Mike Donahue (New York's "The Legend of Georgia McBride" and BCP's "Dial 'M' for Murder"), Hunter Foster (BCP's "Million Dollar Quartet") and Gordon Greenberg ("Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn on Broadway"). Educators will earn 9-11 hours of professional credit for the May conference.

At the second conference on June 29, participants will study Musical Theater and attend a performance of "Mamma Mia!" The workshops will focus on song interpretation, musical direction, choreography, and staging for musical theater. The August 10 event explores Technical Theater and a performance of "Always ... Patsy Cline." The workshop content will address stage management, costume design, scenic design, as well as lighting and sound design.

Tuition for any of one-day conferences is $330 and includes breakfast, lunch and a ticket to an opening night performance/opening night party. Scholarships are available.

During select conferences, additional days may be added to attend technical-dress rehearsals, note sessions with creative team and cast, and special events designed for educators to interact with production teams.

A more intensive experience will be held November 7-9. The 3-Day Conference, titled "Order, Tension, Harmony:

The Elements of Production Design." This hands-on and immersive program offers participants master-classes, panel discussions, and a front row seat during technical rehearsals through opening night of BCP's production of the Tony-winning musical "Once." Using analysis of both libretto and score, conference attendees learn from Playhouse artists, directors, and producers how script analysis is applied towards developing a cohesive concept, design, and direction of a full stage production. The conference culminates in a presentation of theatrical concepts, created by attendees during workshops, to a panel of guest artists for feedback, guidance, and support. The workshops are designed to assist educators as they experience new ways of combining the elements of theater (set, costumes, direction, staging, lights, and sound) to translate a story into production.

Tuition to the special three-day conference in November is $775.00. Scholarships are also available for this conference. Teachers can earn up to 27-33 hours of credit for the November event.

To register for any of the conferences, visit BucksCountyPlayhouse.org or contact Ellen Gallos, Education Manager at 267-603-7162.

Playhouse Institute Steering Committee

There is an extensive steering committee made up of educators and cultural leaders from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They are: Lou Volpe retired drama teacher, Harry S. Truman High School, Levittown, PA; Cory Wilkerson, Educational Theater Association; Julie Ellen Prusinowski, Former Director, NJ State Council on the Arts; Larry Capo, Former President and CEO, Young Audiences of New Jersey; Jason Harris, Superintendent of Schools for Morrisville, PA; Gina Cholan, Drama teacher at Neshaminy High School; Marlene Thornton, Drama teacher, Springfield Township High School, PA; Mark Zortman, PA Thespian Society Chapter Director; Bill Harner, Superintendent of Schools for Quakertown, PA; Clinton Ambs, Drama Teacher at Delaware Valley High School, NJ; Andrea Rooney, Drama Teacher at North Penn High School and President of PA Thespian Society; Christopher Nagy, Superintendent at Burlington County Schools, NJ; Sam Lee, Superintendent of Schools for Bensalem School District, PA; Debbie Thompson, Drama Teacher at Upper Dublin High School, PA; and Charles Lentz, Superintendent of Schools for New Hope-Solebury School District, PA.

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