Summer Theatre Institute in spotlight July 16 to 29

stage combatWorkshops on all aspects of acting and performance, as well as a trip to the Shaw Festival in Canada, will highlight SUNY Oswego’s Summer Theatre Institute from July 16 to 29.

The program is designed for high school students entering their junior and senior years. Participants completing the institute will receive three semester hours of college credit.

Enrollment is at capacity for its 10th straight year with a waiting list, said the institute’s coordinator, Mark Cole, professor and chair of theatre at SUNY Oswego. Students have registered from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and around New York state.

Sessions will cover such topics as fundamentals of acting, improvisation, relaxation techniques, movement, choreography, stage combat and voice training. Special seminars and workshops will address such issues as auditioning, mask work and acting for commercials.

Instructors bring professional production and teaching backgrounds to their workshops and classes. Jennifer Li, who recently choreographed the major movie “American Dreamz” (starring Hugh Grant and Dennis Quaid), will teach acting, directing and choreography. She is the associate director of the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education and a SUNY Oswego alumna.

Fellow SUNY Oswego graduate Kevin Kennison, a guest instructor in directing and acting, has done casting for Broadway, touring shows and Disney Theatrical Productions. Ward Wright of the Brigham Young University theatre faculty will lead sessions on stage combat, voice and speech. Chris Enright, who will teach acting and improvisation, is a member of the New York City-based Paddywhack Players troupe that offers movement-based productions for young audiences.

The institute will visit the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Saturday, July 22, to allow students “to see one of the premier theatre companies in North America perform two plays that are rich in character, intellect and passion,” Cole said. Students will see Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Too True to Be Good.”

Students will also visit the nearby Sterling Renaissance Festival.

“There’s very little down time. Since the institute is just two weeks, it’s important to explore as many facets of acting work as possible,” Cole said. “They will interact in seminars that deal with preparing and auditioning for colleges, on-camera acting techniques for commercial and dramatic work, mask performance and improvisation.”

The overall emphasis is on acting training with “a focus on the craft of acting,” Cole noted. “Instead of working on one role for the two weeks, students can stretch their abilities by working on a variety of texts in scene work and monologues.”

The institute will wrap up July 29 with an opportunity for participants’ families to come and watch them work. “It invariably gives parents a greater appreciation for the tremendous discipline that is essential for successful acting,” Cole explained.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Making a leap—Jillian Rosado (left) from Cardinal Spellman High School dodges a fencing move from Fallon Solari of Gorham High School at last year’s SUNY Oswego Summer Theatre Institute. Stage combat is one of many aspects of theatre and performance covered by Oswego’s annual institute, which will run from July 16 to 29 on the lakeside campus.

(Posted: May 31, 2006)