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Vassar and New York Stage and Film's 2008 Powerhouse Theater season will debut new plays and a new musical. June 27 - August 3, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — A combined Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, two Pulitzer finalists, the team whose musical just about swept the 2007 Tonys, the creator of the iconic Vagina Monologues, and an award-winning comedy writer will all debut new theater works this summer on the Vassar College campus.

New plays by Eric Bogosian, Eve Ensler, John Patrick Shanley, and Dael Orlandersmith, a new musical from the Spring Awakening team of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, and a one-man show by comedy writer Alan Zweibel will be among the 20 works featured in the 2008 Powerhouse Season, to be presented June 27 – August 3 by Vassar and New York Stage and Film. Subscription sales for the season begin May 21 through the Powerhouse website, and beginning June 4 both subscriptions and tickets for individual shows may be purchased online or from the Powerhouse box office.

Powerhouse is one of the nation’s leading programs dedicated to the development of new work for theater and film, and its 24th season will also include plays by Joe Gilford, Michael Weller, and Stephen Belber, as well as a new musical by David Rossmer and Dan Lipton.

Artists contributing to the 2008 Powerhouse season have received some of theater’s highest accolades:

  • Spring Awakening won co-creators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater the 2007 Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as seven other Tonys, including Best Score and Best Book
  • Eric Bogosian won Drama Desk and Obie awards for his play Talk Radio, and both he and Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman) have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.
  • Eve Ensler is the Obie-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 45 languages and performed in over 120 countries.
  • Alan Zweibel collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award-winning one-man show 700 Sundays.
  • John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Drama, and had its first public reading in the 2004 Powerhouse season.

[Complete bios on Powerhouse artists are available upon request.]

At the Powerhouse’s “Mainstage” productions, “Martel Musicals” concert readings, “Inside Look” workshop presentations of plays with partial production values, and its weekend-long readings festivals, audiences are usually the first to see a new play or musical performed, often before it goes on to a larger stage -on or off Broadway, or in theaters across the country. In addition to John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, Powerhouse audiences have been the first to see such Tony Award-winning plays as Tru by Jay Presson Allen, and Side Man by Warren Leight, as well as new plays by such notable writers as Richard Greenberg, Theresa Rebeck, Steve Martin and Jon Robin Baitz.

Once again the season will also offer free performances by the Powerhouse Apprentice Company – including two classic plays performed at Vassar’s magnificent Outdoor Amphitheater, and a series of unique “soundpainting” performances inspired by art on exhibit at the college’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.

Mainstage Productions

(Held in the 145-seat Powerhouse Theater, 12 performances, $35)


By Eric Bogosian
Directed by Mark Brokaw
July 1 – July 13

This world premiere explores a young woman’s quest for fame in Los Angles and the unexpected turn her journey takes. How far can you go to get what you want? Are you responsible for other people’s actions? When do you stop being good?

NOTE: this play is recommended for mature audiences only since it contains strong language and adult situations


By Joe Gilford
Directed by Charlie Stratton
July 23-August 3

In the summer of 1952, a stand-up comic on the verge of a big TV breakthrough and an actress/activist fall in love. But the House Committee on Un-American Activities is about to present the terrible choice that tests not only their love, but the friendships, loyalties, and convictions of a generation. Based on events from the lives of the author’s parents, Jack and Madeline Gilford.

Martel Musicals

(Concert readings held in the 325-seat Martel Theater, in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, 3 performances, $25)


Script and lyrics by Steven Sater
Music by Duncan Sheik
Directed by Daniel Kramer
July 11-13

A black comic tale of the bad-body Emperor who fiddles as all faith in his country burns.

notes to MariAnne

Book, music, and lyrics by David Rossmer and Dan Lipton
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish
July 18-20

A modern musical fairytale about a brother and sister torn apart by their dark past, and reunited by undying love. A haunting tapestry of hope and loss woven together by an emotionally rich book and a gorgeous popular score.

Inside Look! series

(Held in the 125-seat Susan Stein Shiva Theater, 4 performances, $20)

The History of Me

By Alan Zweibel
Directed by Charlie Stratton
July 18-20

Television comedy writer, playwright, and Thurber Prize-winning novelist Alan Zweibel traces his career, from apprenticeship as a seller of $7 jokes to Catskills comedians, through his years as a member of the original Saturday Night Live team, including his wildly popular collaboration with his friend Gilda Radner, and the ensuing adventures of his professional and personal life, in this hilarious and moving one-man show.


By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Gordon Edelstein
July 25-27

A story of addiction that crosses class, race, and gender lines to find a 10-year-old child who must invent an adult within in order to confront the devastation that surrounds him.

Fault Lines

By Stephen Belber
August 2-3
(**NOTE: Fault Lines will be held in the Martel Theater of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, for two performances only.)

Tequila. Whole Foods. Culpability. Prostates? The tortured integrity of reaching 40, and what it means for men to be friends.

Readings Festivals

(Held in the 125-seat Susan Stein Shiva Theater, free to the public with reservations strongly recommended)

Readings Festival 1

June 27 – 29

  • Above the Fold by Bernard Weinraub
  • Beast by Michael Weller
  • Moving On by Anton Dudley
  • O.P.C. by Eve Ensler
  • Whisper from the Book of Etiquette by Claire Chafee
Readings Festival 2

August 1-3

  • Enough by Deborah Rennard
  • Knowing Cairo by Andrea Stolowitz
  • Little Black Dress by Ronan Noone
  • Mean Time by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros
  • Veronica by John Patrick Shanley

Powerhouse Apprentice Company Performances

Apprentice Performances at Vassar’s Outdoor Amphitheater

The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will perform abbreviated versions of classic plays at the Outdoor Amphitheater on the Vassar campus. All four performances of each work are free and begin at 6:30pm, weather permitting.

The Good Woman of Setzuan

by Bertolt Brecht
Adapted and directed by Tomi Tsunoda
July 11-July 14

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Anthony Luciano
July 18-July 21

Apprentice Performances at Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

On three consecutive Thursday evenings, as part of the weekly “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb” series, the Powerhouse Apprentice Company will present innovative “soundpainting” performances, in the Main Galleries of the college’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. “Soundpainting” is a live composing sign language created in the 1970s by Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists. In this innovative, spontaneous type of performance, the composer/conductor utilizes more than 750 gestures to indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers.

Profile Pictures

Directed and soundpainted by Mark Lindberg
July 17, 24, 31

Profile Pictures is inspired by the art center’s concurrent exhibition Facebook: Images of People in Photographs from the Permanent Collection, as well as by other artwork on exhibit.

Subscription, Schedule, and Box Office Information

Online sales at begin May 21, strictly for season subscriptions. Beginning June 4, subscription and single tickets may be purchased either online, by calling the Powerhouse box office on campus at (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or in person at the box office.

About Powerhouse

The Powerhouse program is the result of a unique partnership between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists.

Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.

About New York Stage and Film

Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer and Leslie Urdang, and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer, New York Stage and Film is a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development and production of new works for theater and film.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, May 15, 2008