Powerhouse Theater, a collaboration between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film, presents stageworks in various phases of development, from early “workshopping” to full-blown productions. This is your chance to see the creative process in action, catching dramas and musicals by heavy-hitters in the field before they hit the Great White Way.
A highlight of the Powerhouse season for theater fans who love to experience the crucible of the creative process is the two annual Readings Festivals of plays in early stages of development. This weekend, June 26 to 28, you can catch readings of Junk by Ayad Akhtar (Pulitzer-winner for Disgraced), a boy put this girl in a cage with a dog and the dog killed the girl by Clare Barron, The Dizzy Little Dance of Russell DiFinaldi by Stephen Belber, The Profane by Zayd Dohrn and 15 Minutes Book by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Peter Yanowitz. Readings Festival #2, on the weekend of July 31 to August 2, will present The Brother(s) by Colman Domingo, Open Road by Paul Scott Goodman and Joseph Hendel, Talk to Me of Love by Meghan Kennedy and White Noise, White Light by Nicky Silver.
Mainstage productions this 31st Powerhouse season include the world premiere of Poughkeepsie native Keith Bunin’s The Unbuilt City, directed by Tony nominee Sean Mathias, from July 1 to 12, in which a man working for university archive tries to persuade a woman to sell her famously secret art collection and gets more than he bargained for. The Light Years, which runs from July 23 to August 2, is a project of the multi-Obie-winning Debate Society, written by Vassar alumna Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and developed and directed by Oliver Butler. A love story spanning the 1893 and 1933 Chicago World’s Fairs, it tells the tale of a forgotten visionary theatrical impresario commissioned to design and build the 12,000-seat Spectatorium, with life-changing consequences.
There will be three Martel Musical Workshops at Powerhouse this summer: A musical adaptation by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson (both Tony nominees) of Somerset Maugham’s Rain, directed by Barry Edelstein (but with the casting for iconic temptress Sadie Thompson yet to be announced), will be performed July 10 through 12. From July 17 to 19 Powerhouse will present a musical based on the groundbreaking miscegenation case Loving V. Virginia by Marcus Gardley and Justin Ellington, developed and directed by Patricia McGregor. And July 31 to August 2 will see the unveiling of the latest project by Tony/Grammy-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening, American Psycho), in collaboration with Kyle Jarrow and directed by Obie-winner Rachel Chavkin: Noir, about a reclusive apartment-dweller who becomes obsessed with eavesdropping on his neighbors.
Inside Look workshops at Powerhouse 2015 will include Desire, six new short plays based on Tennessee Williams stories by superstar playwrights Beth Henley and John Guare, as well as Elizabeth Egloff, Marcus Gardley, Rebecca Gilman and David Grimm. Leading Williams authority Michael Wilson directs, and it runs from July 2 to 5. Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match, about a tennis confrontation between Russia and the US at the US Open, will be presented from July 17 to 19, with Gaye Taylor Upchurch directing.
Tickets cost $40 to Mainstage productions, $30 to workshops, but the Powerhouse season also includes some free offerings. Reserve your seat by phone for the Readings Festivals, or just show up for the outdoor performances of classics by the Powerhouse Apprentice Company: Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom from July 17 through 19 and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night July 10 through 12 and Much Ado about Nothing July 23 through 25.
For more information on specific performances, locations on campus, dates and times, or for tickets and reservations, call the Powerhouse box office at (845) 437-5599 or visit https://powerhouse.vassar.edu/boxoffice.
Powerhouse Theater, June 26-August 2, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie; (845) 437-5599, https://powerhouse.vassar.edu/boxoffice.