For the past 32 years, the West Kortright Centre’s Young People’s Theater Arts Workshops have been a popular summer resource for local teenagers, as well as a destination for students from other states and countries. Registration is open for aspiring actors, musicians, costume designers, and techies to participate in a variety of theater workshops. Need-based scholarships are available; pre-registration is required. For more information, visit westkc.org or call (607) 278-5454. The West Kortright Centre is located midway between Oneonta, Delhi, and Stamford. Car-pooling is encouraged and facilitated.
The four-week Shakespeare workshop runs Mondays–Fridays, July 8–August 2, 1–5PM. This intensive ensemble acting class for students ages 13–19 culminates in two fully staged performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, performed at the West Kortright Centre’s annual Shakespeare in the Valley event on August 2nd & 3rd. The cost is $470 ($420 for WKC members).
One of many alumni of the Young People’s Theater Arts Workshops who have gone on to pursue a career in theater and/or film, Lillian Meredith is back for a fourth year as the Shakespeare workshop instructor and director. A New York City-based theater artist focused primarily on developing site-responsive plays, Lillian’s recent credits include Soho Rep, Ars Nova, Culture Project, Dixon Place, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, UglyRhino, The Secret Theatre, Galapagos Art Space, and The FURY Factory Festival of Ensemble Theater. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director of The Motor Company (Communal Spaces and Intimate Bar Plays) and a founding member of The Living Room. Lillian is also a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and the inaugural Clubbed Thumb Director’s Fellowship, as well as an alumna of Vassar College, National Theater Institute, and the West Kortright Centre.
Lillian Meredith is also teaching a new three-day Acting Skills workshop for teens on Monday–Wednesday, July 1–3, from 1–4PM. Participants will explore a variety of acting techniques including improv, viewpoints, and text analysis. This class compliments the Shakespeare workshop, or can be taken by itself. $100/$75 WKC Member.
This year, WKC Shakespeare musical director Stephen Bennett is offering a new four-week workshop–aptly named Music for Shakespeare– on Mondays–Fridays, July 8–August 2, with a variable weekly schedule. This 4-week workshop is open to singers and musicians, ages 12–19. Players will be responsible for bringing their own instruments and should have at least a basic proficiency with them. The workshop will form the band for Shakespeare in the Valley’s production of Macbeth on August 2nd & 3rd, and will play and sing the score for the show. During the workshop, participants will be guided through the basics of performance in a theatrical setting, as well as writing music for the theater. The group will write at least one of the songs in the show, and each participant will be guided through writing their own standard-style song. $350/$300 WKC Member (schedule allows for joint enrollment with WKC Shakespeare acting workshop at a discount).
Stephen Bennett has been writing music for theater for nine years, beginning while he was still training and working as an actor. In 2013, he produced a musical take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, called What You Will. He has written music for works including Highly Impractical Theatre’s Three Sisters, Linked Dance Theatre’s Freaks Don’t Cry, several productions with This is Not a Theatre Company, as well as Dominic Finocchiaro’s brut. He has composed and music directed for the West Kortright Centre’s Shakespeare in the Valley program since 2017. Stephen is currently earning a master’s degree at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
The Art of Comedy with Hana Roth Seavy is another new workshop offered this year. Held on Wednesday 7/10, Thursday 7/11, & Wednesday 7/17, from 10:30AM–12:30PM, this interactive experience explores the history and many facets of comedy. Students will practice improv, slapstick, physical comedy & more from a musical comedy writer and graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. For ages 12–19 (some acting experience preferred); $75/$50 WKC Member.
The two-week Costume Design workshop participants (ages 12-19) are involved in all phases of costuming—design, production, and backstage dressing for the entire cast of Macbeth on August 2nd & 3rd. The workshop runs Mondays–Fridays, July 22–August 2, 1–5PM, and costs $230 ($200 for WKC members). This year, the West Kortright Centre is thrilled to welcome celebrated designer Gary Graham to the Young People’s Theater Arts team.
The arts have figured prominently in Gary Graham’s trajectory as a designer. With a background in costume design, Graham has been active in many theatrical projects. In 1997, he designed textiles and assisted Julie Taymor on the costumes for the much acclaimed The Lion King. Graham also worked with costume designer Jacqueline West on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The prominent composer Meredith Monk wears Graham exclusively and continues to collaborate with him. In 2008, his quilted coat was included in the Phoenix Art Museum’s 2009 Medalism: Fashion’s Romance with the Middle Ages. In 2014, Graham participated in the American Folk Art Museum’s “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art.” His custom-made jacquard ensemble was featured on Vogue.com.
After twenty years in New York City, Graham’s atelier has relocated to Franklin, NY as GaryGraham422. GaryGraham422 is a site-specific project that allows space, history, and community to determine textile production and intimate collections. Each small run will center on narratives that combine real stories with fictional characters to blur distinctions between past, present, and future in mysterious ways. All garments will be made on-site and in the United States, using vintage and antique textiles as well as jacquards and wovens from domestic mills.
Behind the Scenes: Technical Theater students (ages 12-19) will design and build the set and props, as well as run the lighting and sound equipment for the Shakespeare in the Valley performances on August 2nd & 3rd. This year’s workshop will be co-instructed by Tony Aukstikalnis and Tom Meredith on Tuesdays–Fridays, July 23–August 2, 11AM–3PM. $210 ($180 for WKC members).
Tom Meredith is excited to return to the Young People’s Theater Arts Workshop program, where he worked on the tech crew for 4 years and served as assistant to the master himself, Bob Briggs. He is a designer from NYC, and an alumnus of Skidmore College.
Tony Aukstikalnis joined the Young People’s Theater Arts Workshops team in 2015. He has been designing and constructing sets for television, film, and theater for over 27 years and has designed and run lights for numerous live productions.
The 2019 Young People’s Theater Arts Workshops and Shakespeare in the Valley events are sponsored by NYCM Insurance, Clark Companies, and OneGroup/Gordon B. Roberts Agency, with the support of the Robert B. and Addie P. Thomson Trust and Anna L. Mabey Foundation.