By Janelle Faignant
For fans of all things theater, acting and production, the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company has the answer: a series of classes that goes behind the curtain with the company’s professionals.
This winter, “Weston 101” returns. In anticipation of its 2017 summer lineup, the theater is offering a series of classes combining in-classroom discussions with live-streaming and archival video. There’s no homework, no tests, and you can take any class from the comfort of your own home.
“‘Weston 101’ was our answer to the question: How can we engage with our summer-season patrons in the off-season?” explained Piper Goodeve, Weston’s director of education and an artistic associate.
Goodeve is hosting the series, which features artists from the theater’s upcoming summer productions, including directors Michael Berresse, Malcolm Ewen, Tim Fort and Steve Stettler; actor Susan Haefner; musical director Larry Pressgrove; and choreographer Michael Raine, among others.
“Weston 101” runs Thursday evenings in January, February and March, either in person at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, or via live streaming. During each 90-minute class, participants will get an introduction to a play and the playwright(s), a live reading and listening, and informal discussions.
“Each show is researched and studied with a focus on the background of the piece, how and why it was written, who was in the original cast, what was going on historically during the time of writing and of production,” Goodeve said.
Question-and-answer sessions follow, which are tailored to each guest.
“If it is a director, some questions might be: ‘What attracts you to this play?’ ‘How do you work with actors in the rehearsal room?’ ‘What is your vision for this production’”? Goodeve said. “For an actor they might be: ‘What kind of preparation do you (do)?’ ‘Is your preparation different depending on the role?’ ‘What is your training?’ These are the types of questions I will ask, but there’s no way to say what the audience will ask!”
Last year a mix of ages participated, from high school students to retirees, and all ages in between.
“On that note, I think ‘Weston 101’ is an excellent opportunity for high school and college students who are interested in expanding their theatrical studies,” Goodeve said. “I wish it had been around when I was that age.
“I hope that those who attend ‘Weston 101’ will leave with a deeper knowledge of each piece, with a connection to the Playhouse and each other, and with the feeling that storytelling on the stage is an essential part of understanding who we are as humans,” Goodeve said. “That benefits everyone, no matter if they choose to write a play or not.”
Weston Playhouse Theatre Company presents “Weston 101” 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 19 – March 30 at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester. Registration is $20 for each session, $100 for all six. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to www.westonplayhouse.org.