Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Dear friends,

In a letter from the studio dated May 31, 2020 with the subject line “In Solidarity and Community”, we made a promise “not to rest until we multiply our energies to utilize theater and education to combat systemic racism.” We wrote that with full recognition that it will take work, lots of work. We are ready to do that work.

To this end we are proud to announce the engagement of Anita Dashiell-Sparks as Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Stella Adler Center for the Arts. This appointment will begin immediately.

I met Ms. Dashiell-Sparks back in 2010 when we were building the Art of Acting Studio (AOA) in Los Angeles. J. Steven White, who taught Anita at New York University’s Graduate Acting program, introduced us when I asked him for recommendations for the best teachers in Los Angeles. Anita is indeed the best.

Anita is the best not only because she’s a compelling, dynamic, charismatic teacher and director, which she absolutely is. What makes her so wonderful is her gigantic heart and her rich, ever-expanding mind. It is her heart and mind, her curiosity, her deep engagement with life, with ideas, with theater as a vehicle for art and justice, that captivated me and made me wish to collaborate with her. She emanates the mission of the Studio, was and is a living, breathing example of a person whose growth as an artist is at one with her growth as a person.

But life steered Anita in another direction to the University of Southern California where she serves as Associate Professor of Theater Practice in Acting and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

And yet we stayed in touch throughout the years. We met last spring in LA to discuss the possibility of Anita teaching movement at AOA. Three hours later we had a plan of how Anita could contribute and share her experience as an artist, educator, EDI practitioner, and community outreach advocate to enrich the center’s  community. Anita will indeed become an Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a post that will involve engagement on both coasts and work with students, faculty and staff.

In the weeks ahead of us, Ms. Dashiell-Sparks and the administration of both the Stella Adler Studio and the Art of Acting Studio will meet. Anita will help us map out a robust program that focuses on theater and racial justice and I’m eager to take this journey too. We will reach back out to the community with a specific plan and look forward to engaging all staff, faculty and students in this work.

Twenty five years ago when I became the Artistic Director of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting I relinquished dogmatism with a question: “what does it mean to be the Stella Adler Adler Studio today”? It’s a question I ask myself everyday. I asked this question on May 25, 2020. I ask this question with a prayer. I ask this question as a prayer. I pray for the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to be forever dynamic, radically new and ever self-renewing and always to serve humanity…

I am so pleased to welcome Anita Dashiell-Sparks in her new position and I look forward to introducing her to you.

Most sincerely,

Tom

Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director

Posted in News

In Solidarity and Community

“We must pass a better world on to the next generation. The time has come to stand together. The time for justice is now.” Dr. Indira Etwaroo

The time for justice is now. We agree! The Stella Adler Studio of Acting stands in solidarity with all who cry out for justice. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more weigh heavily on us. We call for justice and stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who do. And yet we acknowledge that there are those in our community for whom these most recent traumas feel deeply personal. We think especially of our Black community members to say we are sorry for your extraordinary pain and we are here to offer the studio as a tool to respond and to heal.
 
The studio is devoted to serving its mission, based on the insight that growth as an actor and growth as a human being are synonymous, to create an environment that nurtures theater artists and audiences so that they value humanity, their own and others, as their first and most precious priority, while bringing art and education to the community. In serving this mission we have been animated by exuberant hope and a deep belief that theater at its core is an act of radical love. Year after year we have followed our passion for theater and education as a practice of justice and love. One example of this is the Stella Adler Outreach Division, which was recently re-named the Arts/Justice Division to more accurately reflect its work. We plan to rededicate ourselves to this work.
 
And yet the murder of George Floyd shakes us to our core and pushes us to the brink of our own capacity to believe. We find we must fight despair from within as we witness this atrocity. We are committed to confronting what is undeniably and irrevocably systemic racism upon which our country was founded. The studio is committed to being an anti-racist organization and in using the art form of theater toward justice.
 
We recently received an email from a student who asked for help. He asked us to reach out to our Black students, he called them our Black artists, and offer a message of solidarity from their artistic home. Little did he know that his cry for help was helping us, bringing us back from the brink to our mission. To him, to all our Black and POC students, to our faculty and staff of color, to our partners at the Billie Holiday Theater, we stand in solidarity with you. We promise that we won’t rest until we multiply our energies to utilize theater and education to combat systemic racism.

To make this promise actionable and doable we have made a donation to our partners at the Billie Holiday Theater, our founding partner for the Black Arts Institute and the theater home to the largest African American community in the nation. In the words of the Billie’s leader Dr. Indira Etwaroo“The time has come to stand together. The time for justice is now.” 

In solidarity,

Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director
Stella Adler Studio of Acting New York
Art of Acting Studio 
|
 Los Angeles

 

Posted in News

Studio Moves Summer Courses Online

COVID-19 Update: The Studio is mission driven to provide an environment that values humanity above all else. In these pandemic times, that means taking the best of advice of local authorities toward community health and safety. New York City continues to shelter-in and the studio has decided to move all summer programs to Zoom. Online summer programs allow us to offer actors a chance to train with world-class faculty while observing important social distancing measures.

Courses that are now offered online can be taken no matter where you are in the world. Here is a list of courses now being offered online:

  1. Online Summer Conservatory
  2. Online Musical Theater Intensive
  3. Black Arts Institute: 25in25 Virtual Intensive
  4. Online Chekhov Intensive
  5. Online Self-Generated Theater Intensive
  6. Online Teen Summer Conservatory
  7. New Works Performance Intensive (Teens)

In addition to these courses there are additional workshops and short-term classes available which can be reviewed at https://stellaadler.com/classes/online-classes/.

Posted in News

Studio Launches 2020 Graduation Challenge

New York, NY: The Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s Outreach Division announces the launch of The 2020 Graduation Challenge, a suite of free online and virtual resources to support high schools administrators, teachers, and students wishing to create online graduation ceremonies this June that are both imaginative and meaningful. 

The project was organized in late April in response to pandemic-related school closures across the region, upending plans everywhere for traditional commencement celebrations. The initiative is being supported by the David Rockefeller Fund and is being undertaken in partnership with renowned cultural institutions, The New Victory Theater and Ping Chong + Company. The goal of the project is to make materials available to every high school senior in New York City and across the country that will help to mark and celebrate their high school graduation — one of the most significant rites of passage of their lives. 

Said the studio’s Artistic Director, Tom Oppenheim, “I’m so delighted to have the opportunity to apply the ancient wisdom of theater to this current day crisis by offering high school students a way to meaningfully cross the threshold into the next chapter of their lives.”

The 2020 Graduation Challenge consists of a free, 40-page online guidebook that can be downloaded from the studio’s website. Each section is aimed at a different constituency. For school leaders there are detailed project plans for several models of an online graduation. For classroom teachers, there are three weeklong lesson plans related to graduation and rites of passage, each one created by one of the partner organizations. For students and families, there are additional exercises and reflective activities which aim to help students reengage with the significance of their accomplishments and of their journey, rather than feeling a victim of the moment. Short videos by skilled teaching artists supplement the written plans, and walk teachers and students through the lessons in fun and engaging ways. 

Dr. Kevin Bott, Director of the Arts Justice Division at the Stella Adler Studio, came up with the idea for the project after Ritual4Return — the rites of passage program he leads for formerly incarcerated individuals at the studio — was shut down in March when pandemic closures impacted the region. 

“Rites of passage are among the oldest tools of human culture,” said Dr. Bott. “They’re what we invented, in virtually every civilization, to help us navigate the major transitions of life. It’s terribly important, as a society, that we engage in helping the Class of 2020 bring a sense of closure to this formative stage of their lives. Without it, many are likely to feel unsure about how to move forward into their futures.”

In addition to the online toolkit, the Stella Adler Studio is offering weekly webinars through June 30, and private consultation for any member of a school community who feels they need more specific support.  

Students, teachers, or school staff who would like more project information, can contact Kevin Bott at kevin@stellaadler.com

Website: https://stellaadler.com/outreach/graduation-challenge/

Posted in News

NYU Tisch Class of 2020 Graduation Video Project

On Saturday, May 16th, 2020, the studio celebrated the graduation our NYU Tisch Class of 2020 BFA actors. As part of the ceremony, the graduates worked on a video project reflecting on their journey at the studio and to connect more deeply to this significant rite of passage in their lives.

Devised and performed by: Elisabeth Ligonnet Lam, Sasha Chasen, Emma Rose Mueller, Raina Silver, Haley Lambert , Amanda Miserocchi , Gaby Heckler, Nancy Howe Kimball, Maddie Jewell, Jackie Bonsignore , Addie Guidry, Ollie Philips, Meg Hrinkevich, Kiana Teka Lum, Zack Palomo, Isabella Gomez Giron , Krishna Hoi Shui Doodnauth, Rachael Chau, Mylon Joseph Cox, Andy Garza, Kelsey Bentz, Gabriel Borges, Evan P. Gilmore, and Emma Ohlig.
Kevin Bott, Guidance
Isabella Gomez Giron, Virtual Stage Manager
Emma Mueller, Sasha Chasen and Raina Silver, Editors
#stellaadler #2020gradchallenge

Posted in News

VIDEO: Words of Hope and Resiliency

Dear friends,

Over these past weeks I keep returning to Harold Clurman’s words from his book The Fervent Years. An extraordinary group of actors and artists – including Joanna Gleason, Donna Murphy, Kate Mulgrew, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Danny Glover, Stephen Adly Guirgis – have come together to speak these words and I want to share the video with you.

It’s amazing that these words, written by Harold Clurman in 1945, looking back to the winter of 1932-33, speak so vividly and with such relevance to our own troubled times. It’s equally amazing that Harold Clurman looked out at a world in 1929 of economic ruin, with millions of Americans out of work, and thought “this is the perfect time to build a theater company!”

We dedicate this video to the medical workers for whom we cheer every night at 7pm, who save lives while providing us all with an example of how to live a life and how to make art. May our theaters soon be filled with such life giving, life affirming work! We also dedicate it to all essential workers, the backbone of our country.

Finally I hope this video stimulates and inspires young people, by virtue of Harold’s words and the voices and example of the work and lives of the participating artists, to search, as the members of the Group Theater did way back when, for reasons to be! and ways to give!

We stand in solidarity with the heroic health care workers and essential workers and with each and every one of you.

Sincerely,

Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director

SOUL SUSTENANCE

“The strength I drew from this period of apparently aimless ambling through the dark of depressed areas in place and spirit was crystalized for me one day when I was struck as if by a miracle of conversion with the feeling that no matter how bitter things became for me, personally, professionally, economically I would never allow myself to be destroyed from within; it would never get me down; I would sustain all kinds of disappointment and distress without ceasing to believe, to hope, to love. I would never yield to the temptation of pessimism, to the ease of despair or withdrawal. It was as if I took an inner vow

never to allow, gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowing of the spirit.

I believed, as some ancient had said: ‘it is not within thy power to to finish the task, nor is it thy liberty to abandon it.’ From this inexorable maxim I drew an abiding joy. In this sense I swore fealty to myself.

Thus that historically cruel winter of 1932-33, which chilled so many of us like a world’s end, became for me a time of renewed faith, because I seemed to be withstanding a sort of test.”

HAROLD CLURMAN, The Fervent Years

Posted in News, Toms blog

Studio Launches In-Progress Programs via Remote Video Platforms; Announces Summer Program Start Date July 6

New York, NY: On Monday the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and its West coast branch the Art of Acting studio launched in-progress conservatory programs via remote video learning software. Studio leadership spent the last week training faculty on remote video platforms. The studio also announced that its summer programs will begin on July 6, 2020.

Said Artistic Director Tom Oppenheim, “Despite the challenges all around us, I am deeply encouraged about the meaningful work that faculty and students are engaged in via video instruction. I’m further encouraged when I reckon what it means to be an actor, a theater artist. I also draw inspiration from our ancestors, and most especially from Harold Clurman. Right now artists are confronted with the limitations of a global pandemic, but they still have something to say. At this moment video conferencing is the window, the doorway, the corridor through which theater artists and students can make their art.”

The studio also announced plans for summer programs to begin on Monday, July 6, 2020. Summer programs were previously scheduled to begin on June 1. The delayed start date is offered in an effort to offer actors a chance to pursue their summer training plans while observing the important social distancing measures advised by the authorities. Details are available on the studio’s website. Visit https://stellaadler.com/classes/summer/ for New York programs. Visit https://www.artofactingstudio.com/classes/summer-programs/ for Los Angeles programs.

The Summer Conservatory, previously a 10-week, 22 hour per week program starting on June 1, will now be a 6 Week program, with 32 hour per week total hours, running from July 6 – August 14, 2020. The total class hours under the revised model will be 192 (previously 220), and therefore the tuition will be adjusted to $3300 (from $3800). Details follow.

Summer Conservatory
Dates: July 6 – August 14, 2020
Tuition: $3300

6 weeks, 32 hours per week
Weekly classes/hours per class:
Scene Study, 6 hours
Acting Technique, 6 hours
Improvisation, 2 hours
Voice and Speech, 4 hours
Movement Techniques, 3 hours
Shakespeare, 3 hours
Ensemble, 3 hours
Acting for Film and Television, 4 hours
Practicum, 1 hour

Here are other changes being made to the summer programming:
1. The Chekhov Intensive, Black Arts Intensive, Film & Television Acting Intensive and all summer Teen Programs will continue as scheduled, to begin July 6.
2. The Musical Theater Intensive will be delayed until July 6th and will run through August 14th, 2020.
3. The Self-Generated Theater Intensive will be delayed until July 6th and will run through August 7th, 2020.
4. The Shakespeare Intensive has been postponed until the summer of 2021. It will not be conducted in 2020.

Posted in News

UPDATE: On-site Activities Suspended at Stella Adler Center

Out of an abundance of caution the Stella Adler Center is joining a number of New York City cultural institutions in a temporary suspension of programming while the authorities work to contain the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19. Classes slated for Thursday, March 12-Sunday, March 15 are cancelled and the facility will be closed. The week of March 16-22 is Spring Break and the facility will not be open to the public. In this interim period, staff is working diligently to transition classes to a temporary online video platform. The week of March 23-27 classes and rehearsals will be given via online video platform. After that we will make decisions based on the council of authorities. Please check here for the latest updates or contact us at classes@stellaadler.com.
Posted in News

Staying Healthy at the Stella Adler Center

Dear Community Members,

The studio takes everyone’s health seriously. We wanted to reach out now with respect to the Coronavirus. While chances of getting the virus are low, we believe that keeping informed and taking precautions are a good idea right now.

KEEPING INFORMED

If you are seeking more information, here are three sources:

CDC guidelines on prevention:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html  

New York City Department of Health:
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/coronavirus.page 

World Health Organization:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 

TAKING PRECAUTIONS

The CDC provides thorough guidelines, some of which are included here:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

I want to emphasize hand washing with some frequency. As an additional measure, the studio will provide more hand sanitizer throughout the facility.  We will also clean high touch surfaces like doorknobs and faucet handles with special care and increased frequency.

If the need to communicate further on this arises, we will be in touch. In the meantime, please stay calm and take care.

Tom   

Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director

Posted in News

Rachel Eliza Griffiths Named New Poet in Residence

The Stella Adler Studio of Acting and the Harold Clurman Poetry Reading Series are pleased to announce that Rachel Eliza Griffiths will be the 2020 poet-in-residence. This year marks the sixth year of the program. Rachel Eliza Griffiths will join past residents Sonia Sanchez, Yusef Komunyakaa, Idra Novey, Gregory Pardlo and Grace Schulman in a public reading on Monday, March 9, 2020. More details coming soon!

Posted in News

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