Area drama teachers and directors are invited to attend a two-day workshop, Wednesday and Thursday, July 17-18, in Petoskey.
The workshop is designed for directors, both experienced and novice, of K-12 casts, but everything taught will be applicable for those who direct adult casts, too.
Organizers predict the workshop will count for 12 state continuing education clock hours for interested teachers, pending approval from the state.
Lead facilitator, James Haffner, is a professor of opera at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music and director of the Pacific Opera Theatre in California. His production of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" took first place in the 2001 National Opera Association Production Competition and was a finalist both at the regional and national levels in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Haffner is coming to Petoskey fresh from an intensive at Kent State on the Chekhov technique for acting. He will be sharing these techniques with participants as well as various other methods for developing acting skills in young casts. He is in town this summer to direct Bay View Music Festival's production of "Big River" and has directed Bay View's previous productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Secret Garden."
The second presenter at the workshop is Valerie St. Pierre Smith, an award-winning costume designer and artisan. She has maintained her professional costume design career while working in her new capacity as Crooked Tree Art Center's program director. Prior to moving to Petoskey, St. Pierre Smith served as assistant professor of costume design and costume director at George Washington University. She will present the use of costuming as a tool for character development.
The third presenter is Nick Gisonde, professional fight choreographer who has been staging fights for theater, opera and film for 20 years. He was the fight captain to J. Steven White for the Tony Award winning revival of "A View from the Bridge" with Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney. He has been the resident fight director for the Bay View Music Festival since 2003, staging fights for "Don Giovanni," "La Boheme," "Private Lives," "Kiss Me Kate" and "The Fourposter." Gisonde has trained in many weapon styles ranging from rapier and dagger, broadsword and shield, quarterstaff, small sword and unarmed. He will teach participants basic stage combat that can be safely incorporated into local productions when needed.
This is the third drama workshop of its type offered in Northern Michigan. It developed over the years because area drama educators were willing to pool their financial resources to cover most of its costs with the balance being made up by various local organizations. Those who direct often have a passion and love for theater, but only their own stage experience to guide them rather than formal theater education.
"The workshops support that passion because the participants have a chance to 'talk theater' with each other and they also get to study with people from outside our community who know the latest tips and techniques for coaching actors and singers," said Ann Chatterson, coordinator.
The workshop has been made possible through the in-kind support of Bay View Music Festival, Char-Em Intermediate School District and North Central Michigan College and through scholarship support of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and the Little Traverse Civic Theatre.
For information about registering or scholarships, contact Chatterson at (231) 838-6457.