Alleyway Theatre has been paving the way when it comes to our city’s theatre district in its return to normalcy, and still there is no end in sight for this dedicated team. From a full show schedule to education classes that begin in early January and extend through the winter months, there is not a better time to get involved with Alleyway Theatre. The Education Department is taught exclusively by theatre professionals and experts in the field. These classes are open to all who are interested in expanding or learning new skills.
“We’re really excited about getting started in the new year. I hope people will come out because they’re looking for a good time, but also because they want to develop new skills and there’s no better time than a brand-new year to jump into something and try something out. If you’re looking for a place to meet new people, make friends, find other people who are interested in art and theater and culture, then coming to a class at Alleyway could be a good place to do that,” said Tracie Lane Thomason, education director at Alleyway.
Students will leave as better actors and ultimately better humans thanks to the expertise of these renowned actors and teachers who take time to hone in on important skills like communication and empathy. From Scene Study classes to Improvisation, there is a place for everyone at Alleyway. Classes begin January 9th, so waste no time in registering!
Scene Study for Actors with Dan Lendzian
January 9 – March 6, 2022
Actors will analyze circumstances, exercise their imaginations, and play actions as they explore scenes in a safe and supportive environment. Whether you’re seeking a strong foundation or looking to challenge yourself with contemporary material, this course is for you. All experience levels are welcome.
Theatre skills are life skills and I think that it can do so much for people. It allows you to express yourself, connect with people, it allows you to figure out presentation or interview skills and it allows you to meet people from different walks of life. Theatre really helps produce empathy and I think in the world right now, nothing is more important than being an empathetic person.
Dan Lendzian is currently a lecturer at SUNY Fredonia in The Department of Theatre and Dancewhere he teaches acting, directing, devising, Shakespeare, and scene study. In addition, he is trained in classical and contemporary theatre techniques in voice, movement, text and scene analysis, dialects, clown, devising, and musical theatre. Dan has mentored thousands of students across the U.S. including New York, Texas, Alaska, and Florence, Italy.
He has also written and devised dozens of original works. Most recently, as education director of Parallel 45’s YouthQuake company, he crafted a fresh parody of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, presented and created by a cast of local student performers. At the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, he created a three-week program in devising theater.
As an artist, Dan has performed in hundreds of individual shows on international, national, and regional stages with companies like The Seattle Children’s Theater, The Shakespeare Theater of NJ, Interlochen Shakespeare, and The Weathervane Repertory Theatre. As a life-long student, Dan is consistently engaged in his own continuing education. In the past 18 months alone, he has trained with Philippe Gaulier, Amanda Gronich, Rob Clare, David Bridel, Armin Shimerman, Christopher Bayes, and Patrick Page. Dan is a certified Pilates Instructor and completed his MFA at The University of Texas at Austin.
Scene Study (Invitation Only) with Tracie Lane Thomason
January 10 – March 7, 2022
This advanced scene study course with Education Director Tracie Lane Thomason will deepen the craft for participants and develop independent artists by encouraging each actor to codify their individual approach to the work. Actors will be challenged to reach for their outer limits as they continue to explore an array of techniques rooted in imaginative prowess and discover truth in size in material from classical and contemporary plays. Invitation or audition only.
In class you would work on a scene, probably from a contemporary play, and you would put that material up on its feet with a partner, where you would explore the process and rehearse that material and get feedback. You can expect to have fun doing that, but also to be asked to step outside of your comfort zone, to explore and stretch and improvise some and also to make friends. We had a lot of fun doing this class in the fall. It was a group of varied experiences, but all people who are out working in the community in one way or another, and we worked on a lot of material. I’m really looking forward to getting some of those people back into class again, and also having new faces and bodies join us so that we can get more work up on its feet and just continue to push and grow and explore.
Tracie Lane Thomason is an actor and educator based in New York. She currently serves as the Education Director at Alleyway Theatre and is on faculty at Niagara County Community College. Tracie has trained with some of the most respected acting teachers in the United States and abroad including Evan Yionoulis, Richard Feldman, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Michael Kahn, Andrew Wade, Liz Smith, Moni Yakim, Ellen Lauren, Jack Young, and Bob Krakower (on-camera).
She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance and an MFA from the Drama Division at the Juilliard School, Group 48. Tracie is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and has been seen on stages in New York City as well as in regional theaters and at Shakespeare festivals across the country.
Improv for Actors with Don Gervasi
January 11 – March 1, 2022
Jump feet first into the world of acting! Whether you’ve never set foot on a stage or you’re a professional actor working in WNY, you’ll have a blast in this hands-on improv course. Actors will sharpen their senses, think on their feet, and discover why improv skills are vital to any actor’s process through short-form games and improvisations. Culminates in an open rehearsal for friends and family. All experience levels are welcome.
I think more so now than ever with the pandemic and being forced to be away from people for 18 months, we sort of forget how to be around people. Technology is great, but nothing is a substitute for good old fashioned face-to-face communication. Which basically is what improvisational theater is — it’s about the relationship between two people, two characters really. I think that’s the nature of improvisation where people can actually have fun and learn at the same time.
Don Gervasi is a graduate of Toronto’s Second City Conservatory Program; Don has been acting and improvising for over 25 years. He can be seen in the films MARSHALL, starring Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad; and QUEEN CITY starring Vivica A. Fox and Peter Jason. He has performed on many Buffalo stages including Kavinoky Theatre, MusicalFare Theatre, Road Less Traveled Productions, and Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY. He is a proud member of three unions: IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, and AEA where he has served as Equity Liaison for the Buffalo-Rochester Area since 2010.
As an improviser, he has trained under Susan Messing, Moira Dunphy, Jerry Schaefer, and the late Frank McAnulty. He is a founding member of Buffalo’s own Eclectic Improv Company and long-form duo Babushka!, and has improvised with the likes of Jason Alexander, Phil Lamarr, Dan Castellaneta, and Catherine O’Hara. You may also recognize Don from recent AAA and Seneca Allegany Casino commercials. He also co-hosts the comedy podcast The Discount Deejays.
Teen Acting with Karen McDonald
January 12 – March 2, 2022
Explore what it means to be an actor! Exercises in concentration, imagination, relationships, and awareness form the basis of this pre-professional acting course. Students will use games, activities, and short scenes to develop their understanding of the essential building blocks of the actor’s craft. Some memorization required. All experience levels are welcome.
The biggest thing I hope students learn is that theater, done properly and beautifully, is a cooperative thing and that working together is the most fulfilling thing about creating art. I always do several exercises that bring forth cooperative action because that’s the most beautiful part about the theater –the cooperative with the audience and the people on stage.
Karen McDonald is a professional actor for over three decades, Karen has performed in major theatres across North America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. In New York: Funny Girl, Othello, Those Were The Days, and Tap Your Troubles Away. In Toronto: Fiddler on the Roof, Mame, 42nd St., Singin’ in the Rain, and Hello Dolly. Regional Theatres: Studio Arena, Alleyway, Forbes, Dominion Rep, Theatre Orangeville, Capitol Theatre, Drayton Entertainment, Red Barn Theatre, Rainbow Stage, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Stage West, Show Boat, Bristol Valley Playhouse, and STC. She has taught in performing arts schools for twenty years and has been a teaching artist in public schools in Toronto, Western New York, and the Bronx.
She has written for, as well as directed and choreographed, shows with disabled artists. Her plays have been produced in Canada and the United States, most notably her one woman show “Up In A Balloon” which premiered at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan and subsequently played at Cape May Stage and Dominion Rep. A proud member of Actor’s Equity, ACTRA, and the Dramatists Guild, Karen is the first recipient of the Senator Dale Vulcar Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Each weekly course delves into specific, repeatable techniques needed to hone the actor’s craft. Theatre training is for everyone, and whether you have never set foot on a stage or you’re at home in the spotlight, there is always something to learn. These training programs provide both practical and actionable skills which can be used by every actor at any level to continue to grow and develop as an artist. To learn more about the classes available or to sign up visit https://www.alleyway.com