There are several divisions to the program, and practically every inch of available performance space is utilized by the Powerhouse Theater productions. On the main stage, in the 145-seat Powerhouse Theater, Eric Bogosian will debut his new play 1+1, with performances from July 1 to 13. Bogosian's play is recommended for adult audiences.
From July 23 to August 3, Finks will have its first performances. Based on the experiences of his parents, comedic actor Jack Gilford and actress/activist Madeline Gilford, Joe Gilford has written a play about love, loyalties and life in the era of the McCarthy Red Scare. "I think there's a whole generation that's not as aware of that history as you or I might be," said Pfaelzer. "It's great to be able to bring this information to the fore - almost a background for this true love story. In any election year, it's important to be reminded of your political history."
The 325-seat Martel Theater, in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, will be the site of the Martel Musicals: two concert readings of brand-new musicals. Nero, by the creators of Spring Awakening, Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, is a black comic tale of the late Roman emperor. Notes to MariAnne by David Rossmer and Dan Lipton is about the separation and reunion of a brother and sister. Nero runs from July 11 to 13, and notes to MariAnne from July 18 to 20.
The Inside Look series performances are in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater. The History of Me is bound to fill the 125 seats quickly. This one-man show relates the highs and lows of the life of comedy writer Alan Zweibel, one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live. Zweibel's new piece runs July 18 to 20. Horsedreams by Dael Orlandersmith deals with the inner life of an abused 10-year-old, and will be performed July 25 to 27. Stephen Belber's Faultlines, a humorous saga about a man's midlife crisis, will be performed only twice, on August 2 and 3.
In addition to all that, two reading festivals are scheduled this summer. These are free to the public; although, due to space constraints, reservations are strongly recommended. Festival One, from June 27 to 29, includes Above the Fold by Bernard Weinraub, Beast by Michael Weller, Moving On by Anton Dudley, O.P.C. by Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler and Whisper from the Book of Etiquette by Claire Chafee. Festival Two includes Enough by Deborah Haggis, Knowing Cairo by Andrea Stolowitz, Little Black Dress by Ronan Noone, Mean Time by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros and Veronica by Oscar-winner John Patrick Shanley.
The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will perform abbreviated versions of two classic plays in the Outdoor Amphitheater, also at no charge. These plays begin at 6:30 p.m., weather permitting. Bertoldt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan runs July 11 to 14, and Bill Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs July 18 to 21.
The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will also present "soundpainting" performances at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. "Soundpainting," according to the literature, "is a live composing sign language created in the 1970s by Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets and visual artists." The composer actually gestures to the performers using these special signs to indicate what they should be doing during the show. These shows also begin at 6 p.m.
Ticket prices vary for the paid performances, and on the whole, season subscriptions are quite affordable. Individual tickets for Mainstage Productions are $35; Martel Musicals are $25; Inside Look performances are $20. For reservations and tickets, call the box office at (845) 437-7235, or go online to http://powerhouse.vassar.edu. As Pfaelzer reminds us, "It's a real privilege to get to be a part of the writer's process."