Hitting His Mark

Pace’s new Director of BA Theater Arts/Directing Ion-Cosmin Chivu shares his plans for the future of the program and the first session of the Performing Arts Masters Series on February 13, featuring three of American Theater’s most influential voices.

Ion-Cosmin Chivu started at Pace University in 2006 as an Adjunct Professor of Theater. This past fall he joined the full time faculty in the Department of Performing Arts and became the Director of the Dyson College BA Theater Arts/Directing Program on the New York City Campus. He has directed more than 50  professional and university productions in the United States, Austria, England, Germany, Greece, and Romania. This month, he discusses the upcoming Performing Arts Masters Series and his plans for the future of theater at Pace.

You’re relatively new to the University, but you’re coming on board at an exciting time for the Performing Arts program. How has the experience been for you so far?

Rewarding! The University provides me with an extremely stimulating environment and the opportunity to share my passion for teaching theater. As the newest addition to the full-time faculty in the Performing Arts Department I have a personal commitment to create a climate that nurtures and encourages students to realize their full potential. I am surrounded and deeply inspired by the finest and most supportive colleagues; together we work effectively on developing our students’ distinctive voice and perspective, training them to become first-rate performers, directors, and designers. This year is particularly exciting because we are creating four new programs that will come to fruition by the time we will be in our new home, 140 William Street. Students and teachers will benefit from new rehearsal spaces, classrooms, a TV studio, and a 100-seat theater. This is all happening this year and will undoubtedly raise Pace’s Performing Arts profile.

What can you tell us about the first installment of the Performing Arts Masters Series taking place on February 13?

The Masters Series enhances our mission to providing the new generation of students and artists with the opportunity of interacting with well-established, outstanding professionals that have developed new voices and ideas. Our inaugural session will feature three visionaries from some the most influential American theater institutions: Anne Cattaneo of the Lincoln Center Theater, Maria Goyanes of The Public Theater, and Joe Melillo from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). I will have the privilege to moderate the session and I intend to engage the evening’s guests in discussions that range from the moment that inspired their commitment to working in theater to their most intriguing work, and from the challenges of the artistic process to their unique practices that resulted in highly acclaimed productions. Also there will be a Q&A session with Pace BFA and BA Performing Arts students.

You can learn more about the event and register here.

What was the motivation for beginning the series?

Learning—accomplishments become more meaningful when articulated in front of new generations of artists. Students will benefit from being in the same room with powerful artists who have developed strong voices in various modes of theatrical expression. We also need to reinvigorate the theater’s ancient role as a public forum by focusing on the social and cultural context for the works of the American Theater of today and tomorrow.

How do you anticipate the series raising the profile of the program and the University as a whole?

Opportunities! In addition to providing curriculum enrichment by introducing our students to the exceptional work of innovative masters, our goal is to increase the presence of visiting high profile artists. They will have the opportunity to appreciate the quality of our training process and to interact with our student body, a crucial step in creating working relationships that would land jobs, assistantships, and internships. Fulfilling the next phase in our students’ emerging career by learning from the best in the business is key in becoming successful artists. Our students’ accomplishments are greatly influencing our program’s reputation and future.

What else can we expect to see from the Performing Arts program in the future?

More high-profile industry professionals. On March 26 we will have three leading Broadway theater producers. On April 23 we are bringing together several Broadway actors. In the future we also intend to dedicate our sessions to well known composers, playwrights, directors, and designers.

For more information about Ion-Cosmin Chivu and Performing Arts at Pace, please log onto www.pace.edu/performingarts.

The Bard Is Back

This fall, Pace becomes a downtown destination for all things Shakespeare with four productions at the Schimmel.

Merry Wives
Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

This fall will kick off an exciting season of Shakespeare at Pace, featuring four performances at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts from world-renowned theatre companies. First in the lineup: Romeo and Juliet, by Tony Award winning The Acting Company runs from October 22 to October 24. Then, Shakespeare’s Globe of London returns to Pace to perform The Merry Wives of Windsor October 28 to November 7. Theatre for a New Audience puts on The Merchant of Venice February 27 to March 13, starring Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham, and The Acting Company rounds out the season with Comedy of Errors April 5 to April 17.

Why Shakespeare and why Pace? According to David Watson, director of cultural events for Pace, this new fall lineup is a natural extension of the relationship that Pace has already built with Shakespeare’s Globe of London. “When Pace announced the Globe was coming back, we had the idea to build a season around it,” says Watson. Although he originally envisioned only one additional show, when renowned companies The Acting Company and Theatre for a New Audience both approached Pace looking for space to rehearse, the idea of a fully fledged festival began to take shape.

“In its current form, this could become an annual experience,” says Watson, who has hopes of the event also taking a stronger international focus, showcasing Shakespeare productions from around the globe. “Rather than one British and two American companies, it would be fun to add a show each year from another country,” says Watson, who cites a Russian production of Richard III, a South African production of Macbeth, and a Chinese production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream as just a few of the great international productions on his radar.

The festival is also the culmination of one Pace professor’s dream. Watson notes that Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Performing Arts Department, Christopher Thomas, who recently passed away, had once designed a Globe set for the Schimmel in order to give students a feel for what it would be like to experience performances on the historic stage. “The original vision for the theater was that the Schimmel would be a place for Shakespeare,” says Watson. Even the Bard might agree that after this season, “thy worldly task hast done.”

Learn more about the festival and purchase your tickets today.

More than Fun and Plays

In addition to the four plays, there are a number of unique learning opportunities built around the productions.

  • Each show will include a Talkback Session—a free event where audiences can stay and speak to cast members and artistic contributors.
  • All shows (with the exception of Romeo and Juliet) will also include “Centerpiece Lectures,” given by experts in the field such as Pace Distinguished Professor Martha Driver, PhD, (Merry Wives of Windsor) that delve into certain aspects of the play and production.
  • Pace performing arts students will be offered master classes taught by members of the cast.
  • Pace will also be hosting the Globe’s “Executive Education” for Shakespeare educators—the first program of its kind on the East Coast, which introduces 12 competitively selected high school instructors and their students to an 18-month educational program taking place on the Pace campus with summer sessions in London.

To learn more, visit: http://www.shakespeares-globe.org/globeeducation

Put Some Stock in Your Summer

From July 16-18, celebrate Broadway at the Schimmel Center, where five Pace students share the stage with some of the brightest stars in the business.

Whether you’re a Broadway veteran or a newly converted Glee fan, Summer Stock NYC’s musical revue is sure to make your heart sing. This new event was created by musical theater company and conservatory CAP21, which makes high-quality musical productions accessible to local audiences while also serving as a training ground for actors, singers, dancers, directors, choreographers, and designers. This year’s case includes five of Pace University’s musical theater students.

“One of the reasons we wanted this was the opportunity for Pace students to perform with highly professional stars,” says Director of Cultural Affairs David Watson. “This has been in the works for years.” This year’s show features a mix of modern and traditional Broadway numbers and a cast including Broadway and cabaret artist Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!, Sunset Boulevard), As the World Turns Daytime Emmy-nominated actress Colleen Zenk (Bring Back Birdie), and Kelly Felthous (National Tour of Grease).

Founded in 1994, CAP21 trains more than 400 qualified actors each year and has an alumni roster that includes some of today’s most recognizable names, such as: Lady Gaga, Anne Hathaway, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, and Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars.

Rising Pace junior and musical theater major Sarah Nathan, who is part of the ensemble cast says, “I have never created a show from the ground up. This is an eye-opening experience, as well as an educational opportunity.”

Watson hopes the Summer Stock NYC event will be the beginning of an established relationship with CAP21. “We are aiming toward a full-scale musical production of a Broadway musical that will open at Pace and go to different theaters throughout the five boroughs,” he says. “This would be a full summer of employment for the students, with five to six weeks of touring.”

While musical theatre students are no strangers to performing, it’s the professional aspect of participating in Summer Stock NYC that will help boost their resumes and provide experience.

Rebeca Radoszkowicz, also a rising junior and musical theater major has been in more than 40 professional and non-professional theatrical productions, as well as commercials, TV, voice-overs, and movies. However, exemplifying Pace’s traditional commitment to bridging the gap between theory and practice, the experience has been exciting to her as her “first professional, paying, NYC job.”

A Celebration of the Broadway Musical will play July 16 -18 at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts and July 20-23 at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.  Visit http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showcode=SUM10 to purchase tickets ranging from $12 to $30.