1st Stage Announces Session Two of the Virtual Classroom, with Online Courses for Adults and Children/Young Adults Beginning September 28

Arielle Seidman-Joria Art & Culture

Following the overwhelming success of the first round of courses, 1st Stage is excited to announce the launch of Session Two of its Virtual Classroom, with twelve new theater education courses taught by experts in the field. The new courses will run September 28-November 8, 2020. 

The registration deadline is September 21! Register today at www.1ststage.org

 About the Virtual Classroom

 Courses for Adults 

Celebrated local playwright and 1st Stage collaborator, Caleen Sinette Jennings (Queens Girl in the World) will be teaching “Playwriting.” This fast-paced class will introduce students to the basics of play writing: idea generation, dramatic action, character, and dialogue development. 

1st Stage Artistic Director, Alex Levy will be teaching “A Director Prepares.” This course will introduce students to the process of directing. It will focus on production, preparation, and conceptualization. It will also touch on concepts such as casting, talking to designers, and working with actors. 

1st Stage Literary Manager, Laura Esti Miller will lead “Play Reading and Discussion.” Students will read and discuss plays while learning classic and modern techniques for analyzing. 

Deidra LaWan Starnes, a performer, teacher, and 1st Stage’s Associate Artistic Director will teach “Beginning Acting.” This class will introduce students to acting techniques and developing a believable character using information provided by the playwright. 

1st Stage Casting Director and long-time vocal coach, Jane Margulies Kalbfeld will be teaching “Beginning Voice Training.” This course will introduce students to healthy singing techniques, including warm-ups and cool downs, using vocal exercises, the importance of proper vocal hygiene, and simple songs. 

Trained performer, teaching artist, and 1st Stage Director of Engagement, Heidi Fortune Picker will be teaching “Introduction to Improvisation.” This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as “Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and rediscover play. 

Heidi Fortune Picker will also be teaching “Intermediate Improvisation.” This is a continuation of Introduction to Improvisation. Students will continue to build upon skills and concepts learned in Introduction to Improv, with additional focus on creating characters and scenes quickly, making bold choices, and working together to build the story in an improv scene. 

 Courses for Children & Young Adults 

 1st Stage Artistic Director Alex Levy will teach “Beginning Improv” for middle school students (grades 7-8). This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as 

“Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and play. 

1st Stage Literary Manager, Laura Esti Miller will lead “Play Reading and Discussion” for high school students (grades 9-12). Students will read and discuss plays while learning classic and modern techniques for analyzing. 

1st Stage Associate Artistic Director Deidra LaWan Starnes will be teaching “Drama Games” for 1st and 2nd graders. This course will introduce the young student to basic acting skills through fun games, activities, and exercises. 

1st Stage Casting Director Jane Margulies Kalbfeld will be teaching “Building Your Book” for high school students (grades 9-12). This class, best suited for intermediate to advanced singers includes warmups, cooldowns, and exercises. It is geared towards intensive polishing each song, vocally, musically, and dramatically. 

1st Stage Director of Engagement Heidi Fortune Picker will be teaching “Introduction to Improv” for 3rd through 6th graders. This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as “Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and rediscover play. 

VIRTUAL CLASSROOM CALENDAR

Playwriting

Teacher: Caleen Sinette Jennings
Tuesdays, September 29- November 3, 2020
4PM to 6PM

This fast-paced class will introduce students to the basics of play writing: idea generation, dramatic action, character, and dialogue development. 

Beginning Acting

Teacher: Deidra LaWan Starnes
Thursdays, October 1- November 5, 2020
6PM – 7PM

This class will introduce students to acting techniques and developing a believable character using information provided by the playwright. 

A Director Prepares

Teacher: Alex Levy
Tuesdays, September 29 – November 3 , 2020
1PM – 2PM

This course will introduce students to the process of directing. It will focus on production, preparation, and conceptualization. It will also touch on concepts such as casting, talking to designers, and working with actors. 

Beginning Voice Training

Teacher: Jane Margulies Kalbfeld
Fridays, October 2- November 6, 2020
1PM – 3PM

This course will introduce students to healthy singing techniques, including warm-ups and cool downs, using vocal exercises, the importance of proper vocal hygiene, and simple songs 

Play Reading And Discussion

Teacher: Laura Esti Miller
Fridays, October 2 – November 6, 2020
7PM – 8PM

Read and discuss plays while learning classic and modern techniques for analyzing. 

Intermediate Improvisation

Teacher: Heidi Fortune Picker
Sundays, October 4- November 8, 2020
1PM to 2PM

This is a continuation of Introduction to Improvisation. Students will continue to build upon skills and concepts learned in Introduction to Improv, with additional focus on creating characters and scenes quickly, making bold choices, and working together to build the story in an improv scene. 

Introduction to Improvisation

Teacher: Heidi Fortune Picker
Wednesdays, September 30- November 4, 2020
5PM to 6PM

This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as “Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and rediscover play. 

Drama Games
(1st-2nd Grade)

Teacher: Deidra LaWan Starnes
Mondays, September 28- November 2, 2020
4PM – 4:45PM

This course will introduce the young student to basic acting skills through games, activities, and exercises. 

Introduction to Improvisation
(3rd-6th Grade)

Teacher: Heidi Fortune Picker
Wednesdays, September 30- November 4, 2020
4PM – 4:45PM

This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as “Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and rediscover play. 

Beginning Improv
(Middle School)

Teacher: Alex Levy
Thursdays, October 1 – November 5 , 2020
4PM – 4:45PM

This class will introduce students to basic principles of improvisation. It will focus on concepts such as “Yes, and…” and building on a story as well as activities to help students let go of their inner critic and rediscover play. 

Building Your Book
(High School)

Teacher: Jane Margulies Kalbfeld
Fridays, October 2- November 6, 2020
4PM – 6PM

This class, best suited for intermediate to advanced singers includes warmups, cooldowns, and exercises. It is geared towards intensive polishing each song, vocally, musically, and dramatically. 

Play Reading And Discussion
(High School)

Teacher: Laura Esti Miller
Saturdays, October 3 – November 7, 2020
12PM – 1PM

Read and discuss plays while learning classic and modern techniques for analyzing 


About 1st Stage

1st Stage Theatre is an award-winning professional theatre in the heart of Tysons, Virginia. The company serves as a cultural hub for the community producing first-rate theatrical productions as well as hosting professional musicians, orchestras, and visual artists, and providing educational opportunities for the community. In 2020, 1st Stage was nominated for 18 Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Play (The Brothers Size). Other awards include the American Theatre Wing National Theatre Company award, Last year, the company won 5 Helen Hayes Awards, including an Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical (Fly By Night). Additionally, 1st Stage is a member of the Catalogue for Philanthropy class of 2016-2017. In September 2016, The Wall Street Journal called 1st Stage “one of America’s most impressive smaller regional companies.” For more information, visit 1st Stage online at www.1ststage.org or follow the theater on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 

About the Instructors

Alex Levy joined 1st Stage in 2014 as the Artistic Director. Since then, the company has won several awards including the American Theatre Wing’s “National Theatre Company Grant” and was named “One of America’s most impressive smaller theater companies” by The Wall Street Journal. In 2019, 1st Stage won five Helen Hayes Awards including “Outstanding Production.” Alex’s directorial work has been seen throughout the world. His production of Lobby Hero was chosen by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best regional productions in the United States in 2016. He is a three-time nominee for the Helen Hayes Award for best director. Before moving to Virginia, Alex taught directing for undergraduates at UCLA. 

Laura Esti Miller has been the Literary Manager at 1st Stage since 2015, programming five exciting and award-winning seasons. She is a dramaturg, writer, director, and educator to students from preschool through college. She has taught at The Catholic University of America, George Mason University, Montgomery College, Northern Virginia Community College, and The University of Mary Washington, as well as in theatre programs geared towards primary and secondary students. Some favorite work in the DC area includes the better part of fourteen seasons with Forum Theatre and five seasons with The Inkwell – a company created for new play development. Laura was the Creative Development Director of the former off-Broadway company Electric Pear Productions, and has worked with The Public Theater, 

The Kennedy Center, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, among others. She has a BA from James Madison University and an MFA from Brooklyn College. 

Deidra LaWan Starnes, Associate Artistic Director at 1st Stage, is a theatrical educator, performer, director, and writer. Acting credits include, The Good Counselor and The Member of the Wedding at 1st Stage; Other acting credits include The Amen Corner, Much Ado about Nothing, Milk Like Sugar, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Invisible Man (Helen Hayes Award-Ensemble), Intimate Apparel (Helen Hayes Award-Lead Actress), A Raisin in the Sun, I Have before Me a Remarkable Document…., Two Trains Running, Spunk, Twelve Days of Christmas, Charlotte’s Web, Passing Strange, In the Red and Brown Water, Radio Golf, Doubt, Stuff Happens and for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf , directed by Ntozake Shange. Film credits include Chasing Refuge, Nocturnal Agony, and Ladder 49. Her directing credits include A Civil War Christmas and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Helen Hayes Nomination-Most Outstanding Production), for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, Street Life and The Name Game, and Soul Collector. Deidra has taught acting and/or performance-based classes at The Theatre Lab, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, University of Connecticut, Howard University, and several DC Public Schools. Additionally, she was the Elementary School Program Coordinator at Folger Shakespeare Library. She has a BA in Theatre from the University of Maryland, an MFA in Drama from the University of Connecticut, and an MA from American University in Producing Film, TV, and Video. 

Jane Margulies Kalbfeld has performed in NY, London, the DC/VA/MD region and has been teaching singing and coaching actors for 35 years, specializing in Classic Golden Age and Contemporary Musical Theatre. She studied acting with the legendary Stella Adler, received her BFA from NYU, and apprenticed in Classical Vocal Pedagogy and Bel Canto in London with Helena Shenel and Richard Alda. Jane is certified at the highest level of Somatic Voicework© The LoVetri Method from the Shenandoah University Graduate Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute.. 

As a Founding Artist and The Casting Director for 1st Stage (proud to be one of three original incorporation signatories) she is thrilled to add 1st Stage to her teaching roster! 

Heidi Fortune Picker is a professional teaching artist, arts administrator, and actor. Heidi holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts and a MA in Arts Administration from Winthrop University. Heidi has worked as a teaching artist for over 15 years, working with arts and social service agencies. Locally, Heidi serves as the Director of Engagement for 1st Stage Theatre in Tysons, VA, and works with Ford’s Theatre as a teaching artist. Heidi was a 2018-19 Fairfax county Artist-In-Residence and has worked with Fairfax County Elementary and Middle schools and Lewinsville Senior Center. 

Caleen Sinette Jennings is an actor, director, playwright, and a founding member of The Welders, a D.C. Playwrights’ Collective. Dramatic Publishing Company has published eight of her plays, and her work has appeared in seven play anthologies. She was recently commissioned by Arena Stage to write for their inaugural COVID-driven May 22, 2020 project. She was also commissioned by Roundhouse Theatre to write an episode of their COVID-driven series Homebound. In 2017, her adaptation of Darius & Twig, for the Kennedy Center did a national tour after playing at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre. From 2015-2020, her Queens Girl Trilogy plays have been commissioned and produced by Theatre J, Mosaic Theatre and Everyman Theatre. Caleen has received five nominations for outstanding new play from the Helen Hayes Awards and play writing awards from the Kennedy Center and The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. She is a Professor of Theatre, Emerita in the Department of Performing Arts at American University in Washington, D.C. where she taught for 31 years. In 2019, she received A.U.’s inaugural award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In 2003, she received the university’s Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. She has been a faculty member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute since 1994 and she was Project Manager on a 2016 NEH grant to the Folger entitled Crosstalk: 

D.C. Reflects on Identity and Difference. Jennings graduated from Bennington College with a B.A. in Drama, and received her M.F.A. in Acting from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.