Sunday, December 7, 2014

Trial Runs Ahoy!

This past weekend, NTSA hosted trial runs of two brand-new programs: Design Launch and What Happens Next. We're always looking for more ways to get young artists involved in NTSA, and these programs open up tons of opportunities. We're going to be scheduling more events soon, so if either of these sound interesting, join our mailing list to receive updates on future workshops, readings, and sneak peeks.

Design Launch kicked off with a reading of Kendall Kaminsky's The End of Side A. Kendall, a senior at the University of Houston, wrote a captivating drama about family secrets that snatched one of our three mainstage finalist slots this season. Still reeling from their father's suicide, Daniel and Dana are tasked with packing up their familial home; however, when they find boxes of voyeuristic tape recordings detailing their neighbors' lives, they begin to question if they really knew what kind of man their father was. Three remarkably talented juniors from the Professional Performing Arts School (Amanda McCormick, Brielle Webb, and Jason Wilks) brought these complicated characters to the stage. Students then analyzed the script before hitting the craft supplies. Cutting up magazines and photographs, they created visual research collages for each character. When they were finished, all of the students were challenged to identify one element in their collage (a specific color, texture, pattern, symbol, etc.) and use that to draft a design. One of our favorite designs featured a dual-level set where all of the real-life events occurred on the first level, while the shadowy second level contained figments of the characters' pasts -- including their father watching them. At the end of the evening, we packed up all of the colored pencils, markers, pastels, and watercolors, as each student left with a rendering to add to her/his portfolio.

We've spent the past few months working on What Happens Next -- a project where audience members become co-creators through post-show discussions with the playwright, which are then reflected in subsequent performances. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to test out this idea in front of an audience of middle school students. They watched a performance of Alinah Vision's (a junior from LaGuardia Arts) Dual Acceptance, featuring Jason Wilks and Amanda McCormick, before reflecting on if characters made the right choices and what they could have done differently. Tonight, Alinah met with NTSA staff members to brainstorm how these ideas could be incorporated into script revisions. "I don't know how the main character didn't commit suicide; she was under so much pressure!" a 7th grader exclaimed during the post-show discussion. We talked about how that statement could be depicted onstage. Could we incorporate a monologue in which the main character struggles with her parents' high expectations? Could we add a flashback where we see an argument between the main character and her overbearing parents? Or do we go in a completely different direction and show why the parents behave this way? What about her father's past pushed him to attend Harvard University -- and why might he want the same for his daughter?

We can't wait for performances of What Happens Next to start in late January, and we're already scheduling new Design Launch events for set, costume, lighting, and sound designers. For more information, join our mailing list -- sign up using the form to the right of your screen. We're looking forward to seeing YOU at future NTSA events!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Starting the Expedition

"I'm going to respond to all questions with: Yes. No. Rosebud."
- Rae Binstock, author of Expedition

The Design Launch workshop scheduled for Saturday, November 29 is full and registration is now closed. Thank you so much to everyone who registered! Because of the enthusiastic response and high demand for this program, we're already working on scheduling new workshops for January-April. Be on the lookout for FREE future workshops in set, costume, lighting, and sound design.

Last Sunday, we welcomed a fantastic group of actors from Columbia University for a reading of Expedition, our 2015 summer mainstage production. Written by Rae Binstock (Columbia University '15), Expedition deals with two young men struggling to keep their relationship alive after college -- a feat that seems increasingly difficult as career paths change, social pressures mount, and the hundreds of miles between them become the least of their problems on their path to the American Dream. This intimate four-person drama will premiere in July at the Fourth Street Theatre in Manhattan. Alex Tobey (Carnegie Mellon University '15) will direct.

Thank you so much to everyone involved! If you're interested in joining the Expedition team, either as a designer or an actor, please visit our Acceptd site for more information. We'll keep you updated as we workshop Expedition in March.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thinking About a Future in Design?

This year, NTSA will be hosting Design Launch -- a series of workshops providing high school students with training and guidance from professional Broadway and off-Broadway designers. Our first workshop will be on Saturday, November 29 from 1-5 PM at A.R.T./New York's South Oxford Space (138 South Oxford Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn).

At this month's Design Launch workshop, you'll watch a reading of The End of Side A, a new drama by Kendall Kaminsky (University of Houston '14), before engaging in a roundtable discussion with Patrick Rizzotti whose work has been seen on stages at Signature Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Prospect Theatre Company, Target Margin, and Florida Repertory Theatre. (Contemporary musical theater aficionados might know him as the mastermind behind the set for Ryan Scott Oliver's Jasper in Deadland last season.) We'll close out the session with an exercise created to kickstart your theatrical design portfolio. EdTA Thespians: this session will set you up for success if you plan on presenting an Individual Event in Design this year. You can register for the event using the form below. Space is limited to fifteen students so register today!

(HINT: If you've ever wanted to work as a designer with NTSA, this is a great chance for us to meet you and get to know your artistic work. We're currently on the lookout for student designers for our winter 2015 touring production and our summer 2015 mainstage production.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014



The National Theatre for Student Artists (NTSA) is currently accepting play and musical scripts for our 2014-2015 Season. If you've ever wanted to see your work performed in a major off-Broadway theater, send us your script!


Open to all high school and college students currently enrolled in the 2014-2015 academic school year. Limited to two plays per playwright. (If you are submitting two scripts, please submit each script separately.)

We are seeking new plays that are relevant to young adults of the current generation. We are particularly interested in plays that tackle issues related to American identity, society, and culture in creative and dynamic ways. More than strict adherence to these suggested themes, we prioritize the potential for active staging of well-developed and complex characters in original comedic and dramatic situations.

Your play can be published but must not have been previously professionally produced. We are accepting all plays in electronic format only. Plays submitted after the application date may not be considered.

Winner must be available to attend rehearsals during the 2015 summer for their fully produced off-Broadway premiere. NTSA will provide transportation and housing.


Long One-Acts or Full-Length plays. Typed in standard stage play format. Submit as PDF documents only.

Include one page with your name, address, phone number, email address, and a 100-word personal bio. Additionally include the name of a teacher reference and their contact information.

Include one page with your name, name of the play, character breakdown, and a 100-word synopsis of your play.



If you have any questions regarding the submission process, please contact: Benjamin Viertel (

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Come See Jimmy!

Jimmy!: A Musical Fable with Almost No Historical Basis premiered last Friday at the Irondale Center. Producing assistant Amiko Gonzalez talks about the challenging process of taking a new musical through tech week in this blog post. Jimmy! will be running through Saturday, August 16. Make sure to book your tickets today!

After these four grueling days of tech, Jimmy!: A Musical Fable with Almost No Historical Basis is now able to be seen by many. From decorating the stage to stopping and starting scenes to make things right, all of NTSA’s cast and crew worked tirelessly to ensure that Jimmy! is a smashing hit.

Monday’s load-in was full of hours and hours of heavy lifting that made everyone’s muscles grow a little more. Over the course of the day, our set was erected by our amazing set designers and technicians. As well as duvatine being placed on the windows (a scary and somewhat dangerous job -- ladders!). The costume designers worked inexhaustibly to get all the alterations for the costumes done. While elsewhere the actors tried on the costumes to get the perfect fit.

Then came cue-to-cue, a process that was as slow as molasses, but really helped perfect the play. In order to ensure that the lighting fixtures were up and running, this process needed to happen. As we continued to stop and start the play, changes sprung up to ensure that this production was amazing. All of that hard work finally paid off. In the end, these exhausting days have all been worth it to ensure that you, the viewers, get the best experience.

Don't miss out on this time-traveling, bunny-attacking, Molotov cocktail-tossing extravaganza! Buy your tickets for Jimmy! today!