Marist Hosts World-Class Theater Programs Throughout Summer
Bryan Terry, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
August 21, 2023 — Before theatrical productions make it to the bright lights of New York City, they go through years of development, workshopping, and collaboration among artists and production teams. Through Marist’s unique partnership with New York Stage and Film (NYSAF), students and recent graduates participate directly in this process, working behind the scenes with world-class producers, directors, and actors who stage some of the best-known shows.
For years, NYSAF has workshopped productions that have become phenomenally successful, such as Hamilton, American Idiot!, and Hadestown. The 2023 Summer Season at Marist featured a wide variety of top-tier talent, including actor Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Boyz n the Hood, Apocalypse Now), writer-performer Joe Iconis (Tony Award nomination for Broadway musical Be More Chill), writer-producer Jason Kim (Emmy Award nomination for TV series Barry), and playwright Beth Henley (Pulitzer Prize recipient and Tony Award nomination for Crimes of the Heart).
From production management to creative development to administrative support, student workers participated in a variety of ways to help make NYSAF shows happen, gaining valuable hands-on experience in the field.
Jonathan Arkay '23, was an arts administration apprentice during the summer season. Having just earned his B.A. in English with a concentration in literature, Arkay said his experience with NYSAF provided opportunities that bolstered his degree.
“To have a company like NYSAF in our corner opens the eyes of students and introduces them to an aspect of theater that goes beyond what we learn in the classroom,” Arkay said. “I’ve been able to see new works in such an early stage of development, which offers a rare and intimate experience that is very unique.”
Fostering this type of learning experience has been part of NYSAF’s fabric from the beginning, according to Interim Artistic Director Liz Carlson.
“NYSAF was founded not only to support the development of new stories for stage and screen, but also to create an environment that centers educating the next generation of creative practitioner,” Carlson said. “By providing hands-on opportunities, our early-career employees build a strong foundation for the rest of their careers, while providing vital support for our organization. We have been so impressed by the capacity and professionalism of our Marist College teammates.”
Rhiannon Moline '25 is pursuing an English major with a concentration in theatre and a minor in music. She serves as a prime example of the seamless collaboration between students and professionals. In her role as a production management apprentice, Moline experienced complete integration within the team.
“My main responsibilities were supporting the productions in residency and helping the production manager solve any problems that arose,” Moline said. “I have learned so much already about production management and theater in general. Having experts impart their knowledge and support our program is a dream.”
At NYSAF, writers, actors, and other artists are given the space to test their ideas and develop their performances. This creates a natural environment for learning and growing as students and graduates become part of the creative and administrative teams.
The 2023 Summer Season featured more than 200 artists in various stages of their careers, according to Carlson, who referred to the company’s time in Poughkeepsie as "the great equalizer."
"Regardless of experience, every artist deserves a protective environment where they can engage an authentic process of creative discovery," she said. "Through this ethos, our staff was able to form meaningful relationships with a wide range of exceptional talent."
Recent graduate Grace Rowan '23 earned her bachelor’s degree in media studies and production with minors in theatre and music. Rowan served on the 2023 Summer Season staff as a marketing associate and will continue working for NYSAF throughout the year. She says that her experience at Marist strengthened her passion for the arts.
“I will never forget the feeling I had seeing the Nelly Goletti Theatre stage transformed for the Joe Iconis & Family concert, or when I heard the performers for the musical A Wrinkle In Time sing together for the first time,” Rowan said. “The Marist-NYSAF partnership has given me so much opportunity to experience, learn, and develop, while gaining important skills that will stick with me throughout my theater career.”
The spirit of community is a key aspect of this collaboration. Brooke Schroeder, who completed her B.A. in Media Studies and Production in '22, said she values the impact of supportive colleagues.
“The most memorable part about working with NYSAF is the community of people it brought together,” said Schroeder, who served as assistant company manager. “Everyone is so kind and we all help each other, even beyond our assigned responsibilities.”
Beyond the Summer Season, Marist's partnership with NYSAF provides professional expertise to the College's curricular programs and gives students year-round learning opportunities and apprentice positions. Find out more about this partnership here, and learn more about NYSAF at their website.