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Steve's A.R.T. alumni

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Posted on April 12, 2018 |
By John Flowers



Addison Repertory Theater isn’t exclusively about acting. Far from it. It also caters to Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center students who want to make their living behind the scenes, whether it be manufacturing sets, lighting, stage management, makeup and other services essential to the theater.

A.R.T. has been able to add to its offerings as its space in the career center on Charles Avenue in Middlebury has grown.

“We used to build our sets in the building trades lab on the weekends, and because we didn’t have a theater, we toured our shows to the various high schools,” A.R.T. co-founder Steve Small explained.

It was around 1998 that A.R.T. finally secured its own theater space, in the former wood shop at the career center. It then became a true one-stop-shop for aspiring actors and theater technicians.

Small has prided himself on the fact that A.R.T. graduates who want to further their drama education — or who want to jump right into the industry — have been able to do so.

“The most difficult part of this business is getting the job,” Small said

Students are taught how to prepare their auditions and portfolios to showcase themselves to colleges, studios and theater companies. Small takes his young protégés each year to New York to do live auditions for representatives of the approximately 40 colleges who gather to select incoming students.

“We have 100-percent placement for our technicians and 100 percent for our actors since 2001 (in post-secondary education),” Small said.

“One of the most wonderful things for me is that students get back in touch with me and they tell me where they are,” Small said. “Some are embarrassed because they’re not in theater. But I’m just glad they’re happy and doing some wonderful things. I have heard that some have used the skills they’ve learned in their (non-theater) jobs, whether it’s building toys or working in a gallery.”

Jessica Bastian, for instance, is a clothing designer for Pacific Sunwear, known as PacSun, which makes hip apparel.

Others have gone on to some pretty nice jobs on stage and/or the small and big screens.

Graduate Ben Schiffer is on tour as a rigger with Cirque to Soleil. He meticulously ensures all the cables and other equipment are in place to allow the performers to “fly.”

Jake Lacy was a cast member during the final year of “The Office” sitcom on NBC-TV, and has also done some movies.

Jesse Stevens was a sound mixer for Broadway shows like “Motown: The Musical,” and is now working on the West Coast.

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