Since it’s beginning in 1972, NST has made the Performing Arts School the cornerstone of its mission. NST Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Bill Raiten, recipient of the Maine Arts Commission’s first Lifetime Achievement Award, has given lessons to over one-thousand students of all ages in this country and abroad. NST students have been seen on the stage, in commercials, movies and television shows in America, Canada and Russia. Most of Bill's students have not gone into the acting profession but have applied the knowledge that they gained about themselves and their peers while studying with Bill, into joyous, diverse careers from carpenters to teachers.

In keeping with the NST mission, the Performing Arts School teaches actors, directors, and stage crew the importance of achieving effective emotional communication between the playwright’s characters and audience members, resulting in unusually high quality theater. The Acting as Truth Class guides students to their innate talent and teaches that all of us are different - as we should be! Our differences are what makes us each the fantastic people - and actors - that we are.

In keeping with his Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his “substantial contributions ... that exemplify a long-term commitment to the arts”, Bill Raiten continues to work closely with some of his former students who can continue his legacy of quality theater education. Accomplished actor, Bryan Lescord, works with the Acting is Truth classes for all ages and experience levels. Bec Poole, who started as a student of Bill’s in 1973 and is an accomplished director, works with the Scene Study classes.

winter Semester, 2019

The New Surry Theatre’s Performing Arts School, now in its 47th year, offers numerous classes in performing arts. Each of these classes is open to inexperienced and experienced adult students from thirteen years of age to octogenarians. The ninth and last class of the semester will be “Open House Performances” for the community, bringing all of the classes together.

The Winter 2019 semester begins the week of January 7. Tuition is $300 for the first course and $200 for each additional course taken. Need-based scholarships are available. To register for classes or to ask any questions, please contact Performing Arts School Administrator and Instructor, Bill Raiten at bill@newsurrytheatre.org

Winter 2019 Class Schedule

Mondays, 6:30 - 8:30 - Singing for the Stage with Lori Sitzabee

Tuesdays, 6:30 - 8:30 - Acting as Truth with Bill Raiten and Bryan Lescord

Wednesdays, 6:30 - 8:30 - The Art of Theater Makeup with Elena Bourakovsky

Wednesdays 6:30 - 8:30 - Scene Study with Bill Raiten and Bec Poole

Playwriting with Bill Raiten - Time and place to be determined with each individual student

Class Descriptions

Singing for the Stage

In this upbeat and energetic class, students will explore a variety of musical theater numbers while learning techniques to improve projection, breathing, posture and performance. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to learn and have fun. The class will engage in ensemble work while learning blending techniques combined with movement to be performed at the end of class. Age range from 13 and older, Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30.  Come join the fun! The class will include stage direction for each song by Bill Raiten.

Acting As Truth

This class teaches acting as truth and the craft of acting using improvisation, mind occupation, creative team scenes and discussion. The methods of renowned American acting teachers will be used and discussed, enabling students to begin to understand the actor's responsibilities to the playwright, the audience, fellow actors and to themselves. Improvisations will help the actor to hone the skills of listening, sharing and creating a character with truth. These skills, when fully understood and mastered, enable and empower the actor to convey the playwright’s feelings with such strength that they and the audience become one with the script. Experienced and non-experienced students of all ages will share the stage and learn together.

The Art of Theater Makeup

This course uses a hands-on, project based leaning process. The objective of the course is to learn the basic techniques for the design and application of makeup for the stage by individual practice.

The class moves from simple steps to increasingly skillful and intricate practices, using both a solid structure and a personalized and creative format. Students will work individually and as teams, bringing students into close contact as they practice the art on each other. Students learn some basics of human anatomy and become more aware of others as they are tasked to observe and remember different features, colors and aspects of the aging process. The course also enhances self-awareness as it gives participants the chance, perhaps for the first time ever, to look very closely at themselves from a very different perspective. Skillful makeup application can produce a dramatic effect, which can be appreciated by the whole group and becomes a pride for its creator. The process will be documented by taking pictures of the various steps of makeup process and the pictures can be used for students portfolios.

This class is not recommended for individuals with allergic reactions to makeup products, as a wide range of products are used that cannot all be replaced with hypoallergenic street makeup.

Scene Study

This class is open to experienced acting students. Students perform a scene, selected by the instructor, from a contemporary American or English play. Each scene will perform for the instructor and fellow students every other week during class. During the week that they do not perform, the students will be the audience for the other students' scenes. The students will be expected to meet with the other actors in their scene to rehearse on their own time in order to progress in performance quality between each in-class performance. They will also be expected to comment on each scene they see with dialogue that will be helpful to their fellow actors. The instructor will direct each scene during class as if it were in rehearsal. The scenes will be performed for an audience of friends and family at the end of the semester.

Directing

Students will be given one or two plays to read. The students will break down the responsibilities of the director for these plays and suggest casting ideas. One of the plays may include a scene that will be acted by students in the Scene Study class. The student will observe the directing of the scenes in Scene Study class and then work with the actors as a director of the scenes between classes, to bring their own direction of the scene to class. Students will practice scheduling of casting, rehearsals, and the other details of directing a play and, most important of all, the student will discuss at length with Bill how to convey their and the author’s feeling to the actors and the audience.

Playwriting

Students arrive each week with printed pages from their script and discuss with the instructor what they are trying to communicate through those pages. The instructor then reads the scripts aloud with the feelings that the characters would have on stage, as he and the author dissect the written word to make it visual. They then work together to make each scene meaningful, adding ideas, words and pictures to achieve the end result that the author wants the audience to feel. This continues for the nine weeks of the semester. The ninth week of class can have a reading of the play if the author wishes. 

Instructor Bios

Bill Raiten, Acting as Truth, Scene Study and Playwriting

Born, raised and schooled in New York City, Bill Raiten has always been involved in theater. A stand-up comic in the ‘50’s, a writer in the ‘60’s, a director, acting teacher and producer since then, he has always found his way to the theater. He has directed, taught and performed in New York, Hollywood, and Maine as well as in the USSR, Scotland and Canada. He has educated young and old alike using his belief in acting as truth as a vehicle for his students to find themselves and their innate talent. To his joy and surprise many of the actors he has directed and/or taught have found a successful life in the theater or in the many professions connected to it. He has filmed an original short documentary with Maine Youth Voices and Maine Public Broadcasting that was nominated for a New England regional Emmy Award. Using his teaching methods in partnership with Seymour Papert of MIT he had the incarcerated youth at the Maine Youth Center write and edit their own film. He is the creator of Interview Empowerment and the Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of the NST. Bill continues to serve as administrator of the NST Performing Arts School where he teaches Acting As Truth, Scene Study, Directing and Playwriting.  

Elena Bourakovsky, The Art of Theater Makeup

Elena was a professional Costume Designer for more than 35 years; fifteen years in Leningrad, USSR and twenty years here in Maine with the University of Maine, Orono and the New Surry Theatre. She is also a fine artist of miniatures purchased by the Russian Tea Room and other fine establishments in NYC and is presently a youth counselor with the Blue Hill Harbor School. She is known in the area for her Moxie’s delicious fermented foods that she makes from the vegetables that she grows on her organic Backstage Farm in Blue Hill.

Lori Sitzabee, Singing for the Stage

Lori has a BS in Music Therapy from Elizabethtown College, where she majored in woodwinds and was a vocal minor. She has been teaching private music instruction in winds, voice and guitar since 1985. She has also performed with many instrumental and vocal ensembles to include jazz, classical, rock/pop and musical theater. Lori has also directed small ensembles to large casts with wide age ranges, including a touring show choir and over 25 mainstage productions.

Bryan Lescord, Acting as Truth
A student of New Surry Theatre’s Acting as Truth and Directing classes, over the last six years Bryan has been involved in more than 40 theatrical productions across multiple venues in Downeast Maine.  He has been a regular actor with the New Surry Theatre, and as an educator, taught theatre classes and directed plays at a local school.  Bryan holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii and enjoys working as a high school special education teacher.

Bec Poole, Scene Study
Bec has worked with New Surry Theatre since 2001 and has enjoyed participating in numerous plays in various roles, including prop mistress, stage hand, stage manager, and set designer.  Currently she is one of NST's lead directors, and has directed 3 musicals, including Oliver! (2012) and Carousel (2014) and six plays including Sylvia (2011, 2017), Proof (2012) and most recently Outside Mullingar (2018). Bec is a retired public school art teacher and holds a Masters degree in art education. She lives in Brooksville with her wonderful husband and two lively corgis!