The Actor's Workshop of Ithaca

Big City Training, Small Town Attention

Out of Bounds With Tish Pearlman

Founding Director & instructor, Actor's Workshop, Ithaca

Eliza VanCort is founder and director of The Actors' Workshop of Ithaca. She studied the Meisner Technique in New York City, taught it in Boston and opened up her own school in her hometown of Ithaca in 2001. The Meisner technique was developed by Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse from 1935-1990. Meisner's cutting-edge approach taught students to stop "acting" and instead connect and react honestly to their partners from moment to moment. VanCort trained Katie Spallone, who was one of the first local graduates of the Meisner program, as an instructor. Spallone now leads her own mixed-level Meisner classes.

This show was so popular that NPR picked it up nationally. To listen, follow this link and type in "Actor's Workshop" for the key word. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to hear Katie and Eliza talk about AWI.

The Ithaca Times-Feb 14th, '14: The Advocacy Center: Empowering Bystanders to Prevent Sexual Violence

“Unfortunately violence against women and physical and emotional abuse is incredibly prevalent,” said AWI Director Eliza VanCort. “I haven’t met a single woman who hasn’t been affected by it in some way. Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by domestic or sexual violence. One of the reasons we decided to work with the Advocacy Center is because unfortunately people don’t like to talk about this issue, and in order for any organization to raise money there needs to be conversation. I wanted to give back to them for all of the wonderful work they do in the community.”

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Ithaca Times-Feb '13: Actors Workshop Stages Love Loss and What I Wore For Women's Opportunity Center

In September 2009 Love, Loss, and What I Wore began an Off Broadway run at the Westside Theatre that is still going strong. Recently Ithaca College graduate and AWI alumna Amanda Setton landed a role in the New York production and VanCort went down to the city to see the play.

“I saw her [Setton] and met the cast,” said VanCort. “It was everything I had imagined and better.”

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The Ithacan- Feb '12: ‘Mitzi’s Abortion’: Comedic show bears truth

“Mitzi’s Abortion,” put on by The Actor’s Workshop of Ithaca, offers a humorous and moving exploration of the ethics, religion and politics of late-term abortion. Meet Mitzi (Dayna Joan), a 22-year-old with an army husband and a happy accident — a baby on the way. However, the news is quickly undermined by the discovery that the child will be born with a severe and fatal birth defect. Mitzi now faces the choice of whether to abort the baby or give birth to a child without a fully developed brain or skull.
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Ithaca Times: Feb, '12 Mitzi's Abortion: A Play About A Difficult Decision

"We had a show last year with this publishing company called "Original Works in L.A.," and they only do original works. That's the only thing they publish," says VanCort. "And they contacted me and said, ‘No one will produce this play. I really want you to read this, and it's incredible.'

"I said, ‘What's it called?' and they said, Mitzi's Abortion. And I said, ‘I'm not doing this play. I just can't do another play with an unmarketable title.'"

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Ithaca Times- Jan, '12: Hatshepsut: The Female Pharaoh

Edosomwan said, “There is no place better for me to begin my one-woman show. I am elated to begin the tour of the show on Cornell’s campus, with the Actor’s Workshop of Ithaca theater company where my journey as an actress began. I am incredibly passionate about the material. Hatshepsut was a woman before her time, ignored societal limitations, and went for the dream of being pharaoh.”

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Ithaca Times- Oct, '11: Actor's Workshop marking 10th Anniversary with performance of "Rabbit Hole"

In celebration of its 10th anniversary the Actors' Workshop of Ithaca will be performing Rabbit Hole, a 2005 play by David Lindsay-Abaire, about a couple that struggles to recover after their young son is in a fatal accident. Actor and director Jeremy Webb, who has known Eliza VanCort, the founder of the workshop, since they attended Boynton Middle School together, will direct.

The play includes a relationship between Becca, the grieving mother, and her younger sister. "This is really Katie's show," said VanCort of Katie Spallone, the lead actor in Rabbit Hole. "It's her story; she's in every scene."

"It's funny because we are," said Spallone looking at VanCort, "like sisters."

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Ithaca Times - Mar 23, '11: Spring, Sex & Theater

Both the Actor's Workshop of Ithaca Theatre Company and the Kitchen Theatre Company tackle the subject of sex and sexuality in two regional premieres, and while they approach the subject matter in starkly different ways, what both have in common is what one expects from theater in Ithaca: frank, bold and compelling work produced in a thoughtful manner.
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Ithaca Times: Jan 12, '11: A Real Tragedy

Rachel Corrie proclaims early in the one-act dramatic monologue that will have a limited run by the Actor's Workshop of Ithaca this week. And regardless of what you know, whatever you may think about the student, activist and human shield who was killed by a bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, the character depicted onstage is a revelation.
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Ithaca Post - Oct 2, '10: ORANGE FLOWER WATER

WITH ITS RAPID-FIRE DIALOGUE, explosive plot twists, and no-holds barred aggression, Orange Flower Water is the theatrical version of all-out warfare. By turns darkly comic and deeply tragic, the work and its stunning rendition will be the first show of the Actor’s Workshop’s six-show season and is kicking off Friday at Risley Hall. Orange Flower Water is the perfect reminder that no entertainment can be as entrancing and engrossing as a small black box stage.
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The Ithaca Times - Sep 29, '10: The Next Stage

The Actor's Workshop of Ithaca, which for several years has focused on teaching its students the famed Meisner Technique of "living truthfully under imaginary circumstance," is branching out. With the regional premiere of "Orange Flower Water" over the next two weekends at Risley Theatre, the Actor's Workshop is launching a full-fledged theater company that will present a full season of shows.
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