Educational Outreach Program

Shakespeare Outloud

Theme: A small troop of actors will read selected scenes from a Shakespearean play chosen in co-ordination with the English department. These experiences actors will bring the word alive and speak of overcoming basic fears and challenges one faces when tackling the Bard!


Theme: An historical overview to Kabuki as well as an exposure to its basic tenants. An introduction and demonstration of fundamental movements are practiced by the class.

Teacher: Professor Lonny Joseph Gordon

Lonny Gordon has enjoyed an international career of 30 years of a performer, Gordon now devotes his energies to research and teacher.  Lonny has been invited to teach visual arts and choreography for India’s National School of Drama, the University of Stockholm, the National College of Chinese Culture, Smith School, the Seoul Institute of the Arts and numerous other centers for learning.  He has been Artist-in-Residence/Guest Artist at over 150 institutions and cultural centers globally.  His creative work includes over 90 art/dance/theatre works commissioned by sponsors as diverse as the World Exposition in Osaka, Japan; the Cultural Dances of Malaysia; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Museum of Fine Art in Japan; Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Ruth Page Foundation.  Professor Gordon completed a Master’s Degree in Classical Japanese Dance – Cultural Studies from the Nishikawa School as the First non-Japanese student graduated.  Other honors include a professional fellowship from the Japan foundation, performances with the Umewaka Noh Theatre, numerous grants to study Bugaku and Noh in Japan, as well as a Fulbright Grant to research Korean Culture, a fellowship from the Korean Performing Arts Institute for study at the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Center.  As World Outreach Professor for Illinois State University, he is creating new art working with fine arts majors and non-majors across the university by incorporation an interdisciplinary relationship of the arts and letters.

Beijing Opera

Theme: Very much a parallel to the Kabuki introduction, this class gives an historical background to this ancient operatic art form. Students gain as well an exposure to some of the most iconic figures filling the more popular operas. Time permitting, a make-up workshop will also be given.

Teacher: Ghaffar Pourazar is a British performer who was the first foreigner to complete the arduous training at the National Academy of Beijing Opera. He is the leader of the International Monkey King Troupe, whose mission is to make Beijing Opera accessible to a worldwide audience.As the most successful foreign performer of this Chinese art-form he has become quite famous in China and his story has been told in news features on the BBC, CNN, CCTV, as well as in the Asian Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Pourazar arrived in Beijing in 1993 and started his four years' training in the Beijing Peking Opera School. In 1996 he won the Golden Dragon Award in the International Opera Festival. He then moved on to postgraduate program at the National Academy of Traditional Chinese Drama. He was a British Council Senior Scholar in Beijing from 1995 to 1997, and was awarded a grant from The Asian Cultural Council to research and record Beijing Opera traditions and stories from the old masters. As Artistic Director of the Zheng Yi Ci Theatre in Beijing, the oldest traditional opera theater in Beijing, he introduced Beijing Opera to many international dignitaries, foreign tourists and attracted a large Chinese audience. As the first non-Chinese to have directed the National Opera Troupe of China, in October 1997, Pourazar adapted and directed the Peking Opera production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Pourazar has presented workshops and toured around the world extensively with the traditional opera Legend of the White Snake and with his international Monkey King Troupe.


Theme: Students are thrown in at the deep end of the art and action of improvisation. The design of improvisation is to open the flood gates of inspiration of the actor, not necessarily to move him/her to a career path in improv. He/she even in brief encounter w improv will feel the muscle of autonomy as an artist and more importantly, as a person creating their life path.

Teacher: Rick Overton

Rick Overton is a veteran of the comedy scene, television shows and film - check out his IMDB page. He's been at it for 40 years, and in those four decades he's learned one important thing - stay calm when things change (Which they invariably will) and look like you're ready to tackle whatever happens next. It takes a certain kind of training to not choke up, and nothing gives you a handle on your own fears like being repeatedly being flung into a void with no script and inventing your way back out again. Manufacturing your own light, your own words, your own character. Improvisation. The thing that the right half of your head does all day long whether you know it or not. The problem solver, in Inventor, The Author, The Songwriter. All comes from one spot. This class will help you to get there sooner, and get a laugh along the way. Anyone who's seen Rick on THE OFFICE knows that the show may be scripted, but lots of comic gold is mined from off the cuff improv scenes as well. As Rick says, "It's payed my bills for way more than half my life. It can for you too, IF you start working it now."

Cabaret performance

Theme: The focus of the class is to learn how to present a song. Each student works in front of the class with his/her song and is taken through a process of how to break it down. Details of how to chose movement, chose the inner monologue, where to place hands, eyes, feet are explored.

Teacher: Linda Purl

Linda is the Founder of the California International Theatre Festival, which just recently enjoyed its fourth season right here in Southern California presenting plays from around the world. Born in Connecticut, Linda grew up in Japan, becoming the only foreigner to have trained at the Toho Geino Academy. Her studies continued at LAMDA, Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg Institute. Her performances on Broadway include the Tony nominated musical The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Getting and Spending, and The Baby Dance. Her theatre credits include such classical plays as Romeo and Juliet,The Little Foxes,The Merchant of Venice, A Streetcar Named Desire, Hippolytus, A Glass Menagerie, The Road to Mecca; A Doll’s House, at such theaters as Long Wharf, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, Santa Fe Opera, Cleveland Playhouse, six seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco, Imperial Theatre, Tokyo Japan.  Linda has starred in over 40 made-for-TV movies, and is especially known for her series roles Charlene Matlock on Matlock and Ashley Pfister, Fonzie’s fiancée, on Happy Days. She is currently recurring on: True Blood as Barbara Pelt, The Office as Helene Beasley and Homeland on Showtime as Elizabeth Gaines. Linda tours nationally and internationally in concert and has two solo CD’s in release.

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