Theater is imagination in action. Classes at the Yocum Institute give students, from 3 year olds to adults, the opportunity to learn the skills that make a good actor and to build creativity and confidence.
Our classes for preschool and early elementary school students build on children’s natural inclination to play, providing structure and gentle guidance. As students mature towards adulthood, classes reflect a more focused and detailed approach to creativity and performance preparation. Trained and experienced theater artists teach all classes.
As students advance through our classes, they build on their strong foundation, learning through experience how to bring truth into their acting. Beginners are welcome at any age, while experienced students will learn to take their work deeper and find more nuance.
Teachers use a range of techniques and approaches, drawing on the theories of Viola Spolin and Augusto Boal, using Mime and Movement, Story Drama, Improvisation, Script Analysis, and more, choosing what will best serve the students they have.
Theater and acting cannot be learned in a few weeks, but rather are best learned through continued practice and experience. We offer semester classes for students who would like to try theater and focus on specific elective classes (musical theater, improve, playwrighting, etc.). We also offer school year-long “clubs” and ensembles for students who are committed to building their skills and experience. This year, we are also adding a monthly Saturday program for teens and adults to focus on performance and technical skills.
If you have a specific interest, please contact us so we can find the right class for you or set up a private lesson. Check back for special classes and workshops.
TE01 Teen Theater Talent Scholarship Ensemble (Ages 14+)
Beverly Houck Sept. 14 – June 14, plus optional Summer Tour
By Audition Only: Open to actors in 8th – 12th grade, ages 14+. Ready to take your acting to the next level? Want to create a change in your community? The Teen Ensemble is for serious acting students who want to learn and perform in a focused and performance-driven company. Building on the fundamentals of acting, teens meet weekly throughout the year to explore advanced improvisation, scripted theater, new works, and, in addition to family-friendly offerings, performances focused on social issues affecting teens and young people today. With performances in the Berks County area, master classes with guest teachers, and an optional tour that occurs during school hours, members of the Teen Ensemble are given opportunities to develop skills they need to thrive and shine in any performance endeavor. Call to sign up for an audition or to ask any questions: 610-376-1576 or e-mail email@example.com. Next audition date Jan. 18.
Thurs. 6:00 – 8:30 PM $40 annual fee
TE02 Junior Theater Ensemble (Ages 10 – 15)
Joel Gori (Fall), Nate Rothermel (Spring) Sept. 14 – June 14
By Audition Only: Students will study acting and how to devise new theater works in a master class setting. Refine improvisation skills, learn to build characters, and work as an ensemble leading up to performances of various theatrical styles. Those accepted into the Jr. Ensemble will be expected to work between classes on assignments leading to productions and performance opportunities in the community. Some rehearsal time outside of the weekly time may be needed. This will be arranged on a per project basis. Jr. Ensemble members will also have the opportunity to work with the Teen Ensemble. Call to sign up for an audition or to ask any questions: 610-376-1576 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audition date: Jan. 18. Thurs. 5:00 – 6:30 PM
Thurs. 5:00 – 6:30 PM $110 ($100 members) billed in 10 week cycles
Scholarship Teen Theater Ensemble
About the Ensemble
This talent based Scholarship Ensemble for students ages 14-18 meets weekly and includes performance opportunities as well as creative drama and theater training that is similar to “real life” on-the-job acting experiences. The Ensemble delves into many forms of theater from Shakespeare to Sketch Comedy & Improvisation with performance opportunities year-round.
Established in 2006, admission to the Ensemble is open to students from all school districts in Berks County by audition. The program is designed to develop individual student talent with the goal of enriching the community through their collaborative works. Students often are part of the ensemble for a number of years giving them an opportunity to learn from each other and from the talented professionals who guide them. Through the years they have been instrumental in selecting and developing projects that impact the understanding of issues affecting the community as well as providing family friendly performances that promote literacy, culture and the arts. They have performed at locations such as Libraries, the Reading Museum, Schools, Street Fairs and the Miller Center for the Arts. Through their performances, the Ensemble has reached thousands of individuals and families from all over Berks’ County. Click here for a timeline of Ensemble events.
***The Ensemble Members are required to pay an annual $40 registration fee; however, the monetary value of the class is over $250 per session (4 sessions per year), plus production costs. This could not happen without your financial support.
Scholarship Teen Ensemble
Lead Teacher: Beverly Houck, Assistant Director, Yocum Institute & Producer/Director, Primary Stages Productions
By Audition Only. Open to Actors in 8th-12th grade 14+. The Ensemble is for serious students of acting who want to learn and perform. The focus of this group is on-site performances throughout the County and meets weekly throughout the year. Many styles are explored and performed: Improvisation, Traditional Scripted Theater, New Works & Theater for Peers that deals with today’s Social Issues. When not rehearsing for a specific project, the actors work in a Master Class environment with Ms. Houck as well as guest teachers to hone their acting skills through creative drama, working with scripts and improvisation.
Thursdays (Sept-June) 6:00-8:30 p.m. $40 Annual fee
Audition dates are: Aug. 25 & Sept. 8, 2016
Call to sign up for an Audition or to ask any questions: 610-376-1576 or email email@example.com
For your audition, please bring a monologue or story to perform (preferably memorized), a short written statement as to why you would like to be a part of this ensemble and what you hope to gain from the experience. Dress to move easily, there will be an Improv portion to the audition.
Christine Cieplinski, M.Ed . is an avid educator, performer, and comedian, who has worked Off-Broadway, regionally and locally. She currently performs in a touring two-woman comedy wherein she plays 14 different characters. Ms. Cieplinski is the President of Cherry Herring Entertainment Company for which she directs and produces stage shows geared towards young actors and audiences, as well as, plays that serve as major fundraisers for local, regional, national and international non-profit organizations.
Samantha Clarke is a writer, director, actor, and theatre educator. She attended Philadelphia’s University of the Arts (BFA Acting) and London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (MA Text and Performance). Samantha has had the pleasure of working in and around the Greater Philadelphia area as an actor (InterAct Theatre Company, New Paradeise Laboratories, BCKSEET), director (The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Montgomery County Community College), and playwright (Summer in the Light/Winter in the Shade). In addition, she has worked as the Education and Artistic Administrator for The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and is currently teaching and directing at Montgomery County Community College.
Joel Gori is the Artistic Director of Metamorphosis Performing Company, and resident theater artist at the Institute. He is a movement theater performer and is involved in workshops, seasonal classes and both directing and performing in several Primary Stages Productions. He is a rostered artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Arts-In-Education and does theater residencies throughout the state.
Beverly Houck studied at AMDA in NYC and received her BFA in Musical Theater at the University of the Arts. Upon graduation Beverly was a resident actor at the Hedgerow Theatre for 2 years, she then pursued a professional career in theater both regionally and in NYC where she performed onstage as well as in film and television. Loving the theater as well as acting, she also directed, stage managed and costumed many productions. Favorite roles onstage include Ophelia in Hamlet, Celia in As You Like It, Susannah in Bedroom Farce, Catherine in Pippin and Duckling Smith in Our Country’s Good. She has been fortunate to combine her passion of all art forms and the transformative experiences they bring to both the participant and to the audience they serve in her current position as Assistant Director of the Yocum Institute for Arts Education.
Alexis Jenofsky is a Philadelphia native theatre artist who continues to create art all over the world. She has trained with some of New York’s best during the Artist as Citizen intensive at Juilliard and spent 6 months working in London with the English Touring Theatre Company. Recently, Alexis taught theatre overseas at a residential school in Shanti Bhavan where she learned how important art is for academic and social success. Alexis has been recognized by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her work as Assistant Director on Jeffery Lentz, and Cocol Bernal’s Maelstrom and Stage Manager on Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things. Some of Alexis’ directing work includes but not limited to, Doubt: A Parable, James and the Giant Peach the Musical, and Shrek the Musical. Currently Alexis is serving as Chair of Artists Striving to end Poverty mid-atlantic region and Artistic Director of Albright’s Domino Players Theatre Company as well as pursuing a BA in Theatre/Arts Administration at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, class of 2017.
Ashley Pierce brings a great deal of knowledge and insight. Her expertise is in Shakespeare, having studied three years and received two Masters in this field. In addition she has a Bachelor’s and an Associates degree in Theatre Arts Performance. An experienced actor, director, and designer. With a passion for theater and education she brings her knowledge of developing in school programs connected to theater. Ashley holds her MFA and MLitt Mary Baldwin College in Shakespeare and Performance, her BFA, Florida Southern College in Theatre Arts Performance and an AA Northampton Community College in Theatre Arts Performance
Nate Rothermel is a local theatre artist with a passion for empowering others with art. Nate is currently president of ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty) at Albright College, and he has trained with NY-based artists during an Artist as Citizen Conference at Juliard. Nate is a nationally recognized actor by the Kennedy Center, and he has acted professionally with Metamorphosis Performing Company and Brickhouse Theatre Company. In addition, he has a diverse and extensive amount of collegiate-level acting credits. Nate also has experience directing, and his most notable credits are Seussification of Romeo and Juliet with Yocum Institute, and Samuel Beckett’s Act Without Words II with Albright College. He also extends his theatrical skills to playwriting, and some of his ten-minute plays have been produced at Albright College. Nate is currently seeking a BA in Theatre from Albright College.
Debbi Silas – has spent her life doing what she loves best: working with children. As a Theater professional she has directed, acted and choreographed in numerous productions. For more than 10 years, she has thoroughly enjoyed directing young people locally at Yocum Institute, Alpha Omega Players, Genesius Theatre, and Reading Community Players (RCP). She most recently directed productions at Reading Civic Theatre (Cinderella) and Fleetwood Community Theater (Children of Eden). In 2009 she was the Theatre for Young Audiences director at Gretna Theatre where she produced five childen’s shows in five weeks. Debbi has accompanied two award winning casts of young actors to the Music Theatre International’s Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Onstage, Debbi’s favorite roles include: Mrs/ Shoemaker in the Elves and the Shoemake (Primary Stages),Ernestina in Hello Dolly (Gretna Theatre), Mrs. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol (Reading Civic Theatre), Guido’s Mother in Nine (Alpha Omega Players) and Jennyanydots in Cats (Genesius Theatre). In 2010, she retired from a 35 year teaching career, at the same school, in Exeter, as a Life Skills teacher.
Special Guest Teachers:
Christopher David Roché is an actor, director, singer and stage manager from Shillington, PA. Chris received his B.As from Albright College, in Theatre and History with a minor in Voice. Serving the resident company, The Domino Players, Christopher was nominated three times for the Irene Ryan Award and was a member of the award winning production “Eurydice”, by Sarah Ruhl, in which he won the award for best ensemble performance from the Kennedy Center. Other accolades include winning the Certificate of Highest Merit from the Kennedy Center for the design of “Baby with the Bathwater”, in which he served as the assistant scenic designer and lead scenic artist. Upon graduation, he received departmental distinction for his senior thesis, “Directing, Designing and Dramaturging; Caryl Churchill’s, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza”. Since graduating, Chris has worked in TV, film and on stage as an actor, singer, director and stage manager and as a private acting instructor and audition coach. Please feel free to visit his website, www.christopherdavidroche.weebly.com.
Megan Rose is a holds her masters in theater from Villanova University. She is an actor and theatre artist. Additionally she holds a BFA in Theatre and a BA in Spanish from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. In addition to stage theatre, Megan also has extensive film credits which include Barmy (Sarah), Hugo/Julia (Julia), and Remorse (Bartender).
Sam Scott (Samantha) is one of New Zealand’s leading theatre and television directors. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Massive Company, which produces all new work and has performed nationally and internationally at prestigious theatres such as the Royal Court, London, UK and Contact Theatre, Manchester, UK. Massive Company specializes in working with emerging actors and offers an extensive mentoring program for all related theatre areas. Massive Company’s work is dynamic, physical and highly innovative in its style and form. At the heart of Massive’s work is their unique and powerful approach to working with personal stories as the base of all their productions.
Katie Urich received a BA in theatre from Ursinus College. She recently returned to her hometown of Reading, having spent two years teaching theatre in central Florida as an Americorps volunteer. She has volunteer taught in Spain and Peru and has previously worked in our theatre department teaching creative drama. As a performer, Katie could be seen most recently as Susanna in the Reading Theatre Project’s original piece May Be Honest -The Life and Trial of Susanna Cox. She is currently an ensemble member of the Metamorphosis Performance Company.
Theater classes are offered on our semester schedule.
Fall: September 12-November 19: Closed
Mini-Session: November 21-December 23: Closed
Winter: January 9-March 18: Closed
Spring: April 3-June 10: Closed
Summer: June 19 -August 19: Closed
Private Instruction is offered on our Private Schedule.
Session 1: September 5 – November 12
Session 2: November 14 – January 21
Session 3: January 23 – April 1
Session 4: April 3 – June 10
Summer 2017: June 19 – August 19
Please refer to Calendar for closings and holidays.