In 1993, the non-profit, professional Willows Theatre Company in Concord, CA suffered budget cuts that forced it to eliminate acting classes. The troupe had been a program of the City of Concord Department of Parks and Leisure Services, so when that funding source ceased, "classes had to go," artistic director Richard Elliott is quoted as saying.
Now, under conservatory director Livia Genise, the Willows Company has formed the Concord Conservatory For The Performing Arts at the Willows Theatre. "We're especially thrilled," said Elliott, "that the theatre is operating successfully enough to be able to reinstate our training program."
Artistic director Richard Elliott told Playbill On-Line how the new training program came about: "The City of Concord had annihilated funding for the arts. So we spent the last three years reorganizing and concentrating on productions. But now we have a facility that's one of those $1-a-year city-owned jobs, and we don't need $48,000 just for a space."
The classes, for students of all ages, will include Acting for the Camera, Voice-over, Musical Theatre, Beginning Movement, Jazz, Music theatre and technical theatre. Private instruction will also be offered. Classes will take place at both the theatre space and a rehearsal studio in Concord.
Faculty at the center will include performers with Broadway credits (like Genise) and such California experience as Theatreworks and San Francisco's Mason Street Theatre. For information and registration materials, call (510) 798-1300.
--By David Lefkowitz