Raise your hand if you studied at Studio Theatre’s Acting Conservatory?
For the 10,000 plus performers whose careers started at Studio’s 43-year-old conservatory, the news that Studio would be closing its famed acting school at the end of August came as unwelcome news, marking the end of an era.
“With no warning, the leadership of Studio Theatre — which I founded three years after the first class of the Conservatory — informed me of their intentions to eliminate the Conservatory as part of the theater,” Zinoman writes. “They also informed us that their proposed multi-million-dollar renovation project would now necessitate our eviction from the building.”
According to Zinoman’s statement, she and the current acting conservatory faculty will be starting a new acting conservatory at a new location, no longer affiliated with Studio Theatre but with the same faculty and curriculum. “Serge Seiden and Kate Debelack will be joining me in leadership roles, and Jonathan Pitt has assumed leadership of the board of trustees.” Zinoman writes.
The new school will be called the Studio Acting Conservatory. According to a spokesman for the new conservatory, a location for the new school has yet to be finalized.
“To our current and prospective students,” Zinoman continues in her statement, “I want to assure you that our dedication to you and to the rigorous and outstanding training we have committed to providing you is unwavering.”
On February 13, Studio Theatre put out the following statement from David Muse, Artistic Director and Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg, Managing Director:
The Board and leadership of Studio Theatre have made the difficult decision to bring our acting conservatory program to a close. The decision is one of the results of a strategic planning process that looked to the future, assessed our resources, and identified key priorities for the company.
We made this decision after much consideration, and with respect for our founder Joy Zinoman, for the Conservatory’s esteemed faculty, and for the program that they created. The Conservatory has enriched the Washington theatre landscape by providing a training ground for aspiring professionals for 44 years. We thank and acknowledge Joy and the faculty for providing Washington artists with this rigorous program.
In June of 2018, we began conversations with Joy about how best to wind down or spin off the program. Those conversations came to a final resolution last week. The conservatory will continue operating as planned through August 2019. The summer semester will be the final one offered at Studio Theatre.
Studio is a living and evolving entity, like the community around us and the theatre environment as a whole. Moving forward, we plan to focus on several key objectives: enriching the work on stage, educating future arts leaders, connecting area students with theatre, and engaging more deeply and broadly with the community.
Joy and some of the conservatory faculty have taken steps to establish the conservatory as an entity independent from Studio Theatre and to continue to offer the curriculum. We wish them great success in that venture and we will be working with them to help facilitate that transition.
DC Theater Arts will follow this story and bring you more details as we learn them.