Students of the Stage

Expanding your horizons at The Gamm


Youth is wasted on the young, but learning doesn’t have to be. At The Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, the Education Department has been offering adult education classes for much of the past decade in response to consistent community demand. According to Susie Schutt, education director, the roster of classes has something for all skill levels, meaning that if you’re looking for a fun, interactive way to expand your horizons and get away from the doldrums of being a grownup, this could be a good bet for you.

“Our mission [covers] what we do on stage, but there’s the education component – serving our wider community and giving people a new lens to look through while they are exploring the world around them,” says Susie, who is also a director, and is currently taking a textual analysis class at the theater to add to her own perspective. “It’s helping me think about approaching plays in a way that I haven’t before,” she adds.

Spring classes include Advanced Acting with Fred Sullivan, Jr. (a staple in the Rhode Island theater community), a studio master class with Artistic Director Tony Estrella and actress Marianna Bassham and a playwriting class focused on second drafts with David Rabinow. By the time of printing, some will have passed their registration deadline, but Susie encourages everyone to take a peek at the Gamm’s website for the most up-to-date information.

“It’s not just for actors,” says Susie, “I think it helps build confidence and helps people look critically at the world, just like theater does.”

Another major benefit of the classes is the sense of artistic collaboration and camaraderie, particularly in the Gamm Studio Theater Lab, which begins this month. This course is particularly unique. Built around new ten-minute plays written by current and former Gamm studio students, the classes work on building a festival of sorts. The class begins with instruction sessions, where actors and directors work with either Steve Kidd (the actors) or Rachel Walshe (directing), followed by three weeks of rehearsal sessions, a dress rehearsal and performance of the plays.

“It’s really exciting,” says Susie, “particularly for people who are new directors or young directors. It’s hard to find ways to get hands-on experience, so this is an exciting way to have actors and a script in a room [with an audience].”
Susie says that the collaboration has extended beyond the Gamm stage; last year, in fact, one of the plays went on to be accepted into the Providence Fringe Festival, and brought their actors and directors along with them. For the Birds, written by Jessica Flori and directed by Jake Berger featuring Kyna Leski and Benjamin Conant, was born in the studio class, and would go on to have a life of its own.

The public performance is set for June 7 at 7pm at the Gamm; Susie says that it sells out every year, and the $10 tickets have been available on a first come, first served basis. However, she adds that this year they are considering advance ticketing for the event, though that hasn’t been decided yet.

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre
172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket


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