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Second Stage

The Summer Theater and Performance Intensive

Join us from JULY 23 to AUGUST 5 to hone your performance skills and work with your peers to create a theater piece from scratch.

Find your voice as an actor and as a theater artist!

Experience life on a college campus!

Find your voice as an actor and as a theater artist at UMass this summer!

From July 23 to August 5, the UMass Department of Theater will offer its first-ever Summer Theater and Performance Intensive, a 2-week theater-making course open to all high school students with a passion for performance, theater-making, and changing the world through theater. The intensive is designed for students with all levels of theater experience, since the nature of devised theater allows seasoned actors as well as novices to work at the level that challenges them creatively.

Participants in the intensive will devise (co-create) and mount a new theater piece that reflects their concerns, hopes and ideas about their communities and the world. All students will perform in the piece, which will be presented publicly at the close of the session. The students will become an ensemble through rehearsal, impassioned discussions, theater games, acting exercises, and the unifying process of creating a new work of theater.

The course will be taught by UMass Department of Theater faculty member Lena Cuomo and director Jen Onopa. Both Lena and Jen are committed to nurturing a new generation of theater practitioners and are incredibly excited to launch this new program. (See Lena and Jen's bios below.)

“We are so excited to offer a program that will give each individual student a chance to develop their own essential and unique voice ,” said Cuomo.

In addition to the main theater program, members of the intensive will get a taste of college life. During their two weeks at UMass, students will live in UMass dorms, eat at the dining halls, and participate in optional evening social events and college prep sessions.

The Department of Theater welcomes students of all races, ethnic origins, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identifications to apply.

Some need-based scholarships will be available to students who may not otherwise be able to afford the program tuition.


lena cuomo

Lena Cuomo is in her fourth year as a member of the performance faculty in the UMass Department of Theater. Since moving to the Pioneer Valley, she has also taught Voice for Actors at Smith College. Lena worked as a teaching artist with Classic Stage Company, leading Shakespeare workshops in New York City public schools and also taught dance in Boston for over a decade. Lena has performed a variety of roles in regional theatre and Off-Broadway. Most recently, she worked on a production of Macbeth at Classic Stage Company. Lena received her MFA in Acting from Columbia University and her BA from the University of Chicago, where she focused on Shakespeare and Ancient Greek theater. Collaborating with playwrights, directors, and dramaturgs under the direction of Anne Bogart, Lena deepened her interest in creating original works. She also worked with an ensemble developing different facets of Joan of Arc in Joan: Voices in the Fire, a devised piece directed by Kristin Linklater. Lena draws on her diverse background in theatre to help students discover their voices and inhabit their bodies on stage.


jen onopa

Jennifer Onopa is a theater director and educator currently pursuing an MFA in directing at the UMass Amherst Department of Theater. She has worked as a teaching artist for Chicago’s Redmoon Theater, Gallery 37 projects, and NYC’s Creative Arts Team youth theater, and was a theater and literacy teacher in the New York City Department of Education for ten years. Recently, Jen directed Jackie Sibblies-Drury’s We Are Proud to Present, produced at UMass and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, and I Am Ulysses, an original adaptation of The Odyssey based on her experiences in public schools.


high school visit

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Summer Theater and Performance Intensive

The UMass Department of Theater presents a two-week Summer Theater and Performance Intensive for all students with an interest in theater, regardless of prior experience. Participants in the program will unite as an ensemble to devise (co-create) and perform a new theater piece. This approach allows all participants to find their voices through both the process and the presentation of the final piece. Everyone will perform in the devised piece and participants will receive both individual and group guidance in acting work. All participants will be challenged and grow as artists whether they are seasoned actors or new to theater.

Students who enroll in the Theater and Performance Intensive can expect to:

Students of all races, ethnic origins, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identifications are welcome and encouraged to apply. Some need-based scholarships will be available to students who may not otherwise be able to afford the program tuition.

Click here for more information on Pre-College Summer Programs at UMass, including how to apply.

For information about the course, contact Lena Cuomo at lcuomo@theater.umass.edu
For information about UMass Summer Programs, contact summercollege@provost.umass.edu or (413) 577-2112.

rehearsal intensive



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