Articles about Mentorship Program

A Day in the Life of a Mentee: Weekend Intesives

A few weekends ago the Mentees at Third Rail gathered in the basement of Imago Theatre to begin a weekend-long intensive exploring vocal techniques for actors. Led by certified Fitzmaurice instructor and Company Member Michael O’Connell, the group would spend the next few days loosening, relaxing and letting go of unnecessary tension in order to “free” the voice.

“All recent voice pedagogies aim to free the actor to connect to their impulses, reduce tension, and allow the body and mind to work together rather than in opposition,” explains O’Connell. “What separates Fitzmaurice from the others is the use of the Destructuring sequence to bypass the Central Nervous System and reintegrate the breath to the Autonomic Nervous System.”

Madeline Shier, a Mentee, shared her expectations of the intensive before it began: “Working with Third Rail on other workshops, I’ve come to realize how entwined the body and the voice are, and how my struggles with both stem from the same root causes. I’m excited to approach that from a perspective of voice, and hopefully learn some exercises…to help me with my breathing and alignment.”

At 6pm on a Friday evening, the Mentees gathered in Imago’s basement, amongst yoga mats, cushions and zafus, to start the intensive. Michael warmed up the chilly evening by asking the group to practice some “Fake Tai Chi” with him. Laughter trickled through the group as Michael facetiously described his time in China with a Fake Tai Chi Master. Warmed up and smiling, the Mentees then got down to business.

Over the course of Friday evening and most of Saturday, the Mentees explored Fitzmaurice’s “Destructuring Sequence.” Destructuring involves “a series of poses or movements that may induce a tremor, which, if invited, can interrupt chronic breathing patterns that hold the actor back from exciting vocal possibilities.” In the midst of doing this work, Shier described how she was “pleasantly surprised by how much [she] liked this work! Voice work [had] been frustrating for [her] in the past, but [she was] really enjoying the challenge this weekend.” Before the weekend, the mentees had each prepared a monologue from a Greek play. They explored their text using the Destructuring positions, discovering the ways in which releasing breath could help to find a vibrant truth in their speeches.

By Sunday, the group was ready to present their monologues as works-in-progress, using their favorite Destructuring positions to dive into the text. The Company and Third Rail Members alike were invited to a rare glimpse into an actors’ behind-the-scenes process. By the end, several mentees expressed how much this work had affected them not only as an actor, but in other parts of their lives as well. “The practice of putting our vulnerability to work,” offered Lisa Guerricabeitia, “is one that has endless application both personally and in performance. The technique provided clear and repeatable efforts to deepen self-awareness and marry the impulse of the body to the release of sound. It was a welcome opportunity to get out of my own way.”

Tune in for our next sneak peek into “A Day In The Life Of A Mentee”, when we’ll explore the before, during and after of a Scene Study session with Company Members Rebecca Lingafelter and Michael O’Connell.

November 2 – November 8, 2015

Our acclaimed production of The Realistic Joneses continues this week! But only two weekends remain to join the fun!

Eno’s lively writing and characters beg for a second viewing… This is a great play performed by four superb actors. I urge you to see it.Edge Media Network

We also have a Members only event this week! A clown performance from our class of Mentees – the result of a weekend intensive led by Company Member Philip Cuomo. The Mentees will be led through three three-hour workshops, discovering and exploring and crafting a clown world. Their work will include the creation of short scenarios in which they apply form and technique to create content. The weekend will be influenced by everyone from Rudolph Laban and Jacques Lecoq to Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Bugs Bunny.

It will be reckless, colorful and wild – and available only to our Members. Can’t stand to miss out on the fun? Become a Member now and join the ranks for less than $30 a month!

September 7 – September 13 2015

Up this week is set, lights, and sound load-in for Or, in preparation for tech this coming weekend. Our designers and production team members are working round-the-clock to get the production performance-ready. And, seriously, wait until you see the design on this one. You’ll be amazed at the transformation made in the Imago space.

This coming weekend is also the Viewpoints Intensive for the members of our Mentorship Program. As you may know, Mentees receive professional training and form their own company-within-a-company at Third Rail. For this weekend’s intensive training workshop, Mentees will explore Viewpoints, a performance language that articulates specific elements of time and space, and emboldens practitioners to generate strong theatrical work spontaneously and intuitively. This training will promote collaboration for the Mentees, as well as a sense of ensemble, both fundamental values to the Third Rail mission. Instructor and Core Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter brings her chops to this workshop, drawing on her own training with two Viewpoints visionaries, Anne Bogart and Mary Overlie.

It’ll be a busy week here at Third Rail. We can’t wait to show you the fruits of our labor.

Don’t Miss the Mentorship Company’s Presentation

At 11:00 am on the morning of Monday, September 6th, Third Rail Company Members and any Members who wish to attend will be treated to a brand new theatrical presentation created in 36 hours by our new Mentorship Company. They will have been working hard (and sleeping little) to bring us this fully produced performance in answer to a question posed by their mentors Michael O’Connell, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Kristeen Willis Crosser.

These actors, directors, and designers will be a presence with Third Rail for the next year and this performance will be a beautiful way to meet them and let them meet you! These Mentees have come from all over the country and, in past years, many Mentees have decided to stay in Portland and have become valuable, active members of our community.

Please come show your support for these emerging artists and be able to gloat about how you knew them when! But remember – this event is for Members only! So, first, become a Member and then spend the first of many mornings at your new, dynamic artistic home!

September 2015

As you know, every week, Third Rail sends out detailed information about what exciting events and projects we have for the coming week. But! Every four (or so) weeks, we get to give you an overview of a whole month! This is an enticing way to see what you have to look forward to over the next few weeks and it is a good quick-glance at just how much is happening with Third Rail and how many different ways we all have to interact with each other, especially if you are a Member! So. Here is September!

Mentee Intensive Presentation (MEMBER ONLY EVENT)

September 6

We cannot wait for our new class of Mentees to get started! This is a dynamic and diverse group of actors, directors, and designers who have traveled from all over to work and train with us for a year. You may have met a few of our Mentees at the first read of Or,. Labor Day weekend, they begin their year with an intense three days of collaborative art making. Please join us as they present their work – and themselves – to the community! Expect surprises and high voltage energy from this talented group of theatre makers.


Opens September 18

Then! We present our fall show, Or,! With echoes of Restoration comedy, quick-change farce, a dash or two of Tom Stoppard, and the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, Or, is a little valentine to love in the theatreThird Rail Company Members are all over this show with director Philip Cuomo, actors Maureen Porter and Damon Kupper, and designers Kristeen Willis CrosserMark Valadez, and Drew Dannhorn. Joining them are Third Rail favorites Amy Newman, Jessica Bobillot, and Owen Walz.

The Realistic Joneses – First Read and Design Presentation (MEMBER ONLY EVENT)

September 14

Even before we have opened Or,, we will have the first read for our next show, Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses! We are thrilled to be presenting another show by the brilliant Will Eno (Middletown) – the first show of his to have had a Broadway run. Be among the first people in Portland to hear this beautiful, hilarious text out loud.

Bloody Sunday Reading (MEMBER ONLY EVENT)

September 27

Finally, we have another Bloody Sunday play reading. Join us for a reading of a play that is under consideration by the company along with nibbles and morning appropriate cocktails. Who needs brunch when you have good theatre and Bloody Marys?

That is September in a nutshell! Keep an eye out for more details and more Third Rail goings on throughout the month. And we’ll see you around the theater!

Introducing The Mentorship Company

Labor day weekend. Many people are taking last camping trips for the season. Many people are having barbecues and drinking Mai Tais. Many people are shopping at Back-to-School sales. But not our Mentorship Company! They will be spending their weekend working hard together as they start their year with us.

On Friday evening, they will join Company Members Michael O’Connell, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Kristeen Crosser. After some introductory exercises, the three Company Members will give the Mentees their project for the weekend. They will have 36 hours to create a complete, fully produced performance with a beginning, a middle and an end. In this performance, they introduce themselves and answer a question posed by their Mentors. Then, at 11 am on Sunday morning September 6, the Mentees will perform their work for the Company and for any Members who join us!

In the past, we have been blown away by the outcome of their projects and we have been inspired by their work. This group of Mentees is a wonderful collection of artists, so we expect we will once again be sincerely impressed! Expect surprises and high voltage energy from this talented group of theatre makers.

This event is for Member only! Not a Member? Join here.

Meet the Mentee Class of 2015/2016 part 2

This upcoming year will be the fourth of Third Rail’s Mentorship Program. We’ve had 33 emerging theatre professionals participate in the last three years, and we’ve watched them move on to many exciting projects locally and beyond. In just a couple of weeks we’ll be welcoming the newest group of developing theatre-makers into Third Rail’s Mentorship Company. We lovingly call them our “mentees”. Recently we introduced you to the first five and now we’re happy to be able to share the rest of the group with you. Meet the remaining Members of Third Rail’s Mentorship Company of 2016!

Caitlin Lushington - Mentee 2015/2016

Caitlin Lushington

Most recently from Southern Oregon, Caitlin has just moved to Portland and has already begun offering Jane Austen workshops to local high schools and colleges. With her theatre company, Enso Theatre Ensemble, she’s currently directing and producing a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that uses “ensemble-based movement and language that moves between contemporary speech and Austen’s words to bridge the gap.” She is interested in “the creation and performance of physical theatre (for example, Viewpoints and Contact Improvisation) and how it relates to meditation and Buddhist philosophy.”

Corey O’Hara - Mentee 2015/2016

Corey O’Hara

Corey’s play Middle Names premiered in the 2014 Fertile Ground Festival (co-produced with Mentorship alum Nate Cohen). He was awarded the Distinction in Playwriting from Lewis & Clark College upon graduating in 2013. In the future, he hopes to start his own film company, while continuing to independently produce theatre in a company-type setting.

Lisa Guerraicabeitia - Mentee 2015/2016

Lisa G.

A recent transplant from Boise, Idaho, Lisa describes herself as “driven by an internal standard that requires [her] best effort at all times,” (which is incidentally one of the common factors among all Third Rail company members). She’s worked as an actor, director, props master, stage manager, and more, from Idaho to Seattle. She articulates the core of her passion, and I think what drives many of us in this line of work, in saying, “theater is how I best express my humanity.”

RaChelle Schmidt - Mentee 2015/2016

RaChelle Schmidt

RaChelle is currently in the process of getting her Master’s degree, and is augmenting that education with the hands-on approach of our Mentorship program. She hopes to become “a comprehensive theater artist,” with interests and skills ranging from acting to directing, dramaturgy, and more. With 20 years of theater experience, she’s worked throughout Portland, and we’re excited to have her as a mentee!

Sarah Yeakel - Mentee 2015/2016

Sarah Yeakel

Having just graduated from Portland Actors Conservatory’s 2-year Actor Training program, Sarah is deeply invested in telling stories. She’s studied with Portland Shakespeare Project, and very recently appeared (alongside fellow mentee Madeline Shier and former mentee Jahnavi Alyssa) in Anon It Moves’ Cymbeline. When asked where she’d like to be in five years she said, “Wherever I end up, I want to be a voice for theatre. A voice that says, ‘it’s okay to feel what you feel. You’re human.’ ”

Meet the Mentee Class of 2015/2016 part 1

Each year Third Rail selects a group of emerging theatre professionals to join our Mentorship Company for a year long residency. It’s been tough to say goodbye to the brilliant group from last year. In fact, we’ve even kept one of them – Nate Cohen – to be Chief Resident who will serve as a liaison between Company Members and our “Mentees“.

Now we are delighted to introduce you to our 2015-2016 Mentorship Company. Each one of them successfully made it though the audition process and demonstrated a passion for theatre and a strong interest in exploring what it means to be part of a company of theatre professionals. They have a rewarding and challenging year ahead which will include various workshops, training, collaboration, engagement with the rehearsal process, work on the administrative side of the organization, the running of our National Theatre Live presentations, and creation of their own performances and final showcase. They’ll create an ensemble based on Third Rail’s model of an artist-driven ensemble who are leaders among equals. We invite you to join us in welcoming them and following their progress over the next 12 months. So, with no further ado, here are the first 5 (out of a total of 10) of our newest Third Rail family.

Alan Cline - Mentee 2015/2016

Alan Cline

One of the founding members of overunder arts (recent participants in the 2015 Fertile Ground Festival, with their piece “down”), Alan is interested in the intersection of new media, live performance, and narrative structure. He says, “Politically and socially engaged theatre is central to my identity as an artist, and being able to grapple with those issues with artists and audiences alike is, of course, its own reward, but being able to do this work for a living? That’s the dream.”

Anthony Arnista - Mentee 2015/2016

Anthony Arnista

Making his way through the Canadian Fringe circuit (in the esteemed company of Mentorship alum Jenessa Raabe) with his show Perpetual Wednesday, Anthony is an MFA graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theater. He currently works as a teaching and performance artist at Echo Theater. In his future he hopes to “create a new piece of work to show every month in a cabaret style setting,” as “a founding member of an ensemble of Portland-based theater makers that specializes in new and devised work.”

Chelsea Burwasser - Mentee 2015/2016

Chelsea Burwasser

A recent grad of company member Rebecca Lingafelter’s very own Lewis and Clark College, Chelsea plans to pursue an MFA in directing. She wants “to find ways to give a voice to communities that typically are silenced and to portray [theater] from their lens.“ She aims “to discover how theater can be used to bridge social gaps and expose systems of injustice through activating all of the senses and making it feel alive.”

Kensie Sempert - Mentee 2015/2016

Kensie Sempert

Kensie is a graduate of Linfield College, most recently acting as a dramaturgical intern for Portland Shakespeare Project’s production of The Tempest. Although she’s experienced in many aspects of theater, costume design is her passion. She’s been accepted to Boston University’s MFA program, but has deferred for a year in order to gain more professional experience – starting with us!

Madeline Shier - Mentee 2015/2016

Madeline Shier

Most recently having appeared in Cymbeline (alongside Mentorship alum Jahnavi Alyssa), Madeline is an experienced actress, as well as having dabbled in stage management and directing. In her time at Third Rail, she hopes to work on becoming “a confident, competent, compassionate artist, sharing transformative, moving work in a place that [she] love[s].”

The Ghost of Sean and the Lock-in Weekend

by Third Rail Mentee, Emily Eisele

Back in September of this year, over our first weekend intensive for the Third Rail Mentorship Program (which we later dubbed “Lock-in Weekend”), the Third Rail Mentees were tasked with creating a three-act play about identity in the 21st century.

During one of our sleep-deprived brainstorming sessions, someone introduced the idea of “The Lost Boy Generation.” It seemed obvious to us that the only way to explore this concept was to have all 14 mentees embody Peter Pan-esque Lost Boys and go off gallivanting on adventures throughout the building.

The building was mostly deserted at this point early in the morning, so we had free rein on our expedition to make silly, bold, physically adventurous choices. At one point, mentee Sean Grosshans disappeared for several minutes, and when he finally reappeared we realized he must be a ghost. An elaborate game of hide-and-seek ensued with our phantom friend, with cries of “Ghost of Sean! Ghost of Sean!” heard around every corner. Later on, we discovered a large wheeled trash bin and some rope. With the help of another mentee, Matt Sunderland (who was wearing a costume attached to “horse”), we fashioned the bin into a usable chariot, which we rode valiantly throughout the second floor of the building.

What did I learn from this unique orientation? I learned that I was going to spend the next year working with a group of hilarious, passionate, resourceful artists who wanted to be there as much as I did.

Emily Eisele is one of this season’s Third Rail Mentees. These ambitious, talented, disciplined emerging theater artists come to Third Rail to gain a broader scope of what it is to be an artist of the theatre.