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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

NACL looks to future, building on past

By Kaitlin Carney - reporter/photographer

The NACL performs “The Weather Project,” a community-wide theatre, art and science project that culminated in an outdoor pageant last August and will continue with performances this summer.
On Saturday, May 30, NACL Theatre in Highland Lake, NY will open for its 15th season with a book launch and performance reading of NACL resident poet Laura E.J. Moran's newly published autobiography, “Desire Line.”
Artistic Director and co-founder Tannis Kowalchuk looks forward to the celebration, but also reminisced fondly on the creativity and hard work that got the experimental theatre to this milestone.
It all started in NYC where Tannis and then husband Brad Krumholz formed the North American Cultural Laboratory, the company in residence at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in the East Village.
Tannis and Brad were working in the office when a fax came through announcing that the Catskill Actors Theatre and neighboring boarding house were for sale.
The CAT, as it was known, renovated the former Franciscan church in Highland Lake into a theatre space that was active for many years. Now, they were looking for fellow actors or artists interested in purchasing the property. Brad's parents helped with the purchase, realizing what Tannis calls a “dream come true: theatre and housing for artists.”
NACL started as a summer program, bringing a variety of performers and companies to the stage. In 2005 Tannis and Brad decided to stop the commute and start working full-time in Sullivan County.
Since 2000, over 100 performances have been staged, with “groups from all over, theatre companies with original plays and their own work. NACL is a place to develop, support, and present original theatre,” according to Kowalchuk.
NACL has become the home for devised theatre, ensemble theatre, and physical theatre, featuring original works often created by the actors.
“We've been embraced by the community. It's great to be a part of something, to participate in events and parades, and to be a part of something we helped to create,” said Kowalchuk. “This interesting, cultural place… we are glad to be a part of it.”
To support the arts, NACL launched CSArts, modeled after a community supported farm, where patrons support the season in advance through family or individual passes. CSArts develops an audience base and makes the audience a part of the production, because NACL is “nothing without a community.”
Tannis added, “Things have changed for me over the course of 15 years. We are not in NYC, we are here. Who is our community here? We've launched many collaborative community projects like the Weather Project, we teach stilt walking, we want to inspire the community to not only be connected, but creative.”
The Theatre plans to embark on more changes in the 15th year. A huge change is the hiring of General Manager Julio Garaicoechea thanks to a two-year $50,000 grant from New York State.
Garaicoechea is an Eldred Central School and Hunter College graduate, with a Masters in Economics. Adding Julio to the team is a “huge evolution for NACL,” that will help free Kowalchuk up to dedicate more time to artistic endeavors.
The team now includes Tannis Kowalchuk and Brad Krumholz, co-founders and artistic directors, Julio, Brett Keyser production manager and company actor, and Zoot from Woodstock Stage and Screen who is the Technical Director.
“It's our 15th year… there's been growth and evolution,” Tannis reflected. We've found a great home in Sullivan County and the Upper Delaware, we have an audience that includes Wayne and Pike counties.”
NACL plans an exciting season for the 15th, including touring the Weather Project in Liberty, Honesdale, and Livingston Manor and working with children in those communities.
A full complement of artists will be staging at NACL, running an intense season though November. The theatre will close for the winter, allowing company members to perform elsewhere or develop their work.
The full schedule for NACL's Anniversary Season can be found at http://nacl. org/schedule/schedule.html or call 557-0694.
Visit NACL at 110 Highland Lake Road, Highland Lake.

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