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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Changes at NACL heading into summer season

Kowalchuk steps down as Artistic Director

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

Tannis Kowalchuk and Brad Krumholz are the co-founders and co-artistic directors of the non-profit NACL Theatre. Kowalchuk recently announced she will be stepping down as director and Krumholz will step into her position.
HIGHLAND LAKE — This past year local theatre company NACL (North American Cultural Laboratory) celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Co-Artistic Directors Tannis Kowalchuk and Brad Krumholz have been collaborating on works since the company's inception in 1997 (and even before then, too; Krumholz calls the pair “forever collaborators.”) Now, as the non-profit theatre arts company starts its 2018 season, the directors are announcing a change.
Kowalchuk will be stepping down as Artistic Director, handing over administrative duties, and focusing more on the artistic side of things. She also will focus more on her family's farm, Willow Wisp Organic Farm in Damascus, PA, with her partner Greg Swartz and their son Simon.
Asked why Kowalchuk wanted to make this switch, she said, “My world was pretty overwhelming,” managing both NACL Theatre and the farm.
“It was becoming a hard split for me,” she said. Now, she will focus more of her time pursuing artistic projects for NACL.
Brad Krumholz will step into the Artistic Director position. As a co-founder of NACL, he has been a part of the company since the beginning. But these past nine years he pursued his PhD in theater and performance at the Graduate Center of CUNY. He also was, and will continue to be, a full-time faculty member at Hunter College as the Theatre Production Manager. However, during those nine years he was still very much a part of NACL and curated the theatre's programming.
During this transformational time, Kowalchuk will remain a vital part of the NACL family. “NACL was in a great position, having come to 20 years,” Kowalchuk said. “I was able to have the freedom to step down as artistic director, and allow Brad to bring NACL to a new and different place.” She said that Willow Wisp Farm is really important to her, where she grows and sells cut flowers as well as makes the daily farm lunch for its 10-14 employees. She will also continue to run NACL Streets, a program that utilizes community members to make “street theatre,” or small works performed in a site-specific setting, such as a festival.

NACL 2018 Season

Krumholz curated the upcoming season of theatre works to be presented at NACL Theatre in Highland Lake during the summer. The theme for all the performances is “Kaleidoscope.” They are a part of NACL's Deep Space Performance Residency program, which is for artists and groups who make devised, original, or ensemble performance. The program is designed for productions already well underway and will culminate in a public work-in-progress performance, which will be part of the NACL presenting season (typically May-October).
“Kaleidoscope, which comes from two Greek words - kalos and eidos - means ‘seeing beautiful forms,'” explained Krumholz. “The lives and worlds presented onstage at NACL this season will reflect the kind of diversity—of race, gender, perspective, aesthetics and more—that we wish to see represented on the world stage.”
The season begins on Saturday, June 16 with “Black Is Beautiful, But It Ain't Always Pretty,” a one-man show by Kareem Lucas incorporating spoken word and live music. The season continues with more works that “will refract the everyday, mundane world into something wondrous and strange,” says Krumholz. The popular burlesque troupe the Slipper Room will return to NACL on June 30.
There will be special programming the last weekend of July when NACL will present three works as well as host panel discussions all about theatre and how it connects to a larger community of theatre-makers. Speakers will include theatre professionals and community members.
During this weekend, Kowalchuk will present her new work in progress “Out of Mind.” The play is a collaboration with neuroscientist Dr. Allison Waters and will “cross-pollinate the disciplines of science and theatre to present an unusual hybrid lecture-performance about depression and the way we treat it as a society,” according to the NACL website.
The season will continue until the end of August. For a full schedule and description of the shows, go to

Starting a New Chapter

Kowalchuk and Krumholz look forward to continuing the creative works of NACL and being “forever collaborators.” They both concur that this change is coming at a good time, and it happened naturally and positively. “We are giving each other the opportunity to change in a way that makes our lives better,” Kowalchuk said. Krumholz agreed. “It doesn't feel like something is ending, we're focusing on what's next.” Through a kaleidoscopic lens, NACL will go on to thrive as a colorful, community group.

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