The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca, Inc. is New York State’s only theatre, located in a movie theatre, offering live plays on stage and theatrical cinema on screen. The company originated in 2010 and was founded by Anne Marie Cummings, Artistic Director. Today, we are a 501C(3) tax-exempt organization and a registered NYS charity. By the summer of 2014, The Writer’s Cafe was developed to support new and unproduced plays by NYS playwrights.
The Readers’ Theatre is dedicated to making live theatre and theatrical cinema accessible and engaging in an intimate theatre at CINEMAPOLIS for all audiences — including underserved populations — through price affordability; minimized productions (on script and off), on screen playwright interviews; and free podcasts of new and unproduced New York State plays evoking the golden days of radio plays.
The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca is inspired to do public good and is dedicated to bringing theatre to audiences at a low cost so that those who may not be able to manage the high price of the average theatre ticket can experience quality theatre affordably. Advance ticket prices are only $10 for students and $12 for all adults. At the door ticket prices are $12 for students and $15 for all adults.
We present contemporary, exciting, and cutting-edge work which tells the stories of our lives today. We have produced the works of modern playwrights such as Neil LaBute, Yasmina Reza, Donald Margulies, Enda Walsh, Jane Martin, Keith Huff, Bryony Lavery, and Nilaja Sun, to name a few.
WHERE LESS IS MORE
As writer/director Neil LaBute said about The Readers’ Theatre, in a 2014 interview with Bill Snyder of WSKG Radio about our production of his play IN A FOREST, DARK AND DEEP: “When you isolate a script in this way, you bring it down to that essential combination of material and actors, and it’s not run through the machine of a production. Then you concentrate on the words which is important to a play and playwright. This is theatre taken back to its most basic rituals – presenting theatre with the least number of frills and I think this is a great way to approach theatre.”
The Readers’ Theatre presents live plays on stage and theatrical cinema on screen in a 96-seat movie theatre at Cinemapolis, one of five theatres at Ithaca’s only independent movie theatre. Theatrical cinema can be described as a one-location set-up that is reminiscent of a play, however, the close-ups that are afforded by the camera create an emotional connection and response for the viewer that might otherwise be lost in the theatre.
THE WRITER’S CAFE
In the Spring of 2014, The Readers’ Theatre created THE WRITER’S CAFE, a podcast of new and unproduced plays by NYS playwrights to be performed by actors across the U.S. Since there are more playwrights than there are stages, this is a unique opportunity for playwrights to hear their work and for the community at large to be exposed to new and unproduced work that also tells the stories of our lives today. The Writer’s Cafe provides an opportunity and outlet for underserved populations such as moderate income households. It also appeals to the blind community through their auditory senses.
EDUCATION & DISCUSSION
We invite our audiences to have a discussion following our performances with free talk-backs. New as of 2014, our audiences will be invited to engage with award-winning playwrights from around the world with Skype interviews presented on screen at Cinemapolis. On other occasions audience members may engage with cast members, directors, local professors from Cornell University, Ithaca College, and other scholars and working professionals from the community.
The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca strips away theatrical artifice and cuts straight to the soul of drama. At The Readers’ Theatre audiences can pay more attention to the acting, the characters, and like the good old days of radio plays, audiences are given the opportunity to use their imaginations to fill in the gaps. This raw experience is an invitation for audiences to not only be observers of the creative process, but participants as they respond and react to actors, who, with scripts in hand and blocked to move through space, transform into their characters, far beyond the pages which they carry.
The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca is able to accomplish one of the main goals of our mission by offering quality theatre at affordable prices. All it takes is a few theatre lights, a couple of props (if that), and professional actors. With less, we ultimately accomplish more by performing in intimate spaces which immediately pull our audiences into the contemporary plays we produce. Laurence Olivier had said that for every hundred seats you add past one hundred you lose 10 percent of the performance because, in point of fact, actors have to spend most of their time having to push a performance out in a large theatre instead of letting it be. So at The Readers’ Theatre, actors are able to let their performances be while still playing big moments with impact. Furthermore, the details (physical, vocal, behaviors) are never lost.
While our budgets are attractively low, there are still monthly and annual expenses we must cover. Please consider making an online tax-deductible donation to support our efforts towards a sustainable theatre model. Thank you!
From 2007 to 2015, Anne Marie Cummings was a journalist in Upstate NY writing for the Gannett Company (the largest U.S. newspaper publisher). In 2005, Cummings’ play, India Awaiting, ran Off-Broadway at the Samuel Beckett Theatre (starring Maulik Pancholy, “30 Rock” and “Whitney”). Performance readings of India Awaiting included the following actors: Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Madhur Jaffrey (“Prime”), and Lillete Dubey (“Monsoon Wedding”). Other plays include: Extremes (starring Michael Cullen, “Dead Man Walking”), Purgatory Row (starring Kate Buddeke, “Payback”), Sinkhole, Soul Mates, and Touché. Since moving to Los Angeles eight months ago, Cummings studied screenwriting with Ron Osborn (“Moonlighting” and “The West Wing”), wrote her first screenplay, a culinary romantic comedy, “Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet,” which has been picked up by Intrinsic Value Films in Los Angeles. Cummings has also begun developing a fresh and exciting TV series, also for Intrinsic Value Films.
A graduate of the conservatory drama program at Carnegie Mellon University and Oxford England’s British American Drama Academy (BADA), Cummings has worked with Tony-Award winning director Doug Hughes and other reputable directors such as Anne Bogart and Michael Wilson. At BADA, she studied under actors Simon Callow and the late Peggy Ashcroft, and she has played leading roles across the U.S. at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Alley Theatre, GeVa Theatre, Sacramento Theatre, and The Cleveland Playhouse, to name a few.
Cummings was the Founder and Artistic Director of The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca (RTI), 2010-2015, where she directed avant-garde works such as: Wrecks and Fat Pig by Neil LaBute; Detroit by Lisa D’Amour; Frozen by Bryony Lavery; and Art and God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. Cummings also wrote, directed, and filmed RTI’s anti-bully film, “Easy Prey,” as well as numerous trailers.
While working under award-winning Creative Director, Bridget de Socio, Cummings was an Art Producer for NYC’s Serino Coyne Advertising Agency, developing art for Broadway ad campaigns from The Producers to Cabaret. Also in NYC, she was an Account Executive for LaForce & Stevens PR, launching the first Sephora in the U.S. (SoHo), and she produced the first NYC Fashion Week fashion show for a group of East Village clothing designers called “Explorations.”
In addition to teaching yoga and meditation, she supports important causes related to the ocean, animal rights, missing and exploited children, and she is proudly fostering a baby elephant, named RAPA, at the baby elephant orphanage with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.
For more about Anne Marie Cummings, visit www.annemariecummings.com
Jennifer Rudolph, who has directed Cornell’s Upward Bound Program since 2010, holds a master’s degree in experiential education from Minnesota State University. Through her coursework she developed and led orientation programs for new students. Rudolph also advised students on academic probation. After earning her degree, Rudolph was employed by the Educational Talent Search program (funded by the US Department of Education) to counsel sixth through twelfth graders aspiring to attend college. As Upward Bound’s director, Rudolph provides continuous academic counseling and social support to prospective first-generation college students from rural communities. In addition, she continuously develops and implements academic enrichment programs that bolster the students’ skill-sets and ability to navigate the college admissions process. Rudolph resides in Newfield, NY with her husband and two children, enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and the company of good friends.
For the past 47 years, Hank Roberts, improvisational cellist, has been creating new sounds on the cello. His rhythmic, harmonic, emotional, and timbrel approach to the cello distinguishes him as a unique voice on the instrument and in the world of new music. Roberts has created an extensive body of music as a composer and recording artist, and has collaborated and performed with world class artists such as Bill Frisell, Hal Willner, Gavin Friday, Bono, The Edge, Tim Berne, Jenny Scheinman, Eyvind Kang, Jim Black, Dave King, and Ethan Iverson from ‘The Bad Plus,’ Marc Ducret, Joey Baron, Jeff Buckley, Andy Summers, Gerry Hemingway, Mamadou Diabate, Mark Feldman, Mark Dresser, and Ti Ti Chickapea. Roberts has 10 releases on the award-winning label, “Winter and Winter.” In May 2008, his CD “Green” won the German Recording Critics’ Award in the Jazz category, and his January 2012 release, “Everything is Alive,” on the same label, features Bill Frisell, Jerome Harris, and Kenny Wollesen. Roberts regularly tours and records with his trio including drummer Jim Black and guitarist Marc Ducret, and with Bill Frisell’s 858 Quartet. In 2006, Roberts was featured on Bill’s Grammy Award winning CD, “Unspeakable,” and in 2008 on Bill’s Grammy nominated “History/Mystery,” as well as his 2011 Savoy release “Sign of Life.” His work as an actor, performer, and arranger on the movie, “Greetings from Tim Buckley” is an extension of his work on the original 1991 concert with Jeff Buckley and others at St. Ann’s church in Brooklyn, NY. With 10 CD’s on the highly-acclaimed Munich based “Winter and Winter” label, Roberts’ latest recording “Everything is Alive” (W&W 910 174-2) is now available in Europe was released in the US in April, 2012. It is available at
www.hankrobertsmusic.com and in shops that carry CD’s (US distribution, “Allegro Music”). Recorded live-to-two track by legendary engineer Ron St. Germaine at Sear Sound Studios in NYC, it features Roberts’ compositions and a quartet of prestigious musician friends: Hank Roberts on cello, Bill Frisell on guitar, Jerome Harris on acoustic bass guitar, and Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion.
Marilyn Rivchin is a filmmaker, photographer and videomaker who taught film and digital media at Cornell from 1979 to 2012. Living in Ithaca New York, she continues producing digital media work as a producer, director, and/or editor of documentaries and experimental work. For many years Rivchin has collaborated with dancers, choreographers, theatre directors, musicians, etc., to make projection pieces for live stage performance as well as creating photo and video installations/exhibitions. Among these are Long Ago in May (dir. Melanie Dreyer-Lude, 2012), Bernstein’s Mass (dir. David Feldshuh, 2009), The Elegance of Motion on dragonfly flight for the Ithaca “Light in Winter Festival,” January, 2005, with physicist, Jane Wang and electronic violinist, Ritsu Katsumata. Among choreographers, Rivchin has worked with Jim Self (Merce Cunningham and the Shrine of Dancing Iguana Consciousness… 1995); The Ennead (2001), Jumay Chu (Planes, 2007) and she worked for several years with choreographer Lonna Wilkinson to make Slippage (1987), Makimono (1986), Thinking Through the Body (1985), and Point of View (1983), which toured nationally. Rivchin’s documentaries on art and social issues include What the Parents Know: A Transformative Mediation, 2011, AIDS in the Southern Tier: SEVEN STORIES (1999; NY PBS stations); Never Done: The Working Life of Alice Cook (1993); Kay Sage (1978, Museum of Modern Art collection); St. Soleil: Art for a New Life (Haiti/United Nations, 1976); and Earth (documenting Cornell’s pioneering Earth Art exhibition,1969). She has worked as a film editor for Borderline: The People vs. Eunice Baker (2003/2005), for a pilot, Saved by Deportation, and other projects by Emmy-award winning producer/director Slawomir Grunberg. Rivchin’s films about visual artists include Ithaca artist Mary Shelley,_ Woodcarver_ (2001), an experimental film Frida Kahlo: The Knife and Fork of God (1998), and Its Own Sac (formerly Rescued Earth, 1985, editor) about New York artist Helene Aylon. She was a collective member of Women’s Media on Stronger Than Before (Seneca Women’s Peace Encampment, 1983). Her photographs have often been exhibited locally, but also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (“Thousands,” a collaborative book-photo/sculpture with book artist Kumi Korf, exhibited in A Survey of Book Works by Photographers; and at the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, N.Y.; in the permanent collections of the Women’s Museum, Washington, D.C., the Rare Book Collection, Olin Library, Cornell University, and Mills College), and at the Musée d’Art Haitien, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (“Reflections/Reflexions,” three foreign photographers,1975.) She received her B. A. from Barnard College in Art History, did graduate work in the History of Art at Cornell, completed an intensive program in 16mm Filmmaking at U.C.L.A. for professionals in other fields, and an M.F.A. from Cornell in Fine Arts in Photography and Cinema Theory. As a public arts administrator Rivchin has been Assistant Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, while more recently she was president of the board of the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts from 2002 to 2006.
Thomas Hoebbel has been a professional photographer for over 20 years and has been working professionally in video since 2001. He acted as director of photography for the feature film Waiting on Alphie produced in Ithaca, NY in 2005 and a second feature, Take That in 2007 filmed in Buffalo, NY. While he continues to work on artistic endeavors, Hoebbel has been producing promotional video pieces of businesses and not-for-profits in the Central New York area. Video clients include the Cayuga Medical Center, the Hangar Theatre, and the Tompkins County Library Foundation. He is currently producing two documentary projects- A Tompkins County Almanac and a biopic on legendary fiddle player John Specker, titled Waste My Time. Hoebbel also looks forward to creating his first non-fiction short, Out of Exile to be filmed in Ireland.
Tim Mollen is an author, actor, and director. He has worked with many theatre companies, including the Cider Mill Playhouse, Cortland Repertory Theatre, Identity Theatre in Manhattan, and Half Light Theatre, which he co-founded. With The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca, Mollen starred as Vanya in Uncle Vanya, Taylor in K2, and is one of the featured actors in RTI’s upcoming short film, Easy Prey. His nationally syndicated humor column, “Lost Journal,” has appeared in more than 300 newspapers and websites. Mollen recently published three books and a CD, a collection of the columns, and they are available through his website, www.timmollen.com.
Melanie Shulman has over 20 years experience as an Instructor, actor and choreographer and this year marks her 17th year owning Impact. She is a graduate of The Hotchkiss School and Carnegie Mellon University where she received her BFA in Musical Theater and Drama. Shulman is originally from NYC where she began dancing at the age of three and continued on to dance professionally playing the lead role of Clara in American Ballet Theater’s studio version of the Nutcracker at the age of 10. After completing her education, Shulman returned to NY and acted in a variety of classical and modern plays as well as TV commercials for Dristan and Budweiser, series for ABC Television- “Equal Justice” with Sarah Jessica Parker, the Independent Feature- “ZOO,” and Industrial Films for Lancôme Cosmetics. She has appeared on stage regionally in “Guys and Dolls” playing Adelaide opposite Barry Williams, Lola in Damn Yankees and other productions that included such names as Jane Curtain and Jill Clayburgh. You can also see her on line in the series for Prentice Hall “Mastering Business”. Moving to Connecticut in 1993, Shulman opened Impact Center for the Fine Arts where she and her talented staff taught theater, art and dance to over 300 aspiring artists of all ages. Shulman’s clients included the children of such celebrities as Meryl Streep, Jill Clayburgh, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgewick and Tracey Ullman. Shulman’s students have gone on to professional careers on Broadway appearing in Annie Get Your Gun, Steel Magnolias, Heartbreak House, and the National Tour of Annie. Since 2001 in Orlando, Shulman has been seen in National and Regional commercials for Disney, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Haverty’s and Sonny’s BBQ. She appeared on stage in Godspell at the Winter Park Playhouse for which she was also the assistant choreographer. She was also proud to choreograph the national TV commercial for Care plus Health Care. Ms Shulman has taught all over Orlando including at the prestigious Orlando Ballet School. Shulman continues to teach at private schools, directs children’s theater, and coaches voice and audition technique privately.
If you are an actor or director and would like to work with The Readers’ Theatre of Ithaca, please send a cover letter and resume to
The Readers’ Theatre has a small staff with great ambitions, and we rely on assistance from a team of talented, dedicated volunteers, and interns. If you are interested in any of the below, please send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interns are needed to assist The Readers’ Theatre’s busy office with producing. Administrative interns will work closely with the Artistic Director assisting with work as needed. Duties will be focused primarily on marketing. Computer proficiency is a must. Interns may also assist with audience services and events.
Like all not-for-profit organizations, The Readers’ Theatre is dependent upon financial support from a wide variety of foundations, corporations, and individuals. Intern duties include research, grant-writing, special events, and donor database maintenance. Applicants should have excellent writing skills and be computer proficient.
Volunteer as part of The Readers’ Theatre’s front-of-house staff and see performance readings for free. We welcome your assistance! Contact us and we will reach out to you when we are ready to schedule volunteers.
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