Theatre Institute at Sage and Opalka Gallery announce new
Theater and Poetry Series

Stage & Stanza

First Program will Honor Maureen Stapleton and Nikki Giovanni

ALBANY, NY and TROY, NY—The Theatre Institute at Sage and Opalka Gallery, in partnership with local poet and playwright, Carol Durant, announce a new bimonthly theater and poetry series, Stage & Stanza, to highlight local and national figures in the theatre and poetry fields whose work has meaningful connections to current events. The program will kickoff on Thursday, June 25th at 7:00 p.m. with a celebration of Academy Award winning actor and Troy, NY native, Maureen Stapleton, and Nikki Giovanni, an American writer, activist and educator, and one of the world’s most well-known African American poets.

The evening will begin with staged readings and a discussion about some of Stapleton’s most famous roles like The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, and others, as well as some of Giovanni’s most beloved poems such as Possum Crossing and Quilts. Local actors will bring the work of these two dynamic women to life through stage and stanza. A conversation with actors, scholars, students, super fans and industry experts will be led by Carol Durant, an actor and stage manager, most recently with the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York, and the Theatre Institute Managing Director and Associate Professor of Theater, David Baecker.

Baecker notes about the new program, “It’s exciting to be collaborating with Carol Durant and the Opalka Gallery, working with some great local actors and exploring our shared interests with Capital Region audiences.”

Durant notes, “I’m very excited to bridge the campus and the community with the Stage & Stanza series!”

Sage’s Stage & Stanza will continue with an evening event on Thursday, August 27th honoring Albany’s Mars Hill, a black activist who published his first novel at 75, and James Baldwin, an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist whose works explore themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class and who influenced some of the major political movements towards social change in America.

WHAT: Stage & Stanza: Maureen Stapleton & Nikki Giovanni
WHEN: Thursday, June 25, 7-8:45pm
WHERE: Virtual Event via Zoom
HOW: Event is free, but registration is required. Register by emailing [email protected] for Zoom link. Suggested donation $5.
WHO: Theater Institute at Sage, Opalka Gallery, and Carol Durant

Carol Durant is a poet, author, playwright and event host. She is an actor and stage manager most recently with the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York. She has a M.A in Africana Studies from University at Albany. She is the founder and host of Outliers Poetry Brunch, which is a monthly poetry brunch at Eden Cafe in Loudonville and online. She is a longstanding board member of Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar. Durant’s newest book is Cold Pressed and Just Brewed Poetry. Her first book, Whole Phat and Gluten Free Poetry was published in 2017. Her play, Center of Lying Down was recently cast and performed on Zoom by Quarantine e-Theater, as a wildly successful fundraiser for Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York.

David Baecker is Managing Director of the Theatre Institute at Sage and Associate Professor of Theatre at Russell Sage College. He is also a communications coach with the New York State Defenders Association. Locally, he has directed readings and/or productions for Saratoga Shakespeare Company, the Rensselaer County Historical Society, Troy Foundry Theatre, Theater Voices, and the New York State Theatre Institute. Baecker has an M.F.A. in Acting from Florida State University and a B.A. in Theatre from Washington University in St. Louis.

Theatre Institute at Sage. Established in February of 2011, the Theatre Institute at Sage is dedicated to providing quality live theatre and arts-in-education programming to Capital Region youth, educators and residents. The Institute also provides opportunities for Russell Sage students as performers, technicians and teachers.