Tech Classes

From the earliest days, Port City has been dedicated to mentoring and providing hands-on opportunities for those interested in theatre tech. Port City embraces the spirit of community theatre where everyone learns many skills and when called upon, joins the team where needed. The tradition of welcoming new people to our theatre and sharing what we have learned along the way continues with our tech workshops.

Current offerings:

New classes to be announced soon.


Youth Classes back to top

Children and Teen Theatre Workshops - Spring 2013
Session Dates: April 20 through June 15
Location: American Backstage • 5380 Eisenhower Avenue • Alexandria, VA 22304
Instructor: Nathan Tatro, Port City Playhouse Education Chair, Actor and Child Development Specialist
Workshop Fee: 9 classes/$150
Students are accepted into one workshop per session. Your student will be able to take similar workshops in future sessions.

Workshop: Introduction to Improv – Say “Yes” to the Guess! 
Ages 8-12 • Saturday, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

This workshop introduces students to the basics of improvisation by exposing them to various activities that focus on developing each actor's ensemble instincts. This class evolves over the course of the module from being entirely instructor-driven, only to transition into having students facilitate—and even design—their own improvisation themes.

At the end of this module students will be able to apply the art of improvisation to the audition and rehearsal process, as well as to real-life situations. Students will be able to identify the elements of co-creation as well as the rules of improvisation. Additionally, students will be able to demonstrate comfort and competency with the acting skills required for successful improvisation, including being dynamic with physicality and gestures; being aware of other actors; developing clarity in communication; and developing the acumen to make acting choices instinctively and with confidence.

Workshop: Go Ahead, Make a Scene! - An Introduction to Scene Study 
Ages 8-12 • Saturday, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
This workshop introduces students to the elements of a scene. This course examines the fundamental components of a scene, including: character objectives, goals, and obstacles. At the end of the course, students should be able to dissect scenes within popular drama and identify the aforementioned components.

The purpose of scene study is to explore the relationship dynamics between characters within a play and then to contextualize these dynamics within the broader scope of the story arch. Students will work to expand their understanding and demonstration of the ten elements of acting: The 5 “Ws” and the 5 senses. Students will become familiar with the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of a scene, and then will be expected to use their 5 senses (sight, taste, touch, olfaction, audition) to make the 5 Ws meaningful. These ten elements will be contextualized withinimprovisational activities; by reading and acting-out scenes from popular plays; and by writing and performing short scenes utilizing these concepts.

Workshop: Putting It All Together – The Situation Comedy 
Ages 12-14 • Saturday, 2:30 - 4 p.m.

This workshop provides the budding teenage actor with an opportunity to use prior experience with scene study and improvisation within the context of a specific artistic formula—the sitcom. Students will participate in advanced improvisational exercises, sitcom plot/character dissections, which will culminate in the writing and performing of two (2), 20-minute sitcom “episodes” for their parents on the final day of class.

At the end of the course, students will be able to explain the history of the American sitcom and how—despite its ever-changing content—the convention has endured. Specifically, students will explore the nature by which the sitcom formula is mechanical, with the relationships of the characters remaining the driving force behind the comedy. Students will acquire a deeper understanding of how the sitcom uses satire, farce, and the juxtaposition of societal norms with absurd situations/characters to make people laugh. At the end of the course, students should be able to answer the question, “what makes 'funny,' funny?”

PLEASE NOTE: Parents, these workshops are for the personal and artistic enrichment of its students. Enrollment within these classes does not constitute a contract for therapeutic services between Port City Playhouse and its students, and enrollment for such purposes is strongly discouraged.


Adult Classes back to top

Coming Soon!


Instructors back to top

Nathan TatroVice President for Theatrical Education

Nate has been involved with numerous community theater productions in the Alexandria area and throughout Northern Virginia as a performer. He possesses a BA in Psychology from Lycoming College (Williamsport, PA), where he attended on theater, music, and academic scholarships, as well as an MA in Applied Developmental Psychology from George Mason University, where he concentrated on child development. He has taught performance to youth, spanning the ages of 3 to 18, at the Academy of Fine Arts (Gaithersburg, MD), and at Mount Vernon Children's Community Theater. He has also used his combined experience in theater and psychology as a consultant to social skills groups geared toward helping children advance their prosocial capabilities. Additionally, he has worked in the nonprofit education sector as the Assessment Manager for AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation (Washington, DC). Currently, he is employed by the American Psychological Association as a project manager.

Mary Ayala-BushVice President for Production

Mary has been a theatre actor, producer, stage manager, and costume designer for the past 12 years.  An Alexandria resident, she has been nominated and won the WATCH award for her costume designs for two productions.  Her theatre training includes The Shakespeare Theatre, The Studio Theatre, Theatre Lab and Little Theatre of Alexandria.  Mary has served in several leadership positions including the VP of Production at The Little Theatre of Alexandria.  She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy and Information Science from the University of North Texas.  When not pursuing her passion for the theatre she can be found at The MITRE Corporation as a Principle Information Systems Engineer.

Frank PasqualinoInstructor

Frank has been doing theater pretty much all his life; he was a blade of grass in his first-grade play when the theater bug bit him. He started off as an acting major at Kent State University, but soon changed his major to technical theater when he saw the multitude of acting majors. While in college, he directed his first show and realized that was what he wanted to be when he grew up! His theatrical experience has run the gambit from technical, directing, producing, and stage managing both adult and children's theater. He started a production company where he produced a number of plays in the Washington DC area and has privately coached and taught acting classes. He has served for two years on the Port City Playhouse board as the President and before that as the Vice President of Productions.