The Saratoga International Theater Institute (SITI Company)

Ziggy Schulting, 2018, SITI Company Summer Intensive, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs

Ziggy Schulting ’18 plays role of Pentheus in SITI Company’s adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae.

The majority of the funding I received from this incredibly generous grant went to my participation in the Saratoga International Theater Institute (SITI) Summer Theater Workshop that took place at our very own Skidmore College. I participated as an actor, which meant that the intensive included rigorous physical work, theoretical research, and the generation and performance of new work each week. A typical day of training comprised of Suzuki and Viewpoints training in the morning, composition/movement/speaking or dramaturgy in the afternoon, and then rehearsals almost every night.

For this year’s program, the Company’s 25th anniversary since it’s conception here in Saratoga, we joined SITI Company in researching Euripides’ The Bacchae. In the final week of the program, the entire 60 participant ensemble came together to perform our adaptation of the entire play that drew from compositions from our previous weeks in the program.

This epic work was directed and guided by the legendary Anne Bogart. I had the privilege of playing the role of Pentheus, the King of Thebes who endures a harsh punishment from the god Dionysus (Pentheus’ cousin) after his unwillingness to believe Dionysus is a legitimate god.

This entire program and the role of Pentheus itself was an incredible challenge to me as an actor and as a human being. The work we did with SITI Company was the most physically demanding acting training I had ever participated in. After 8-hour work days we would have to quickly eat dinner and then go to hours more of rehearsal. The role of Pentheus, which would typically be played by a male much older and much stronger than I, also provided me with an incredible challenge. I was able to bring Pentheus to life, however, in my own regard; showing his transformation in a pivotal scene with Dionysus from war-hungry tyrant to a sad, feminine, young boy yearning for absent paternal affection.

I could not recommend this program enough to any young actors serious about honing in on their craft and taking conservatory-like training to the next level. The CDC Summer Funded Internship Award made this expensive program possible for me, and I would encourage anyone in a similarly unfortunate financial position to apply for this incredible award. This program is local for all Skidmore students (so they’ll be familiar with the campus) and getting the funding and communicating with CDC is incredibly convenient because they are right here. I would also suggest to any students looking to participate in a program like this that they ask both the program and the school about funding opportunities, because I was able to receive a bit of financial assistance from both ends, which ultimately made this all possible.

The only thing about this program is that it culminates to about 200 hours in a 4-week period, and while that is quite a lot, it was not enough to apply for the CDC Award alone (you need at least 250 hours). That creates an amazing opportunity to pair it with other opportunities in Saratoga which is exactly what I did with both Saratoga Shakespeare Company and the Corinth Theater Workshop. Read my other two blogs to hear about my awesome experiences this summer with those two professional and pre-professional theater companies as well!

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