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On Stage and Backstage: Navigating the Landscape of Professional Theater in New York

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Person using computers to manage stage. Photo by Marc Schulte from Pexels

The professional landscape of New York has much to offer both the practicing artist and those seeking an alternative path in the arts. New York is a mecca for a career in the arts and art management. It is the hub of the theatrical entertainment industry. Besides being a career pinnacle for the aspiring actor, New York offers many “below-the-line” careers in professional theater such as management, direction, production, and union organization. 

Emerging artists and non-artists often find the prospect of entering the professional world daunting. They lack practical knowledge and connections to transition from student to career practitioner. In this immersive intensive, students will learn the basics from professionals in the fields of Acting, Directing, Theatrical Management, Union Representation and Stage Management. Lectures and interactive workshops moderated and run by Kay Kostopoulos will feature her former Stanford students and professional colleagues who have achieved significant success in the New York arts scene. Quite possibly, a student considering a leading role on the stage, will re-calibrate, and consider a career in producing, directing, or helping others become working, successful actors.

Through this series, students will gain an introduction to many venues in which to pursue a career in the arts. This lineup of professionals will be drawn from those at the top of their fields. My having maintained close professional ties with them over the years will serve as an additional object lesson in the workings of show business. Such offerings will provide a wide range of exposure to opportunities in New York.

Students will be given two options for performance:

  1.  Theatrical material, provided by instructor (monologues or scenes)  

  2.  Development of a “job talk” or presentation from their chosen field with guidance from the instructor. 

Meet the Instructor(s)

Kay Kostopoulos


Kay Kostopoulos, Stanford in New York

Kay Kostopoulos directs and teaches acting, acting pedagogy, musical theater, voice, speech, and Shakespeare in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) and Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University. She teaches “Acting with Power” at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and has coached for the Knight Fellows Journalism Program, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Department of English. Kay has created and directed many training programs for Stanford’s School of Medicine.  

She has also taught private seminars for Apple, Twitter, Airbnb, Genentech, Cisco, Sony Pictures, Hitachi, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Lippincott, Ernst and Young, First Republic, Stanford’s Executive Program for Women and Women in Entrepreneurship Program, eBay’s Global Women’s Conference and Women In Cable Telecommunications.  Her work has been featured in “O” magazine. and she has been featured on NPR’s  Philosophy Talk radio program for her work on understanding facial emotions in the treatment of Autism.  

Kay is an MFA graduate of American Conservatory Theatre, where she taught acting and directed student projects as a core faculty member of A.C.T.’s Advanced Training Program. She has taught “Acting for Teachers” at Dominican University and acting and directing at City College of San Francisco, Vector Theatre Conservatory, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, and DeAnza College. She served as Education Director at The California Shakespeare Festival. At Stanford, Kay performed the voices of Athena, Penelope, Circe, Calypso, and Helen in “Encountering Homer’s Odyssey,” an online classics program through the Stanford/Princeton/Yale Alliance. She has directed and performed in educational projects for Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program, including the Emily Dickinson, William Saroyan, and Charles Darwin Centennials. Kay has acted in many Bay Area and regional theaters, including A.C.T., the Magic Theatre, the San Francisco and California Shakespeare Festivals, and Stanford Summer Theatre. She has additional credits in voiceover, film, and television and performs throughout the Bay Area with her music ensemble, Black Olive Jazz.