Ian Olsen '11 Accepted to National Theatre Institute Program

December 10, 2009

Hartwick College Theatre major Ian Olsen ’11 has been accepted to the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theatre Center’s prestigious National Theatre Institute spring program, an intensive 14-week curriculum that allows students to delve into their craft alongside accomplished professionals and some of the world’s strongest artists.

The program provides strong theatre students with a full semester of training in acting, directing, design, movement, playwriting, and voice. For 13 hours a day, seven days a week, the budding actors are challenged to expand their horizons and create bold, new theatre through the help of working theatre professionals and the student community. The program is offered just twice a year, and admits only a handful of students each round. Olsen, a Theatre and Psychology major, is the first Hartwick student admitted to the O’Neill program in its 39 years.

“It’s an incredible honor to, first, be selected to the program,” Olsen said. “NTI’s reputation for rigor and passion is unmatched in any undergraduate program I’ve ever heard of. It’s a huge surprise to be the first Hartwick student ever accepted, too. I’ve known some incredibly talented theatre artists in my short time here, and Hartwick’s program is deceivingly difficult. Some of our alums are doing incredible work in the real theatre world and they did great work here.”

As part of the program, Olsen also will have the opportunity to study away from the institute’s Connecticut campus for two weeks. In locations around the world—from New York City to London and Russia—O’Neill students train, see theatre, and visit museums and cultural sites. Olsen will head to St. Petersburg, just one of the many aspects of the program he’s excited about.

“We get to collaborate with working professionals in the field who take time off to come teach us workshops for a week or two,” he said. “I’ll be doing theatre from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, seven days a week. It will be total immersion. I’ll be taking all of the classes with no emphasis, per se. I am most excited for movement and voice, though. My body and voice are my most important instruments, and I would like to develop them further.”

Olsen was notified of his acceptance November 5, after meeting with the institute earlier that week. Professor of Theatre Arts Kenneth Golden, who, along with President Margaret L. Drugovich, wrote a letter of recommendation for Olsen, said he’s certain Olsen was the right choice for the program and will do Hartwick proud.

“It’s a very, very competitive program,” he said. “Ian is very motivated, especially when he has a deadline and a reward ahead of him. He’s up for the challenge, and he’s going to do great. I have tremendous faith in him. We haven’t seen the limits of his abilities, because we haven’t given him a challenge that he’s failed at yet. He’s very imaginative, creative, and bright. I think he’ll stand out, even among the program’s very select group.”

"At this point in my life, theatre is the field I want to land in, and I don’t much care where," Olsen said. "As long as I can do theatre with a group of motivated people, I know I’ll be happy. It’s kind of like wanting to be a physicist, but not caring if you end up in a certain field, just on a team that wants to succeed. NTI is giving me the chance to meet similarly minded people in a concentrated area, all learning about one thing for a semester under the eye of professionals. It will force me to hone my passion and find out what I like best. Wrestling with the discipline required to maintain myself and my work will be a challenge, but that’s part of the fun."

Olsen’s selection also serves as validation for Hartwick’s strong Theatre program, which Golden called a rose in the rough.

“Most people don’t necessarily think of Theatre at Hartwick, yet we have a tremendous number of alumni who are doing theatre at a professional level,” he said. “If we graduate, on average, five to seven students a year and look at their rate of success, it’s pretty unusual for a theatre program at a small liberal arts college.”

Since its inception in 1970, the institute has trained nearly 1,000 artists, including actors Jennifer Garner (Alias), John Krasinski (The Office), Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother), and Jeremy Piven (Entourage). Numerous prominent directors, playwrights, and producers—including Jeremy B. Cohen (Hartford Stage), Adam Bock (The Receptionist), and Barry Grove (Manhattan Theatre Club)—also have taken part in the program. For more about the National Theater Institute, visit

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes connecting the classroom to the world. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and limitless study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jennifer Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038