Fall classes have begun!

(pictured: Fall 2016 SPARK Ensemble's original performance of Thanksgiving Leftovers)

(pictured: Fall 2016 SPARK Ensemble's original performance of Thanksgiving Leftovers)

Fall classes have begun, and students and Teaching Artists are excited to explore new songs and tell new stories! Students grades K-8 will use their imaginations to create characters and story lines based on the music that they love. Our Teaching Artists will facilitate creative storytelling with the students in preparation for their original performances at the end of the semester. Our SPARK Teen Ensemble students (grades 9-12) will create an original piece inspired by thecharacters and themes of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing to be performed on our MainStage!

Teaching Artist reflects on Summer Camp

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"Creating with my students is always a joy, but to be a part of something we created together is truly a magical experience. To see their faces light up when I donned the fabulous wig of 'Frenchie' (pictured) was one of the highlights of my summer experience. Not only were we teaching our students the process of artistic collaboration, but I had the opportunity to show them that even when acting assignments change, anyone in the cast can step up and continue to make the show shine!" --Patrick Jackson, Summer Camp Teaching Artist

Teaching Artists: From Camp to Class

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Our fall youth classes start this weekend! We such fun with our musical theatre-focused sessions during summer camp, that we are now bringing musical theatre classes into our fall programming. It's wonderful to see our teaching artists taking what they've learn in our training sessions and at camp, and challenging themselves to develop new and unique content - as well as challenging our students to grow!

Disney Dreams: Songs & Stories
Grades K-2

Do you dream in Disney music? Students will explore the characters and songs of their favorite stories, movies, and musicals! Featuring music from “The Lion King,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Pocahontas,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Toy Story” and “Hercules,” this course will feature spectacular songs as students craft original scenes and characters inspired by the music they love. These young artists will discover the basics of acting, voice, and movement as they develop unique characters, stories, and sing their hearts out. The class will culminate in a Final Sharingdemonstrating what students learned throughout the semester.

Musical Theatre Dreams: Scenes into Songs
Grades 3-5

Young artists have big imaginations filled with unique ideas, characters, and songs. Students will learn basic voice, movement, and acting technique as they explore some of the most popular and inspirational songs about big dreams like: “Somewhere Out There”, “I just Can’t Wait to be King”, “Pure Imagination”, “If I only had a Brain”, and more!  As we discover the lyrics and meanings behind the music, students will develop acting and writing technique as they craft unique characters and original scenes inspired by these songs. The class will culminate in Final Sharing of their scenes into songs.
 

ON THE HORIZON:
Musical Storytellers
Grades 6-8

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams…”
-Arthur O’Shaughnessy

This semester, the ON THE HORIZON Ensemble will craft a Musical Theatre cabaret in their own voices. Under the guidance of a professional director/playwright, these young artists will explore the process of collaborative scene-writing and songwriting. The final piece will be performed on our MainStage, and include a series of scenes and songs, some written by students, and some pulled from popular musicals and classic plays.

This experience challenges young people to build their acting, writing, voice, movement, and teamwork skills. Through this artistic process, students will explore WHY musical theatre matters, and how powerful it can be.

No experience necessary! Students new to musical theatre are just as encouraged to participate as students with previous experience. Creating an original cabaret asks each artist in the ensemble to bring their unique strengths and voices to the table.

 

SPARK Original Production
Grades 9-12

This semester, the SPARK Teen Ensemble will craft an original play inspired by the themes and characters of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

These young artists will work with a professional director/playwright to create, rehearse, and perform a one act play, which will run for 2 performances on the set of our MainStage professional production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. This experience challenges students to elevate theiracting, voice, movement, and writing technique. Through the process, students will explore WHY theatre matters, and how powerful it can be.

 

SPARK Improv Team
Ages 13-18

SPARK IMPROV Team is an extension of American Stage Improv for teens. Improv isn’t just crazy fun, it is a necessary and fundamental skill-set for ALL theatre artists. SPARK IMPROV ignites awareness, intellect, and artistry in young adults as communicators and collaborators. These young artists willwork together from September 2017 – May 2018, each Sunday afternoon (excluding holidays).
They will explore the basics of working as a troupe/ensemble, hone their creative voices, and collaborate to develop honest, impromptu scenework, and an original longform improv format.They will also explore various genres of improv.

The SPARK IMPROV Team will perform multiple times throughout the year, for youth final sharings, as well as the quarterly American Stage Improv student festivals (alongside other teams of adult improv students). Toward the end of their year together, there will even be opportunities for this team to perform in House Teams Live, alongside our professional improv teams.

Young artists, ages 13-18, must participate in a fun, 2-hour audition process that will allow us to see each player’s unique qualities, and their how they collaborate with an ensemble. Players may have varying levels of experience, as long as they fit together as a balanced team with an array of strengths.

Classes for grades K-5 begins September 2nd and run through November 18th. Classes for grades 6-12 begin September 16th, and each have specific performance dates on our MainStage. Our new SPARK improv team begins September 3rd, and rehearses throughout the year, performing in many of our professional improv shows with American Stage Improv.

Teaching artists gathered to celebrate a successful summer!

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Following the close of Summer Camp, our teaching artists gathered to celebrate a successful summer, and to share moments of inspiration and heartwarming stories from camp. It is always so rewarding and uplifting to watch students grow creatively through our programs, and know that this process has left an impact on their intellectual development. Through the hard work of our incredible teaching artists, Summer Camp 2017 helped to encourage many young artists to think creatively, express their ideas, and make bold choices. Congratulations American Stage Teaching Artists!

Teaching Artists come together to reflect on Summer Camps at American Stage

Our Teaching Artists got together for a camp wrap-up party! We shared funny stories and heartwarming moments from our 9 weeks leading summer programs for grades K-12. What an amazing adventure! 

Our Teaching Artist party discussions led us to notice the transformative power of live theatre. We witnessed so many young people discover more about themselves and others, build confidence, and hone their creative voices. 

Thank you to all the amazing artists and teachers who empower young people, and make our community stronger.

Now we begin lesson planning for fall classes!

​​That's a wrap!

We have concluded our 2017 Summer Theatre Programs, and what an incredible adventure it has been!

Our K-2nd grade students started their summer with an exploration of Dr. Seuss' stories and wild characters, dove into an under the sea adventure, explored jazz music and culture on a 3-week musical theatre journey (Freddie the Frog and the Jungle Jazz, pictured), and explored the history and culture of our famous landmarks on The Great American Adventure! 

Students in grades 3-5 put their own spin on the classic story Beauty and the Beast, traveled back in time to the invention of the airplane in Wright! The Musical (pictured), studied traditional folktales from around the world and created their own modern stories, and explored Shakespearean characters and culture, using what they learned as they wrote their own Shakespeare inspired scenes!

Our Middle School students began the summer discovering the key elements of improvisation, and jumped into writing and performing their own meaningful devised theatre piece. Their 3-week quest through classic fairytales led to the trial of the Big Bad Wolf in the Big Bad Musical (pictured). Next, exploring the elements of theatrical scene-work, students learned to trust their instincts to make strong, bold choices on stage. 

Teen Summer Institute students (grades 912) spent the summer working with local professionals to continue to grow their skill sets. The summer began with a Sketch Comedy workshop, where they wrote, directed and performed their own sketches. In the next two sessions, students honed their auditioning and directing skills. Jumping into musical theatre sessions, they performed selections from Hairspray, and performed Into the Woods, Jr. at the Palladium theatre (pictured). They concluded the summer with a one act adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night performed at American Stage.

It was an amazing summer! We hope to see you back next year! Enrollment for Summer Camp 2018 will open in early February.

Next up for American Stage Education: Fall Classes for Youth start September 2nd!

Summer Theatre Programs are wrapping up this summer!

Only one more week of Summer Theatre Programs left at American Stage! Last week, our students and teaching artists are focusing on scene-work through many lenses:

The Great American Adventure for grades K-2 devised their own short piece about tall tales in American History!

Ancient Folklore for grades 3-5 explored folk tales around the world, including Europe, Africa, and Asia! (pictured drawing characters from European folklore)

Scenes for the Stage for grades 6-8 discovered the layers of scene-work, and being a great scene partner through improv and scripted A/B scenes that encourage students to use their imaginations. (pictured playing a character-driven improv game)

Twelfth Night for grades 9-12 completed auditions, and are about to delve deep into the rehearsal process as they produce a one-act version of this Shakespeare play. This 2-week session culminating in a performance on our MainStage! (pictured playing a teambuilding activity)

Our final sharing (including our teens in Twelfth Night) is August 4th at 5pm. All final sharings are at American Stage!

Musical Theatre Camp ignites emotional, intellectual, and creative growth

What an awesome musical theatre camp we had over these past 3 weeks! Four age levels of ensemble productions performed at the Palladium Theatre, and we're so proud of our teams of young artists. Our professional teaching artists guide students through a collaborative artistic process that ignites emotional, intellectual, and creative growth. And it showed in all 4 performances last night!

We are so grateful for the support from Creative Pinellas that allows us to provide professional development for our teaching artists. They each have their own unique process and expertise, so our training sessions inspire our already-amazing teaching artists to explore various educational methods and artistic techniques, as well as provide best practices in conflict resolution, and inclusion for neurodiverse students.

This photo was taken during the dress rehearsal of our K-2nd grade group performing FREDDIE THE FROG AND THE JUNGLE JAZZ with teaching artists Mikayla Philips and Ava Zisman.
 

Getting Ready for 'The Big Bad Musical!'

Miss Sarah is working with students in the 6-8 grade class as they learn blocking and choreography for the opening of their show, The Big Bad Musical!

The Bid Bad Wolf is on trial for crimes against other characters in the enchanted forest.

Each day students spend time learning the vocal score, practicing choreography and working on character study. Looking forward to the performance at the Palladium next Thursday night at 5pm!

Vocal warm-ups begin & WRIGHT!...a pop-rap musical takes flight on July 20th

Welcome to Session 5, Musical Theatre Production Camp! Over the next 3 weeks, students in grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 will rehearse and perform fully produced one-act musicals. All performances are open to the public and will take place on Thursday, July 20th, 5 pm at The Palladium.

We're extra excited for the NEW musical: WRIGHT! Our 3rd-5th grade students are working with Miss Molly, Mr. Patrick, and Miss Alex to warm up their voices in this featured video. WRIGHT! is a pop-rap musical (HAMILTON-style) about the journey of the Wright brothers. 

Stay tuned for more exciting news with our Summer Camp next week.

Musical Theatre at Camp take a Journey through Music Genres

This week at camp we are all delving into the world of musical theatre! The K-2nd graders are exploring the Beatles with Teaching Artists Molly Healy (actor/playwright) and Ally Thomas (actor/stage manager). The 3rd-5th graders are learning Thriller with Sadie Lockhart (actor/choreographer) and Mikayla Phillips (actor/voice coach). The middle schoolers are creating a medley using the classic musical Grease with Teaching Artists Jaye Sheldon (voice coach/playwright) and Patrick Jackson (actor/choreographer). The 9th-12th graders in Teen Summer Institute are performing scenes and songs from Hairspray with Teaching Artists Alison Burns (actor/choreographer from the recent American Stage production of the same title) and William Bryant (actor/music director). This week's final sharing is going to be a colorful and delightful journey across music genres! Check out the students learning their choreography!

From Facebook Post to a Student Play

Session 3: Young Storytellers, On the Horizon

On Monday (the first day of this camp session), we posted this quote on Facebook.

"I'm so happy to be in a place where everyone is thought of as equal."
-6th-8th grade student, Session 3: Young Storytellers, On the Horizon

A parent instantly commented on it:

"My son came home so excited from camp today...When he came home he immediately started writing his own play. Thank you so much for providing an environment where he felt welcome and comfortable...He is always so worried about fitting in. He had really worked himself up that he wasn't going to be 'good' at camp. The fact that he gave up going to his JiuJitsu class to write this, really says how happy he was."

She then sent us his AMAZING story:

ABEL
by Jack Tierney

Ever since 2014, hikers and adventurers have gone missing without a trace. I decided to investigate one day. Here is my diary…

10:30 Pm, June 15, 2015

In the black of night, I finally reached my destination. Whokai Forest, Panama. In one hand, I had a flashlight. I crept into the woods, pushing away undergrowth. I suddenly noticed this strange red light shooting up into the stars. When I got to the source, I discovered it was some sort of marking beacon. Then I saw little white lights leading in a path. It was a long path but when I reached the end of the road…

10:38 Pm, June 15, 2015

I saw the most amazing sight. A simply ENORMOUS UFO. It must have been the size of a 2-story house. No, no, it was MANSION SCALE. It looked exactly how most sci-fi UFOs are pictured. On a certain area, it read: “A B E L”

Just below that, strange symbols were organized something like this (btw: Key: 1 = upwards facing horseshoe shape, 2 = downwards of the same thing.) 2112 21 2 121

This miraculous figure was hovering 5 feet or so above the ground. A hatch that was apparently on the bottom opened. And out of it came a whole squad of Grey aliens (humanoid beings with weird grey heads (hence the nickname), black “clothing”, and big, black eyes that looked like they were made of glass.) They looked around. They saw me. They slowly walked toward me. I, meanwhile, gave them a nasty look. They turned their heads curiously. Then they somehow (even though they didn’t have eyebrows) looked very angry. And then I ran. I looked back only twice. But they were gone. I ran to home. And ever since that day, I have never gone to that area again. Ever.

07:26 Am, June 16, 2015

The next morning, I turned on the news. Local people have nicknamed the Whokai Forest (the place where those adventurers vanished) “Area 13”. I’ve heard of Area 51, but this is taking it to the next level! Could the disappearing people have been abducted? Who knows? But in the meantime, keep an eye out for ABEL… And if grey aliens come out of it, RUN FOR IT. And Don’t. Look. BACK.

 

Fun Learning Under the Sea!

Our Acting Explorers: Under the Sea class (grades K-2) created and sketched their sea creature characters! After making these cool drawings, they sat down to discuss, and brainstorm character names. Miss Sarah's schedule is on the board and keeping everyone looped into the fun with concepts explored in our Teaching Artist training, like the story structure prompts listed in blue ink. You'll also see the acronyms CROW, as students are learning the essential elements of any story: Characters, Relationships, Objectives, and Whereabouts. There is so much "fun-learning" this week in Under the Sea!

American Stage Summer Camp & Teen Summer Institute have begun!

American Stage Summer Camp & Teen Summer Institute have begun! Students in grades K-12 studied comedy this week with our fantastic Teaching Artists: Ricky Wayne, Hunter Brown, Molly Healy, Sarah Pullman-Atanacio, and Ally Thomas. 

In this video, you'll see Miss Molly leading a warm-up activity with her K-2nd grade class, Silly Seuss! She taught this super-fun activity to the entire Teaching Artist team during our summer staff training in last month. She calls it "Hit the Slopes!" Students stretch and then imitate the movement of skiing as they twist from side to side to get their muscles warm for the day as they make bold physical choices. Stayed tuned for updates about the teaching artists and our Summer Camp and Teen Summer Institute!

AMERICAN STAGE

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American Stage Education & Outreach Teaching Artists reach students throughout Tampa Bay with award-winning summer programs and Write On! Pinellas outreach drama clubs and playwriting residencies empowering students to be bolder, wiser and more compassionate onstage and in life. 
 
Our faculty of 25 professional Teaching Artists (TAs) work and train across our outreach and fee-based programs. Each project serves students in grades K-12 with learning objectives that empower artistic, intellectual, & socio-emotional growth. Summer Camp & Teen Institute reaches 600 students/year. Instruction, performance opportunities, and life skills enhance both academic and professional pursuits. Write On! Pinellas outreach residencies focus on playwriting and devised theatre production, occurring in 7 Pinellas County Public Schools throughout each school year.

In order to increase the impact of our TAs, we conduct professional development training with modules on teaching neurodiverse students, cultural sensitivity, and conflict resolution.  Required trainings for TAs help create accessible environments encouraging collaboration among socio-economically diverse classrooms for summer sessions/outreach residencies.

For the first time in the history of American Stage, Write On! Pinellas residencies will be led by TAs trained in inclusion facilitation.  The number of Inclusion Facilitators (IFs) increases from 7 to 9 for summer sessions, creating 2 new jobs for TAs.

Each TA works with the Director of Education/Outreach, creating a unique curriculum for each program they lead.  Before independently leading a class, every TA completes an internal certification program, requiring 24 Assistant-TA classroom hours, and curriculum development training. All TAs receive ongoing training in directing, playwriting, working with special needs, diversity, and conflict resolution.

Each season over 21,000 students and adults participate in over 60 classes/theatre experiences.  50% of TAs have been facilitating our programs for over three years.  

Providing enhanced training modules focused on accessibility & diversity across our TA Programs, ensures safe, supportive, collaborative learning environments for students. By focusing on the inclusion of neurodiverse students and building cultural appreciation, TAs break boundaries of participation. Not only does this elevate the creative, intellectual, and social development of our students, it also raises the artistic and social relevance of student work and performances.

Both 2017 Summer & Fall Teaching Artist trainings are required, and apply to all TAs, Assistant TAs, and IFs who work with us throughout the school year. The professional development training component of this project broadens the impact of our faculty year-round, as TAs lead Write On! Drama Clubs and Playwriting Residencies in the fall and spring semesters, in addition to year-round classes and summer sessions.  Trainings equip TAs through artistic and curriculum development, classroom management, working with students with special needs, and fostering culturally accepting classrooms through positive communication with students, teachers, and parents.

As students take pride in their high-quality artistic accomplishments, they too return to our programs and continue to bring their families to the theatre. This is key to future audience development while fostering an artistic and culturally aware community in Pinellas County.