AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHT: WORDS ARE SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH

There are many forms of storytelling.  Theatre brings stories to life, right before your eyes in a magical and unique way that no other medium can claim.  During this session of camp, middle school students tackled a specific form of theatrical storytelling:  Musical Theatre!  Musicals can be exciting spectacles, filled with elaborate sets and costumes, not to mention Broadway-sized budgets. However, this session, students were asked to use the music to tell a story and express a message of hope and kindness.  In this musical, the characters sing because words are simply not enough!  This session, students focused carefully on learning complicated music and harmonies, full-scale dance numbers and how to bring truthful, multi-dimensional characters to the stage.  They explored why their characters sing and dance, instead of simply speaking.  They learned how music and movement could create a mood. They worked to use their bodies, voices, minds and imaginations to create their own characters, individual to them and their own, unique interpretations.

These young artists were able to make magic happen, with help from a Creative Pinellas grant. Their friends and families were able to come and see this amazing performance of Bugsy Malone Jr. at the beautiful Palladium Theatre, and for a night, even without the Broadway-sized budgets, we saw Broadway-sized performances. 

AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHT: TEEN SUMMER INSTITUTE MUSICAL, BYE BYE BIRDIE

Scott Cooper, Director of our Teen Summer Institute musical, BYE BYE BIRDIE, reflects on the production:

"This was my 5th production of Bye Bye Birdie, and it was one of my favorite.  Seeing these eager students learn about the 1950’s, Elvis and the power of celebrity was a great experience. They worked diligently as individuals and as an ensemble everyday to learn songs, lines, and choreography. These young artists raised themselves to the level of our professional process. They amazed me with their dedication to what I thought was “just an old show”, and showed me that all shows can be new, exciting, and leave a relevant impression on the audience."

AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The Teaching Artist Process

This three-week program will be remembered fondly. The students took such a hilarious journey into their imaginations! Take a peak into lead teaching artist, Amy Swanson's, overall goals for this class...

Theatre Arts/Dance/Music Skills:

Students will…

Acquire basic performance skills such as facing the audience, using a full voice, knowing the areas of the stage.

Be comfortable being expressive and making strong choices vocally and physically.

Explore being someone or something different (i.e. a Muppet) through physical movement and vocal choices.

Learn to identify characters, relationships, objectives, and whereabouts (CROW) in a story.

Understand and Apply the Three F’s of acting: be fearless, be focused, be flexible

Explore and UNDERSTAND the “actor’s tools”: body, voice, mind, and imagination

Demonstrate personal responsibility and commitment to a collaborative process.


Life Learning Skills:

Students will…

Listen to and follow directions.

Analyze and Express personal emotions in a constructive way.

Develop confidence in trusting one’s own instincts.

Encourage and Support others.

Share and Cooperate with peers.

Respect peers and their opinions.

AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHTS: SUPERHEROES AT AMERICAN STAGE

Jaye Sheldon, the director of our closing Teen Summer Institute session: SUPERHEROES - enhanced the experience with a lovely director's note in the program, and a poignant video about the process:

“No matter how old you get, remember to play.” – Viola Spolin (creator of Second City Improv curriculum)

How are actors like superheroes?

Superheroes seem to be able to notice what’s going on around them, so that they can swoop in at exactly the right moment. Through developing first an awareness of ourselves, and then shifting that focus to a soft external focus, we are able to use our periphery to see more of the environment around us. This allows us to tune into the movements and intentions of the whole ensemble.

Superheroes are fearless. Actors need to develop fearlessness in order to take risks and allow intuition to take over.  As we move out of our heads and into the unknown, we use our imaginations to allow us to become our characters, and to make the imaginary world of the play to become real.

Superheroes are focused. Focus is vital to creating believable characters who truly respond to what is happening onstage.

Superheroes stand up for those without a voice.  They step in and do what’s right.

Actors use theater to represent characters and tell stories that help audiences be aware of the experiences of others, bringing awareness to issues facing our communities.

It has been my sincere pleasure to work with these remarkable young actors as they dared to play.

Why Summer Camp is Important?

Summer Camp is special to us at American Stage, because of the look of pride and accomplishment on a child's face when they greet their parent after the Final Sharing. Thank you to our wonderful families who believe that theatre empowers us all to be bolder, wiser, and more compassionate on stage and in life. (And thank you to our awesome photographer, Dave Brozik, for capturing beautiful shots on and off stage too!) 

AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHTS: MUPPET MAYHEM! - THE MUSICAL

The K-2 class had a blast over the past three weeks as we prepared to present our musical, Muppet Mayhem!  During this session, we explored the essentials of acting, acting for musical theatre, and for collaborating as an ensemble. They analyzed the different elements of a story (characters, relationships, objectives, and whereabouts), as well as important tools for actors (body, voice, mind, imagination). Students focused on being an ensemble so their music, choreography and acting would be clear and interesting for the audience. And BONUS!: They designed and crafted their own Muppets, which allowed them to look at characters and theatre-making as a visual art as well.  We are so excited for you to see all that we have accomplish! 

American Stage Highlights: Theatre in Motion session

This clip is from our 6th-8th grade Theatre in Motion session, led by Sarah Pullman-Atanacio. It is an example of the style of devised work we're doing more of with our new [SPARK] programs, as well as our outreach programs in schools. It's a big change in perspective of what theatre can be, how it can impact young people, and how young people can influence their community through collaboration. 

Many parents and audience members were impacted by this performance. A 3rd-5th grader student's mother summed it up beautifully:

"I want to thank the teacher who had the strength and courage to guide her classroom of girls into something beautiful and the students for creating true art. There truly are not enough words to say how moved I was as a woman, mom, sister and daughter. There are strong voices on that stage and sitting on the sidelines. Keep doing what you do and be loud. Everyone should hear. I am so thankful my daughter watched even if her 9yr old ears weren't quite sure just what she was absorbing. I can only hope some small part will stay with her when she someday faces any of those challenges. When that day comes she will rise up and be heard.
Thank you again for being brave and honest."

AMERICAN STAGE HIGHLIGHT: MUSICAL THEATRE SHOWCASE

Our musical theatre showcase was a HIT last week! This is all thanks to support from Creative Pinellas, The Palladium Theatre, our amazing teachers, theatre artists, and dedicated students!  The Teen Summer Institute performed a touching and hilarious BYE BYE BIRDIE (Young Performer's Edition), while the 6th-8th graders debuted the first musical we've produced just for this age group: BUGSY MALONE, JR. The 3rd-5th graders performed HOW TO BE A PIRATE with gusto and attitude, and the K-2nd graders made us all laugh and cry with MUPPET MAYHEM. All of the artists involved (young and old) are so proud of these collaborations! 

Thank you to the brilliant artists who brought this work to life, and inspired so many young people: Scott Cooper, William Bryant, Domenic Bisesti, Emily Matthews, Katie Castonguay, Sarah Pullman-Atanacio, Hunter James Brown, Jamie Jones, Lauren Field, Andrew Street, Amy Swanson, Molly Healy, Jill Castle, Jerid Fox, Timon Brown, and Robert Creedon.

AMERICAN STAGE 2016 SUMMER CAMP EXPLORES MUPPET MAYHEM WITH JERID FOX

It’s week two of our Muppet Mayhem musical theatre session with K-2nd graders! Students have been exploring collaboration, ensemble movement, vocal technique, and visual storytelling to prepare for their performance of a Muppet Mayhem medley on Thursday, July 21st at 5pm at the Palladium.

We also had a special surprise visit from Mr. Jerid Fox, Production Manager, Props Master, and puppeteer extraordinaire! Jerid brought in the puppet of Stuart Little he created for our School Tour production a few years ago. Students discovered character work and movement through puppetry by observing Jerid’s technique. He even taught our young artists how to use and maneuver their bodies to bring a puppet to life.

We are so excited to apply what they learned from Mr. Jerid as we turn our focus to crafting and rehearsing with our own puppets! As one student wrote in a card to Jerid: “Dear Mr. Jerid: Thank you for telling us how to move our puppet hands!”

NEWS FROM A SUMMER CAMP TEACHING ARTIST

Here is a note from one of our teaching artists:

 I learned the game at my alma mater, Flint Youth Theatre from a Teaching Artist named Jason Hurley.  He was brilliant at physical comedy and loved bringing in creative warmup games for us.  It was always one of my favorites and I use it in the classroom for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it's fun and catchy!  Students of all ages love it for its song-song nature and the countdown at the end.  Additionally, it gets the body and voice working together, it promotes focus and listening while including everyone! Students learn to get outside their heads during the game, simply repeating sounds and movements. They can't worry about looking or sounding silly because I'm already being silly before them and they cannot predict what I'll do next.  They are unconsciously connecting their movements to sounds and changing their vocal dynamics based on the movement.  This exercise never fails to engage everyone!

-Sarah Pullman-Atanacio, Teaching Artist

American Stage

American Stage Education Summer Programs - The ‘Rapid Returns’ Grant will enhance the quality of the summer program at American Stage by adding additional class instructors, dedicated designers and facilitators to bring their student to teacher ratio to 8 to 1, will double the session in length, and will provide students access to the newest tools and tactics in artistry and classroom experience.