By Randy D. Pease, Director of Education
Every June we begin what is simultaneously the most difficult and rewarding time of year in our Education department: our Summer Youth Workshops. Each summer, 70-plus kids take over our building to learn and play.
Our flagship summer program – Summer Conservatory for Youth – enters its 20th year in 2017. This program is truly unique in central Indiana, as it is a full-summer, full-day immersion into the process of creating theatre. Kids spend their day surrounded by actual working professionals in the field, supervised by college students on their own track to an early theatre career. Nowhere else can young people get this kind of access to the knowledge and skills necessary to become tremendous performers.
That’s because our program is hyper-focused on process over product. Students at Summer Conservatory don’t put on a show. Instead, they spend their days honing their ability to harness emotions and make bold choices. As I tell parents often – no student comes to IRT and gets cast as “Tree #2” and spends their whole summer waiting to say their line. All kids play all parts all the time.
Nowhere else can young people get this kind of access to the knowledge and skills necessary to become tremendous performers.
And that focus has paid off. IRT Conservatory alumni have appeared in professional theatres all over Indiana, including right here at IRT. We also have alumni on the road with the national tour of Finding Neverland, on cable shows like FX’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, and even appearing on the Tony Awards broadcast.
But even more important to me as an educator are students like Kathryn. She came to us with virtually no theatre experience and even less desire to be a professional performer. However, over the course of a summer, she blossomed. She took chances. She used her voice in new and powerful ways. This summer, she came back to us. She stands in front of the group, she leads activities. In talking to other students, she shared that in school she looks forward to the opportunity to share in front of her peers because of her increased confidence.
Stories like this are what really drive home the importance of what we do and the importance of access to the arts for all young people. I’m proud to be part of an organization that takes this commitment to young people so seriously, and I’m proud to lead a program that can provide opportunities like this to young people from all over Indiana.
If you are interested in learning more about how your child can get involved in IRT’s Summer Workshops, visit irtlive.com/summer
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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