Monday, March 14, 2011

The "Change" I need

So, announcement #2 is on the horizon.

Last week was Announcement #1. In review: I let you all know that I'd be directing one of the brand new musicals in the West Village Musical Festival that goes up in June. And...if that's not big enough...I have the rest of the news.

I wanted to talk to my team before I blogged...hence my pause in telling you all at once.

So, many of you don't know that I have a degree in education. I did seven years of college (insert gasp or off color jokes here) and finished with a Bachelors in Arts with an emphasis in Performance and Directing. I also happened to get my Secondary Education Certification as well. To be honest, I got a 660 on my NTE (National Teachers Exam), which...I've discovered, is rather impressive. Which shocked me cause bloody hell do I suck at multiple choice tests!!!

Anyhoo....let's not loose focus.

I taught both middle and high school down south and left teaching for one reason and one reason only: Political Bullshit. I was a liberal person in a conservative town working at schools where most of the teachers grew up in the area and came back from college to teach in the town they were from. Needless to say, I did not fit in. The kids and the parents adored me and we did some AMAZING work. I was sorry to leave, but things always happen for a reason. When I left I started a theatre company that competed in NYC and we won multiple awards and it's what led to me living here so...see? Reason found.

When I taught high school I directed shows after school, of course. But, I expected a quality of work from my kids that was above other high schools and you know what, I got it. I'm a firm believer in expecting more from a 16 year old than others...cause deep down, they can deliver more on that stage than many teachers push them for. They're at an age where their hormones have them at a very hightened level of emotions...and honestly, that kind of connection makes a good actor/actress if they have the talent, apply it, and are encouraged to push themselves. I say this thinking of when I decided to direct The Crucible. I will never forget the quality of that show...what my kids did. How devestatingly powerful they were. I've seen things in NYC that aren't half as good or filled with adult actors that give as much as those kids did.

Moving on...

As many of you know, public schools are starting to remove arts programs from their curriculum....the jack asses that they are. Kids need the arts and I could ramble for pages and pages as to why but, that's not what this blog is about today. It's about how I plan to try and fix that.

Here in NYC there are no Off Off Broadway Theatre companies for high school kids. If you don't have a theatre program at your high school and you can't afford to attend an arts high school or one of those arts camps that charge thousands of dollars...your public school kid is screwed. No theatre for them!

Well, that's just ridiculous. It makes me angry, to be honest. And because I'm angry and because I have a fire in my heart for teenage kids who are in love with drama...I've decided to do something about it.

Deep we go...

TheatreRats is starting a theatre camp for NYC kids where they will learn to put on a festival from top to bottom. I/We figured, it's what we do best (Five years of a successful Chester Horn Short Play Festival under our belts and all) so we should start small and start there. It'll be both educational as well as fun and at the end we perform six short plays (15 min shows, just like in CHSPF) all put on by the kids. They run the house, the backstage, the set changes, the make-up, the lights...etc. They'll have adults there for help and to watch and so on, but it'll be their job to try and work it on their own as best they can.

We'll do four days a week in the month of July, starting AFTER the 4th of July holiday of course. The price tag isn't clear yet. We as a team need to figure out the curriculum, time needed, space needed, etc. Once we do that we'll know how much it'll cost to do. I'm hoping to be able to offer up 40 spots in the program counting tech and performers and to keep the price tag wicked low. It'll run for 4 weeks (Thursday thru Sunday) with a performance at the end with audience voting for awards (just like we do with the Chester Horn Festival).

There is much more info but I am holding it close to the vest for now. Do know that we have other things thought of and are going to be spending the next year getting ready to do this. The first year of this program will not roll out until 2012. If I'm lucky, as I do my research and talk to people, I might find a school that will offer up free or cheap space in classrooms or an auditorium they don't use in the summer to help us keep the price down. Cause, let's face it, rehearsal rooms are really expensive here in NYC.

What's great is that I've already gotten permission from my boss to take every Friday off in July so as to teach in the afternoon and so all I'll need to do is find a few tech friends of mine to come and teach on Thursdays. Like a day with a fight choreographer, a light designer, a pro make-up artist, etc. We plan to see how this goes and if its received well we'll already have a plan in place for a level 2 for continuing kids the next year as well as a new group for level one and see what happens.

How great would it be if someday, in the next 10 years, that we are strong enough to offer an after school program for kids...a OOBW High School Theatre Company maybe that when high schools totally rape their program of the arts, there's someone there to pick up the slack? I hope we can eventually reach something so amazing...but for now, we're going to start slow...start small. Keep it simple but educational, cheap, and fun.

Keep me and my team in your thoughts and prayers as we work on this in the next year to make it something amazing.

See Mom, Dad...that Education degree you helped me get isn't totally going to go to waste! ;)

Have a good one all!

Tamsin xo

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