Full STEAM Ahead: The Integrated Arts Approach of Studio 9

There are so many incredible schools that are arts-focused. They have figured out a way to provide all the core subjects, but still with a strong emphasis on the arts, which as far as I’m concerned is the way it should be! So many children do not find their place […]

By |July 29th, 2017|Arts Education Interviews, Featured|0 Comments

The Vital Skills Developed From The Stage

The art form I’ve spent the majority of my career working in is theatre (Yes I spell it “re” because I am from South Africa and live in Canada). I taught Musical Theatre for 11 years and I ran Arts Summer Camps for 10 years that had a large performing arts component. It has always been something that has been very near and dear to me. There is something magical that happens when a group of young people come together to put together a production. They grow. They explore. They realize new possibilities for themselves and for their future.
I had the great opportunity to connect with Autumn Kersey, The Executive Director & Founder of Treasure Valley Children’s Theater, to explore how her school in Idaho is developing 21st Century Success Skills through experiences on the stage. Read about the great work Autumn and her team are doing…
Lisa’s Question: What inspired you to get into theater?
Autumn’s Answer: I grew up in a small town in southern Idaho. I did not come from a privileged background. My mother was very young when she had me and she raised me, for the most part, as a single parent. There was not a lot of room in our life for extras like new clothes, eating out or theater tickets.
I was in 4th or 5th grade the year my mom won tickets to see a local production of “Snoopy the Musical”. The production was staged in a small church and performed entirely by local youth. The show was produced by a small team of volunteers who founded Junior Musical Playhouse, JuMP Co., just a year earlier.
I vividly remember sitting on the edge of the hard church pew yearning to join the cast, not because I wanted to be a star, but because I wanted to belong. Everyone on stage looked so happy to be there! They were working together to create something magical. I wanted to be part of that magic.
Not long after, I auditioned for a school play and got the lead. I also started participating in programs with JuMP Co. Of course, I developed aspirations of stardom, but more importantly I found a home. I was accepted by other kids who, despite our socio-economic and religious differences, were a lot like me. I was encouraged by adults who were not family members. I was challenged to try new things and supported even when I failed. As a confused teenager, the theater was my vehicle to explore emotion, to face challenging situations in a safe space, and to build confidence.
I believe my youth theater experiences saved me from poverty, unplanned pregnancy, drug addiction and suicide. Research suggests that children from single-parent families are more likely to experience less healthy lives, are more likely to drop out of school, experience an unplanned pregnancy, have trouble keeping jobs, and suffer other psychological and social consequences.
During the time I was discovering theater, my mom briefly married an abusive, alcoholic man. While the relationship was short-lived, the impact had lasting consequences. I truly believe, if it were not for the theater experiences and the theater family that embraced me – the rides to and from rehearsal, the anonymous donors who paid my participation fees when my mother couldn’t, the directors and teachers who spent extra time with me, and the countless friends. . . I would have fallen victim to the statistics without these interventions.
Lisa’s Question: If you had to pick one or two benefits that young people gain from participating in theater what would you say they are? 
Autumn’s Answer: Only one or two? At Treasure Valley Children’s Theater, we like to say that we are changing the world one theater kid at a time. We know – and the research proves – that a theater arts education exposes youth to a variety of important life and leadership skills that will help them be successful in the future. However, it is the opportunity to learn compassion that we embrace as our secret weapon to change the world.
The stories we tell as theater artists, and the people we work with to tell those stories, are incredibly diverse. A student who may come from a privileged background is suddenly faced with telling the story of a character who has lost everything. Or a young, vibrant student may need to research and study the process of aging to portray the role of someone many years their senior. These are just two examples of how theater teaches empathy. To stand in the shoes of diverse characters and to work with and build trust among diverse actors is to open your heart and mind to the differences that make the world an incredibly complicated place to navigate.
We tell our students that the compassion and empathy skills they are gaining as actors will aid them in becoming incredible, powerful leaders in their community.

Lisa’s Question: Do you get feedback from parents about changes they see in their children? If yes, what do they say?

Autumn’s Answer: Yes! All the time. It is what motivates me to get out of bed every day. The knowledge that we are truly changing lives fills my soul! What are they saying? Well one of the most common themes has to do with increasing their child’s confidence level. Parents will often say that not only do they notice the difference but they will describe how it filters into other aspects of their child’s life. They are now excited to do public speaking, take on bigger leadership roles at school, more helpful around the house, better organized – the examples are endless.  It is these kinds of changes that are most meaningful for myself and our instructors to hear because we know that the skills they are learning are transferring into all aspects of their lives. […]

By |March 28th, 2017|Arts Education Interviews, Featured|0 Comments

The University Promise – Reality Check

The University Promise – Reality Check
My daughter recently began her school career in Junior Kindergarten and since her school is JK-12, I received a newsletter outlining why I should send her to University. It made me laugh, but it also made me think about how many young people I have […]

By |December 3rd, 2013|Featured|2 Comments

Why You Should Stop and Think

Why You Should Stop and Think
I have been thinking a lot about habits of mind lately; patterns of thinking that we all develop over time. Just like physical habits, these habits are engrained in our subconscious and are meant to be automated, to make our lives easier. Generally, we don’t […]

By |November 14th, 2013|Featured|1 Comment

Lisa Interviews Juno Nominee Peter Katz

Lisa Interviews Juno Nominee Peter Katz
As I mentioned last week, I have known Peter Katz since 2008, but I never had the chance to really talk to him in depth about his experiences as a musician. I thought that I would do it in an interview format so I could […]

By |December 3rd, 2012|Featured|4 Comments

Lisa to Interview Juno Nominee…who is it?

Lisa to Interview Juno Nominee…who is it?
The first time I saw Peter Katz perform, he had a room full of 800 adults on the edge of tears. It was at the International Camping Congress in Quebec City in 2008, were he debuted his song, The Camp Song. Peter’s powerful performance […]

By |November 22nd, 2012|Featured|0 Comments

CWMF: Marta Interviews Neil Crone

CWMF: Marta Interviews Neil Crone
 

CONNECTING WITH MY FUTURE (CWMF)

Marta Machado  (14 years old) Interviews Neil Crone, film & TV actor (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Really Me)

READ MARTA’S REFLECTION ON HER EXPERIENCE

“Interviewing Neil Crone was such an amazing opportunity. I still can’t believe I was able to get advice from […]

By |August 11th, 2012|Featured|0 Comments

CWMF: Adrian Interviews Ennis Esmer!

CWMF: Adrian Interviews Ennis Esmer!

CONNECTING WITH MY FUTURE (CWMF)

Adrian Mark  (14 years old) Interviews Ennis Esmer, one of the stars of the TV Show, The Listener.

READ ADRIAN’S REFLECTION ON HIS EXPERIENCE

“Interviewing Ennis Esmer was an absolutely extraordinary experience for me, and getting the opportunity to talk with someone who has […]

By |June 11th, 2012|Featured|0 Comments

CWMF: Nate Interviews James Duncan!

CONNECTING WITH MY FUTURE (CWMF)

Nate Oppel (13 years old) Interviews James Duncan, one of the stars of War Horse.

READ NATE’S REFLECTION ON HIS EXPERIENCE

“After seeing War Horse, I was amazed at the skill it takes to operate the life-sized horse puppet. It was a great show and I’m glad I […]

By |May 30th, 2012|Featured|1 Comment

Special Preview: Nate’s Interview With James Duncan

Special Preview: Nate’s Interview With James Duncan

Enjoy this sneak peek of 13 year-old Nate Oppel’s interview with James Retter Duncan, one of the stars of War Horse! Full interview coming out Wednesday!

 

 

By |May 29th, 2012|Featured|0 Comments