Thursday, April 28, 2016

High school students learn theater skills at Grossmont College's Summer Conservatory

Students in the 2015 Summer Conservatory, which
performed "Cinderella."
High school and college actors, actresses, costume designers and stagehands are preparing to team up once more for the 2016 version of Grossmont College’s Summer Conservatory program, which culminates with a musical adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, Around the World in Eighty Days.

An open casting call is set for May 16.

 “This really is the most incredible of programs,” said Theatre Arts Department Chair Beth Duggan. “The Summer Conservatory provides a valuable opportunity to nurture the artists of tomorrow and enables us to guide those who want to work both on and off the stage.”

The 3rd Annual Summer Conservatory Program enables student performers and technicians to learn what it’s like to work in a professional theater through daytime or evening classes that teach specialized skills. High school students can earn college credit, and the course culminates with 10 performances before a packed Stagehouse Theatre from July 28 through Aug. 6.

This year’s production, entitled “80 Days! A Musical,” is an adaptation of the Jules Verne classic and melds music with comedy. The screenplay was written by Theatre Arts instructor Jeannette Thomas and is being directed by Theatre Arts instructor Brian Rickel.

Auditions for more than 20 roles in the performance will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Monday, May 16. Those auditioning are being asked to prepare a 1-minute monologue, preferably from a theatrical script, and a 16-bar segment of a pop song (students must bring the sheet music with them to the audition). Auditions can be scheduled by calling the Theatre Arts Department at (619) 644-7234.

Auditions are not required for those who want to build costumes or work backstage. Those working backstage will spend the summer course building sets, working on the lighting or crafting props.

Rehearsals start June 13, but high school students who have not wrapped up the spring semester can begin once their high school classes end, Duggan said. Rehearsals generally will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday. Those working backstage will be in class from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

Students who have taken part in previous Summer Conservatory productions praise the program.

“This is giving me an opportunity to learn from college students as well as professors who work in the industry,” said Aimee-Marie Holland, said while taking a break from serving as a stage manager for a production of Cinderella – A New Pop Musical last year. “This is one of the better community college theatre programs I’ve come across. Everyone here encourages you and supports you, no matter what area you want to explore. They’re training us to be able to get jobs from set design to costuming to acting.”

The 2016 Summer Conservatory – which is funded entirely by donations from the community – is but one of several Grossmont College Theatre Arts programs aimed at building interest in the arts among youth around the region. The annual DramaFest, for example, brings together scores of High school theatre students from across the county for a daylong series of acting workshops co-sponsored by the San Diego Educational Theatre Association. More than 1,000 high school students have taken part in DramaFest since it began more than a decade ago.

The Theatre Arts Department also produces an annual tour of San Diego County high schools via the highly-touted `Inside the Actor’s Process,’ a program that aims to expose teens to the finer points of stage performance.

For further information about the 2016 Summer Conservatory, call (619) 644-7234 or visit the Theatre Arts Department page on the Grossmont College website.