Company One’s Professional Development for Actors Showcase

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Brian Savage and Lynn Hall in The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn

In mid November, Company One’s Professional Development for Actors (PDA) class had its biannual Showcase. The evening consisted of 29 scenes and monologues performed by the actors and actresses participating in the 10-week program. The purpose of the PDA class is to prepare actors for the audition process and to equip them with material to audition with.

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Dionne Cail in Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle

 

The pieces, thoughtfully selected by instructors Ros Thomas-Clark and Victoria Marsh, were diverse and befitting of the actors performing them. They ranged from Shakespeare’s classic As You Like It to Kirsten Greenidge’s contemporary 103 Within the Veil (first produced by Company One in 2005).

 

Over 100 people attended the Showcase, from friends and family to casting directors and Company One staff, including Artistic Director Shawn LaCount.

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The success of the evening was evident by the energetic atmosphere in the lobby following the performances. In the midst of hugs and congratulations, an immense feeling of pride was felt by everyone.

We at Company One congratulate the actors and actresses in the Fall 2015 PDA class on an incredibly successful evening! We congratulate your growth, your commitment and your talent, and we look forward to seeing you on stages throughout Boston very soon!

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From Left to Right – (1st Row) Danny Sayson, Marcos Valles, Sophia Koevary, Stephen Harrison Jones; (2nd Row) Francisca Da Silveira, Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, Adjovi Koene, Josh Santora, Kerline Desir; (3rd Row) Jay Street, Christopher Gaskell, Dionne Cail, Kitty Drexel, Daniella Seidl Brian Savage, Jacquelyn Weatherbee, Lynn Hall; (Back Row) Tito James, Srin Chakravorty, Aaron Wilson, Ashley Wisneski; (Not Pictured) Gwen Coburn

*Photos Taken by Phyllis Bretholz

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Building Theatrical, Student-Driven Responses to National Events: Part 1

Milord with Stage One Students at USA

In February 2015 a group of students at West Roxbury’s Urban Science Academy (USA) presented a showcase of student-written scenes depicting significant moments in the lives of prominent figures from the American Civil Rights Movement. This kind of production might not be unusual for an American urban high school in February, typically celebrated as Black History Month by schools, institutions, and communities across the country. What is notable about the students’ work at USA is their path to processing, creating, and writing about these events amidst the growing momentum of political and social justice movements, like #BlackLivesMatter, in response to unchecked police brutality and institutionalized racism. Many of the protests and demonstrations that occurred around the world in response to the events in Ferguson and Staten Island were lead by student groups who demanded change from the adult leaders in their community. The presentation at Urban Science Academy illustrates a positive application of theatre arts in a school environment, created by students to address the issues that impact their community.

Urban Science AcademyTheatre students at USA participate in Company One Theatre’s Stage One: In-School program (S1: In-School), which brings theatre education residences to the Boston Public Schools in order to foster young performers’ personal growth and theatrical development. In the 2014 Fall Semester, S1: In-School was coordinating residencies with over 300 elementary, middle, and high school students in six public schools. USA—a high school of roughly 470 students—was founded in 2005 with a focus on science and technology and was designed to prepare students to excel in college and their careers.

James Milord, one of S1: In-School’s Teaching Artists, had instructed theatre through S1: In-SChool at the USA during the previous 2013-2014 school year, so his knowledge of the school community and academic culture was stronger than that of a first-year teaching artist or guest instructor. The Fall 2014 theatre class was relatively small, with just eight regularly attending students, and was fairly representative of the school’s overall racial and ethnic makeup—over 90% of students identify as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Multi-Racial, or Native American.

Milord’s lessons plans for the first quarter at USA were structured around the curriculum goals adopted by all In-School Teaching Artists, which introduces theatre to students as a means towards liberated artistic expression, self-confidence, and cultural awareness. For Milord, the first few weeks of working with a new group are essential for establishing the classroom as a setting for meaningful ensemble work and allowing students to build a strong rapport based on trust and creative self-expression. After introducing the foundations of improvisation, character development, and scene creation, the first quarter for Milord’s students ended in November with a showcase of scenes and monologues, based on personal experiences and narratives. Sharing their work with the school—the first time performing for many of S1: In-School students—proved to be a unifying and positive experience for the entire group.