Sunday, September 21, 2008

Twilight Apprenticeship Company Accepting Applications for Innovative New Program!

The Twilight Theatre is now accepting applications for the new Twilight Apprenticeship Company. Operating on a school-year calendar, the Apprenticeship Company will provide students in grades 6 to 12 opportunities to learn about various aspects of theatre from hands-on involvement, networking with experts at monthly meetings, and working under the tutelage of knowledgeable mentors.

The Apprenticeship Company will operate under the direction of Dana Spears. We recently interviewed Ms. Spears about her vision and plans.

FFP: You came up with the idea for the Twilight Apprenticeship Company -
Where did the idea come from?

DS: I’m a child development specialist and through my work and reading I’ve discovered that preteens and teens need mentoring to help them explore career options and to come to better understand their own gifts and abilities. Just at the age when they need to be thinking about the transition to adulthood, some become stuck in adolescence. Their peers encourage them to see adults as the enemy when they desperately need adult role models in their areas of interest. Athletes sometimes get this kind of mentoring. Creative kids too often do not. I want to be sure that my children and the youth I know are coming in contact with adults who have talent and maturity, and are getting encouragement from them. I’ve met some wonderful adults through The Twilight Theatre who have great insight to offer into the creative process.

FFP: You have acted, directed musicals and workshops, costumed (you and your daughters Anna Kate and Maggie have singlehandedly created Twilight's costume closet). Why the venture into something different?

DS: My professional and volunteer activities have usually been with kids. I’ve been a counselor for children and families for many years and have written a book about creative, ”Dreamer” kids. I’m also a youth ministry volunteer and Cub Scout leader. When my children became interested in theater, I jumped in with them, both to be sure I knew what was going on in their lives and to support their dreams. Like most community theater groups, Twilight offers lots of opportunities to volunteer and perform. The Apprenticeship Company offers me a chance to combine my interest in youth with my love of theater.

FFP: Have you always been interested in theatre?

DS: I was a dancer first. I started acting at about age ten with a children’s theater company. I continued doing musical theater in high school. In youth ministry, I wrote skits and performed all the crazy roles. I’ve been a professor and public speaker in the years since. Twilight got me back onto the stage starting with “Annie.”

FFP: What do you do other than theatre/in your spare time?

DS: As I mentioned, I do a lot of volunteer work. I am in private practice as a counselor with A New Start Counseling Center, and I home school my three children. I like to invest my time in people. I’m good at starting things and helping others. Unfortunately, maintenance tasks like housekeeping tend to fall by the wayside. I also watch a lot of old movies, mostly musicals.

FFP: What areas of theatre do you hope to offer as options for education
and experience?

DS: Youth will learn sound and light, plus choreography, directing, costume and set design, and administration. Adults with specific areas of giftedness will mentor students in these different areas. We aren’t looking for actors only. Students with technical interests won’t be required to act if they prefer to work behind the scenes. For those who are career-minded, the technical jobs are a lot more numerous than the acting jobs. Learning to do both can give an actor a more stable career and variety in their work.

FFP: Tell me about opportunities this program offers for adults.

DS: Adults who want to support community theater through Twilight, but don’t have time to work on show after show, can train students to take over the tasks they’ve been doing. Also, adults with untapped talents can come alongside these kids to help them follow their dreams. A small amount of supervision, encouragement, and accountability is often all that’s needed to help a student step up and succeed. We’ll also need one-time speakers to come in to our monthly meetings and discuss their areas of expertise.

FFP: Why do you think this program is important?

DS: How long do you have? As I’ve already mentioned, individual mentoring is critical in helping students transition to adulthood. Also, theater kids enjoy getting together. As a director, I’ve learned that they want to talk. If they have opportunities to socialize beyond rehearsals (when they need to be quiet) they can be more focused when the curtain goes up. So we’ll have social events and field trips to shows in addition to the monthly meetings. Creative kids often feel alone and weird because they think differently and have different interests that a lot of their peers. They need to learn that they aren’t alone and that’s it can be good to be different. I remember being at a cast party and seeing teens gathered around a piano singing show tunes…not a typical teen party, but a very positive way to spend an evening. I want to help youth see the positive and put aside the competition with one another to work as a team.

FFP: How can students become a part of this program?

DS: Apprentices are accepted based on their application, 1 personal reference, 1 theatre/arts reference, and an interview. The interview is NOT an audition, but an opportunity for applicants to show their enthusiasm, their eagerness to learn, their willingness to listen, and their commitment to the program. Applications and reference forms are available for download at www.TheTwilightTheatre.com/Apprenticeship.html. Due to scheduling difficulties among members of the selection committee, the deadline for applications has been extended to Monday, September 29, 2008. Once the complete application packet is received, applicants will be notified and an interview date and time scheduled.

FFP: Thank you, Dana. We look forward to hearing more as this innovative, worthwhile program takes off.

DS: Thank you, too. We’ll definitely keep you posted.

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