By Frankie Kujawa
The Iron Crow Theatre’s 2020 Summer Theatre Immersion program recently kicked off to the delight of many young high school-aged students. The one-week virtual theatre intensive is designed to prepare serious high school theatre students, and recent high school graduates, as they pursue a future in the performing arts. Artistic Director, Sean Elias recently chatted us regarding the upcoming experience and why it’s so important for Iron Crow Theatre to pave the way for future artists.
Frankie Kujawa: What do you hope that students gain from this 2020 Summer Theatre Immersion experience?
Sean Elias: There are two main goals that we have for the 2020 Summer Theatre Immersion. First, we want to provide young artists, who are curious about or considering a career in the performing arts, an experience that closely replicates one they would have in advanced conservatory-based training. Our program not only allows students to gain new skills and develop their technique, but it also connects them with professionals in the field, from Baltimore to Broadway. This is something that is all too rare for high school students, whose experience is often limited to their own high school community.
We also want to help each group of students connect with each other in meaningful ways -- laying the foundation of their future professional network. Due to nationwide lockdowns and school closings, students have missed out on almost every opportunity to socialize with their peers. This includes students who may identify as queer or LGBTQ+ and who may be quarantined with unsupportive family members. At the 2020 Summer Theatre Immersion, we strategically hold space for students to develop new friendships and new professional connections, as they synthesize their experiences in tandem with their peers, supported by an affirming, diverse group of professional artists.
Frankie Kujawa: Why is it so important for Iron Crow Theatre to provide an experience such as this for the younger generations?
Sean Elias: We think it’s incredibly important to connect the current generation of professional theatre artists with the next generation of theatre-makers, to ensure access to the opportunities that will allow these young artists the chance to create the world’s next masterpiece.
Many student artists don’t yet feel like they’re invited to the table, either because they don't have the experience they think they should have or they don’t look the way they are told they should look, or sound the way they are told to sound. Through individualized and small group experiences, our program allows the professionals whom these kids look up to the chance to invite each and everyone of them to the industry and to enter in whatever way best serves their talent and their authentic selves.
Frankie Kujawa: Could you describe the process in creating something like this virtually for students in light of the COVID-19 epidemic?
Sean Elias: We’ve been particularly lucky that many of the creators and faculty of this program are also internationally recognized and award-winning educators with experience in making the transition to virtual learning. From these experiences, we had the following takeaways: keep the numbers small (which is why our program is capped at 10 students), make workshops live rather than prerecorded, strategically mix in movement-based activities, make space for socializing and personal connection, and make time for frequent well utilized off-screen breaks to reduce screen fatigue. In the end, we came up with a schedule and curriculum that we think will both challenge and inspire participants as well as reward and energize faculty!
Amidst cancellations of high school, community, and professional theatre programming, we think our program is especially important to help students rekindle their passion for theatre, giving them hope and a newfound motivation for their future as a performance artist.
Frankie Kujawa: How is Iron Crow Theatre preparing for their upcoming season moving forward in the light of COVID-19?
Sean Elias: Iron Crow Theatre is committed to keeping our artists, staff, and volunteers safe. We look forward to Maryland being ready to fully open up, at which point we can feel more comfortable supporting a safe rehearsal process and performances.
For more information, please be sure to visit:
Iron Crow Theatre's Summer Theatre Immersion
About The Iron Crow Theatre Summer Theatre Immersion Program
With only 10 students accepted per week from across the nation, the Iron Crow Summer Theatre Immersion program brings together like-minded and dedicated student artists. In workshops taught live online by Broadway stars, renowned and award-winning industry experts, college professors, and professional Equity artists, students received live training in movement, singing, audition and college prep, performance, text analysis, vocal production, mindfulness and meditation, directing, theatre design and production. Students also benefit from receiving individualized one-on-one private coaching. The week culminates with a panel of theatre professionals and Broadway stars, giving students the chance to interact directly with artists, directors, casting directors, college professors, and theatre makers from Broadway to Baltimore, building the foundation of their future professional network.