It has been a year since the opening of American Stage Theatre Company's full-fledged drama school, offering classes for adults, teens, and kids.
The inaugural fall semester in 2022 proved to be an inspiring experience, and since then, the theatre school has flourished into a vibrant and well-established community space for performers and art students.
"We truly have something for everyone within our drama school," says American Stage Education Director José Avilés. "There’s space to grow into a new skill or just be in the kind of environment that allows you to let loose. I’ve enjoyed, more than anything, seeing it grow."
Read on to discover our favorite three classes. Do you fit into any of these categories?
For the Aspiring Actor- Through the Lens: Acting for the Camera
Ages 18 and up
Actor and teacher Cranston Cumberbatch doesn’t pull out the camera on the first day of class.
But after the first introductions, video equipment is an important aspect of American Stage’s Through the Lens: Acting for the Camera class.
Hosted in the theatre, it’s easy to imagine the many differences between acting for the stage and acting for the camera.
"It’s a lot of face work with a lot of tight shots," Cumberbatch says. "These moments that we’re acting in really happened somewhere, and you have to portray that with intentionality."
Through a mix of scenes, partner work, shooting at various local locations, and powerful deliveries, each class creates an entire short film from scratch.
That’s right, starving artists, you’ll have a reel to add to your portfolio at the end of the class.
"Auditioning is a tough process to go through. You want a role so badly, and you really get into it," Cumberbatch says. "I hope to give my students some experience with that without the pressure."
No experience is needed.
For the Kid Who Loves to Play- Sing & Dance Along! Kids Musical Theatre
Ages 5-7 years old
On Saturdays during each semester, the American Stage lobby comes alive.
Young performers ages 5-7 get the chance to learn the basics of dancing and singing as an ensemble. Singing along to "Frozen" and "Encanto" is one thing, but learning to direct that joy into an expression of art? It’s priceless.
"It’s fun for the kids, but it’s also good for them at the same time," says American Stage Education Director José Avilés. "They learn to articulate, to work together, and to project their voices. It’s a huge confidence builder."
American Stage instructors play games and hold mini-competitions to build into the final musical showcase.
One second, the kids may be practicing their listening skills with a form of musical theatre "Simon Says", and the next, they may be working on the synchronized dance steps to a Disney song.
For Teens Who Want to Laugh-Teen Comedy Club: Improv for Teens
Ages 13-17 years old
The first rule of improv?
Don’t come in with expectations. Also, remember "yes, and."
American Stage teaching artist Davina Reed has been leading improv classes at the theatre since 2018, even before the full-scale drama school launched.
This semester, she’s leading the teen improv course. And she’s bringing the same combination of script-less spontaneity and storytelling that she fosters in the adult classes.
"I would say that everyone has something to contribute, even if you’re not the most outgoing person in the room," Reed says. "I love seeing people improvise and just be able to be free and not worry about critique."
Rather than another class for teens, improv classes are like having a weekend outlet to riff and connect with other young artists.
"I would say improv is storytelling on its feet," Reed says.
One moment, teens are creating a narrative from what was previously nothing; the next, they’re learning about themselves.