Magazine article Stage Directions

Interlochen's Well-Rounded Approach

Magazine article Stage Directions

Interlochen's Well-Rounded Approach

Article excerpt

"I believe that our Design & Production major lies right at the heart of what we hope to accomplish at Interlochen Arts Academy- to train a complete theatre artist," explains William Church, the Director of Theatre at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He's speaking about the Design & Production concentration which is part of the Theatre Arts major at the Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding high school that provides pre-professional training. Church, acknowledges that the majority of their Theatre Arts majors at the Academy are performers but he believes, "It is their exposure to all aspects of the world of theatre that round them out into complete, well-educated artists. For our Design & Production majors, they have the unique opportunity to collaborate with our faculty directors as designers or stage managers. These students, once they have received training and proven their skill in the classroom, have an equal artistic voice and become key collaborators in the creative process. It is vitally important that all young theatre artists see the totality of all that goes into creating a successful production, and the inclusion of a Design & Production major at Interlochen helps us accomplish that goal."

Bridget Williams, the school's Instructor of Design and Production, brings a professional approach to her teaching. She comes from a freelance career as a lighting designer and stage manager, having worked with Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington, IN, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indiana Festival Theatre, Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater, The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington, Children's Theatre of Madison, Miller Auditorium, and the Kalamazoo State Theatre.

Space to Learn

Williams takes full advantage of Interlochen's state-of-the-art facilities to teach students stagecraft and design in a program that includes hands-on experience in stage management, as well as scenic, lighting, costume, and sound design. Students not only study design and production but have the opportunity to shadow, work on and even assist professional designers and theater artisans. These opportunities are possible because of the full slate of professional work happening on the campus as part of Interlochen's professional producing organization, Interlochen Presents, taking place during the academic year. The Harvey Theatre Complex, home to the Academy theatre program, is a modern theatre facility. The 175-seat threequarter thrust theatre has tension-wire grid above the entire space to accommodate a variety of rigging and lighting arrangements, which allows the space to be reconfigured. The Complex also includes classrooms, a scene shop, offices, dressing rooms, movement rooms, and rehearsal space. It is also houses the Mallory Costume Shop, which consists of a 2,825 square-foot climate controlled storage room (for the 15,000-piece collection) and a 4,500-square-foot shop boasting two walls of windows for natural light.

"Our primary space is the Harvey Theatre and it has a pretty large inventory of ETC Source Fours and a nice range of newer gear for the students to utilize in class and for production needs," describes Williams. "We also have a smaller space, a black box space, and then there's 1,000-seat Corson Auditorium. We do larger productions there, we are doing Sweeney Todd in that space this spring."

The students get to work in the various theaters and both shops to learn new technology as well. "The scene shop has a 3D printer and a laser cutter and we have projects planned later this semester for my students to work with them," notes Williams. "With professional productions going on throughout the year the students have the chance to learn from not only myself but also the other designers and stage managers working on the shows plus they can work side by side with the talented production staff in both the costume and the scene shop. …

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