Summertime at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre is a busy, creative season, due to the hundreds of children and adults who enroll in the Walnut Street Theatre School. This historic playhouse is alive and bustling with theatre students of all ages and levels of experience who've found just the right class to spark their imaginations and develop their artistic skills.
Summer sessions for adults are offered from May 27 through August 22; Camp Walnut, for youths between the ages of 8 and 18, is offered from July 7 through August 5. Both sessions are under the supervision of Theatre School Director William Roudebush and are taught by professional theatre experts who work in the industry.
Adult classes feature three separate divisions, Discovery, Development and Master's, based on a student's level of experience. The Discovery Division is custom-made for those eager to develop hidden talents that may lead to a career in the theatre, or for those who simply want to acquire more self-confidence and improve communication skills.
The Discovery Division classes (open enrollment) include: Introduction to Acting, Technique and Scene Study, Introduction to Improvisation, Mask Performance and Physical Acting, Beginning Playwriting, Beginning Commercial Acting, Voice and Speech and Acting for the Camera.
The Development Division is geared toward maximizing the potential of those already working on a career in the theatre and developing competitive industry skills. The Development Division (admission by audition or permission of the instructor) classes include: Acting Professional, Movement for Actors, Improvisation and Scene Study, The Full-Length Play, Singing for the Musical Theatre, Commercial Acting, Voice and Speech, Audition Technique/Self-Marketing, Acting Shakespeare and The Solo Show (musical; no audition is required).
The Master's Division is designed for experienced performers who acknowledge the continual need to learn. This division provides unique opportunities for professional growth with leaders of the industry and renowned guest artists. Usually offered only during the spring and fall semesters, two Master's Division classes will be offered this summer: Advanced Scene Study with Carla Belver and The Music Theatre Studio with Forrest McClendon.
Camp Walnut is organized into Discovery and Development Divisions similar in focus to those in the adult programs, and a Performance Division as well. In the Performance Division (admission by audition) students will produce a full-scale musical in a professional rehearsal environment.
Another special feature of Camp Walnut is "Camp Warm-Up," which allows children to arrive an hour early, at 9 a.m., to learn warm-up techniques and exercises so they can make the most of their day at the Walnut.
Walnut Street Theatre School continues to be the most popular and vital theatre training ground in the Delaware Valley. Last year, over 1,300 students were enrolled here, working on the fulfillment of their artistic pursuits within the walls of America's oldest theatre. And, Camp Walnut is the most innovative and comprehensive summer theatre arts program in the area. Only the Walnut can offer the personnel and resources of one of the most successful regional theatres in the world to its Theatre School students.
Enrollment for all summer programs is under way now, so reserve your space early for an unforgettable summer! For information, call (215) 574-3550, ext. 510.
-- By Ira Kamens