"I learned — from a first-person point of view — the massive power of teaching, both the effect on the student and the effect on me," said actor-singer-songwriter Nick Blaemire following his return from The Performing Arts Project's second annual summer intensive, held on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. "[The students would] do something, and I'd realize, 'Oh my God, I do that as an actor, so I have to watch you now and make sure you put your objective at the forefront of your mind, because I forget that, too.' I get caught up in trying to 'be good' and trying to 'do stuff right,' but [TPAP artistic director] Jonathan [Bernstein]'s emphasis on process [is] about de-mystifying this art and trying to be a human."
Blaemire, a performer in Broadway's Godspell and Cry-Baby and the composer of Glory Days, is among the faculty at The Performing Arts Project, now entering its third year and gearing up for its annual auditions (held in January and February 2014), where roughly 1,000 high school and college-aged performers tryout for 100 spots in the yearly summer program.
The intensive, led by TPAP artistic director Jonathan Bernstein and associate artistic director Neil Patrick Stewart, is a 21-day program that trains the students in acting, dancing and singing, but also encourages the artists to create the art that they aim to be a part of.
In the audition room — aside from a one-minute monologue and a song — students are asked to prepare original material such as a movement piece, rap, painting, haiku, speech, impression, instrumental performance, original song or monologue.
Gavin Creel, Tony-nominated for his performances in Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie, believes that TPAP "engages the performer in a way that other programs don't. It deals with — and teaches — technique building and appreciation for the art form, and, through direct example in the professionals working with the students, shows how a trust and belief in creating honest, spiritually connected work is the only way to become a great artist."
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