The Geography of Learning

Special Features   The Geography of Learning


Walnut Street Theatre School, founded by Executive Director Bernard Havard in 1984, has been the Philadelphia area's most popular theatre school for over 10 years. Under its dynamic director, William Roudebush, the school has embarked on its second decade, with exciting new programs.

The Theatre School emphasis is still on professional training by professionals. But courses have been developed in three new divisions: Discovery, Development and Masters. This makes it easier - and more rewarding - for students of all ages to receive the level of education they desire.
The Masters Division is the Walnut's commitment to the enrichment of local professional theatre artists, said Roudebush. "We're bringing the teachers here, so local performers don't always have to travel to New York for classes," he said. Celebrity guest artists for last semester's Master classes included popular TV actor David Canary and Austin Pendleton. Actor Sam Waterson is scheduled to conduct a class this semester, as are playwrights Herb Gardner and John Ford Noonan.
Roudebush also described the newly organized Discovery and Development Division. Discovery classes are introductory and exploratory, for students with very little or no experience in theatre. Enrollment is open to all who apply. The Development Division is for those already working on a career in the theatre and want to develop competitive industry skills. An audition is required for acceptance in this division.

The Theatre School's Outreach Program hit the road early in December, visiting area schools and introducing students to the excitement of live theatre.
The five-member interracial Outreach troupe plans to perform for 30,000 Delaware Valley youths this season. "Sharing theatre is a rewarding and enriching experience both for the audience and actors," Roudebush remarked. This year's Outreach is designed to impact students while offering teachers and administrators a wide variety of programs that can be specifically designed to meet their individual curriculum needs.
The 1995-96 troupe consists of David Bardeen, Aaron Cromie, Robyn Kaminer, Felecia Myers and Abigail Ramsey.
Schools can choose from a wonderful selection of great theatre pieces which emphasizes student interaction. Each program represents an aspect of theatre and life. For grades K through five, the Outreach actors present "Theatre Is: Live and Interactive," using Brian Way's The Bell. The actors tell the story by directly involving their young audiences in every detail of the action.
For grades six through 12, there are a variety of presentations. The central theme is "Theatre is..." Schools can complete the phrase by selecting two of the following: Imagination, Chemistry, Style, Adventure, Conflict, Magic, Romance, Questions, Playwriting, Family and Illusion. The actors use a blend of music, contemporary writing and classical pieces to support their interactive presentations.

The Theatre School's Professional Apprentice Program is in full swing. The program provides a training ground for young artists to gain hands-on experience, working alongside professionals. The program provides nine months of intensive education and work experience in one of several aspects of theatre operation: production, acting, development, marketing, subscriptions, telemarketing literary management and stage management.
For information on any of the above Theatre School programs, call 215/574-3550, ext. 510.-- By Ira Kamens

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