IUP offering Footlight Players Summer Youth Theatre Program this Summer!

INDIANA, Pa. — Footlight Players at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will once again provide a popular summer youth theatre program.

This popular community program will be offered at IUP from June 17 to July 13.

Footlight Players explores creativity through workshops and creating plays and musicals together, providing a nurturing creative environment for performing arts experiences, primarily serving Indiana County, said Brian Jones, IUP professor of theater and dance.

Players must have completed third grade, but no prior experience in the theater is required.
Registration for the program is available online at https://tinyurl.com/footlightplayer.

This summer, the players will explore the natural border between the real and the fantastic. “While theatre is known for its heightened reality and asking audiences to suspend their disbelief, this year we will bend “reality” on its head,” Jones said.

“We will visit the world we know, and the suggestion of a world that may be fantastical. The actor’s journey between real and unreal will play with contemporary concerns and truths of reality through the device of magic or unexplained phenomena and can its influence strengthen the image of one’s own identity, or fracture it? Come join us and find out!”

Footlight begins with a day of auditions and assignments on June 17.  Each player gets their part, and learns about our workshops in performance, creative play, and technical crafts. After four weeks of workshops and rehearsals, with cast and crew ready, public performances will be given on the weekend of July 12 and 13.

Youth theatre offers many opportunities for exploring creativity and learning. While metro regions and cities are rich in summer performing arts programs, rural areas like Indiana County is more limited, Jones said. Jones created Footlight Players in 2004 to fill this gap in opportunity for rural students. The program continues to reduce disparity in arts programming by offering open access to youth in rural populations.

Footlight is supported by professional teaching artists with experience onstage and backstage.

Longtime teaching artist and artistic director Sharen Camille comments, “I appreciate how this camp is distinctive for its balance of high production values and mission to serve every level of preparation.” Camille spent her early career performing national and international tours of musical theatre including the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music.

Players thrive from participating, developing “soft skills” they don’t even realize because for them it’s all play, Jones said, and it also helps participants to develop greater confidence and public speaking skills, empathy, collaboration, creative problem solving, and heightens communication skills.

“Just moving a lot every day has benefits for mental health and focus,” Jones said.

“Each year we have several Players that say they learn more here than in school. While I doubt that’s entirely true, there is something to be said for the persistence of learning by creating something new in a teamwork setting.”

Footlight Players youth theater company was created as an outreach project of the Department of Theater and Dance at IUP in 2004 to provide young people in the Indiana region a program to discover their creativity through theater and musical theater. The program began with a handful of students and staff and steadily grew each year. This year, 19 years later, the program has grown to serving more than 60 youth, interns, musicians, and teaching artists, designers, administrative and production staff and produces full-scale theatrical shows.

A core tenant of the program is inclusion.

“We do not turn away any student who wishes to participate, regardless of experience, financial ability, special needs accommodations or background,” Jones said. “Footlight supports youth who often experience discrimination within their own communities. Footlight is a safe space for young people with varying identities including youth of color, LGBTQIA, and neurodivergent learners.”

Footlight Players strives to be accessible to all. Registration cost is $700 ($600 before May 8) but Jones stressed that the program has never turned away any player for an inability to pay. Players with challenging financial circumstances should contact Jones at 724-357-2969.

The Footlight experience is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.