Le Petit Theatre has a long tradition of welcoming children through its doors dating back through most of its 102 year history. Whether it was through plays at the Children’s Corner or student matinees during the mainstage season, kids have always been a part of the DNA of this organization.
There is no greater joy than watching a child have their first theatrical experience. By introducing children to theatre at an early age, we help them to develop critical thinking skills, increase their overall school performance and help them develop into sentient and empathetic adults.
In our 18/19 season, we are re-affirming our commitment to education. Not only will we grow our student matinee program to bring more students without access to theatre through our doors, but we will commit to having them onstage, backstage and fully integrated into the artistic process.
On May 29, 2018, educators, artists, and community stakeholders joined Le Petit to support the launch of this vital new program and to honor our biggest champion of education, Kathleen Van Horn. The evening featured performances by Bryan Batt, Sean Patterson, and suprise guest Knox Van Horn and included design demonstrations by Production Manager James Lanius, Technical Director Kyle, Sound Engineer Jamie Doyle, Costume Designer Kaci Thomassie, and Lightboard Operator Colleen Ryan.
LE PETIT'S THEATRICAL WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Louisiana is home to one of the largest entertainment industries in the nation. In 2016, certified spending in Louisiana on film, sound recording, and live entertainment was at $918,000,000. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development reported in their economic impact study of 2017 that the additional impact of this spending resulted in 14,541 jobs and $919MM in new household earnings.
Despite these figures, there is a dearth of technical talent industry-wide to support the entertainment industry. Technical positions, artisans, and crafts people are in high demand as comprehensive training in these areas is in decline. Jobs in technical theatre often go unfilled for months due to a lack of qualified candidates. The Production Managers Forum, a group of leaders in theatrical production management across the nation, has reported that a sharp decline in technical theatre training has created a scarcity of technical theatre talent in the industry that is having a negative impact on producing at many regional theatres.
Le Petit Theatre is undertaking an initiative aimed at training young people for work in these critical areas of technical theatre through the launch of the Theatrical Workforce Development Program. TWDP will work with education and community leaders in New Orleans to identify students who have an interest and passion for these highly skilled jobs and who would benefit from training and apprenticeships as they seek professional jobs in the field.
The Theatrical Workforce Development Program is a hands-on training program where participants will receive training in multiple areas of technical theatre including carpentry, lighting, props, audio, wardrobe, and wig making. The program is open to high school students and recent graduates with a preference given to students in New Orleans who have a demonstrated interest in theatre and the performing arts. The program will match students with a Master Teacher in each respective discipline who will teach them basic skills and best practices demonstrated in the field.
In the fall, we will host two introductory sessions, where students will have the opportunity to meet with theatre professionals and learn about what goes into creating theatre. They will get to pick up a hammer, a paintbrush, a needle and thread and create some small pieces of art that they can take with them. We will provide lunch and answer questions they have about the different disciplines.
Students will have the ability to apply for a Fellowship in the spring semester in one of the following areas: sets/carpentry, lighting/electrics, sound, costume construction, wigs making, or prop design. The students will spend 5-10 hours a week over the course of a semester learning through lecture style preparation and then through hands on experience. Each student will be matched with a mentor who will guide them through their chosen area of focus and help them successfully complete the program. Students will be paid a stipend for the time they spend in the program.
After successfully completing a Fellowship, students who have completed high school will be able to enter a second-year apprentice program where they will be employed on a seasonal basis to put their skills to work on professional theatre productions under the guidance of the Production Manager and the professional theatre crew. These students will attend rehearsals, tech, and performances where they will shadow theatre professionals backstage. They will also work to put their skills into action of a special Youth Production in the spring. At the end of the apprenticeship, LPT will assist graduates of the program in obtaining full time professional work or continuing to develop their skills at the college level.
Not only will the program be free to the selected students, but they will receive a weekly stipend for their participation. Our goal is to train technical theatre professionals in skilled positions so that they are able to earn a living working in the entertainment industry here in New Orleans and beyond.
LE PETIT'S ACTOR TRAINING/YOUNG CONSERVATORY
The Young Conservatory program at Le Petit will provide students from ages 8 to 18 the ability to develop their talents, perform in professional productions, and gain the confidence to succeed—all in a comfortable, creative, and fun environment.
Young Conservatory students will take classes in Voice and Diction, Clowning and Movement, Stagecraft, Stage Presence, and Ensemble Building. Classes will be led by theatre professionals who have a passion for working with young people.
Young Conservatory students will gain confidence, learn teambuilding, and grow their performing skills. Students will have priority access to auditions for the production of A Christmas Carol, our new annual holiday tradition which will feature a Youth Company of 20 kids performing with professional actors on Le Petit’s stage. The Young Conservatory program will be fee based, but Le Petit is committed to providing scholarship to ensure that all qualifying students have access to this important program.
Student matinees provide a unique, up close and personal experience of the productions at Le Petit for hundreds of students each season. Each student matinee is followed by a performance is followed by a talk-back during which the cast interacts with students during a brief Q&A session. Teachers are also provided with a free study guide to help prepare students for the experience of seeing live theatre.
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