It’s a rite of passage during these sun-drenched May days, the end of the school year right around the corner: thousands of kids, marking the days off a calendar and looking ahead to summer. The beach. Camping. Marathon sessions of Fortnite.
No more teachers, no more books.
But students who aspire to a career on the stage – or just enjoy the experience of dramatic theater – see things a little differently. Their parents do, too.
That’s because the South Carolina School of the Arts' Summer Repertory Theatre began a three-week session on June 11 during which high school students worked with professionals and students from the South Carolina School of the Arts at AU to stage two full-length plays while receiving advanced training and collegiate credit.
That’s music to Greg Middleton’s ears. A Powdersville High School student, Greg is returning for his second season this summer.
“AU Rep is a program that has substantially increased my confidence in how I approach new characters and bring them to life as well as teaching me the concept of creating and maintaining the flow of energy on stage,” he said.
The program itself has been in existence for six years and is a great training-ground for students looking to take their dramatic skills to the next level. Polly Medford, the mother of a former participant, said it’s exciting to see the students’ growth.
“I have watched since its inception these high school students improve not just their acting skills but their overall understanding and appreciation for everything on and around the stage. What they do and learn in a short amount of time will blow your mind.”
The theme of the 2018 season is “Mischief and Mayhem,” reflected in the two play selections being produced this year: “Twelfth Night,” by William Shakespeare, and “The Jungle Book,” by Rudyard Kipling. The four performances are presented in the Belk Theatre of AU’s Rainey Fine Arts Center.
Dates for AU Repertory Theatre are June 11-15, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; June 18-22, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and June 25-30, from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m.
It’s important to note that participants will delve into all aspects of theater production and not just acting itself. Stage production, costume design, writing – everything is covered.
Anna Caroline McGuinn is another AU Rep student who relishes the opportunity.
"I cannot believe how much my life has changed because of this amazing program,” she said. “I have made so many connections with teachers and mentors that truly care about my passion for acting. It's not only fun, but it teaches work ethic and techniques you can use in the long run. Overall, AU Rep is the best summer activity.”
The highly regarded and well-received shows are open to the public. Tickets for "Twelfth Night" and "The Jungle Book" are available online. Tickets can be purchased for $10 by calling the AU Box Office at 864-231-2125, or securely online using the links above.