Next Actors Summer Theatre for Teens
Every summer, a multi-cultural group of 18-20 Milwaukee area teenagers works with professional artists for six weeks. They study music, movement, acting technique and improvisation while collating ideas for an original theatre piece. After creating their musical play based upon their own life experiences and concerns, the students give free performances and talkbacks at community centers and youth organizations in and around Milwaukee. Along with arts education, the program emphasizes collaboration, creativity and mutual respect among peers. Program tuition is completely underwritten; no student is excluded from participation for financial reasons.
Next Actors Recruiting Workshops
In April and May, artist educators conduct approximately 20 workshops in area high schools, to introduce the Next Actors program to potential teen participants. Students are coached in improvisation and collaboration techniques, giving them a glimpse into the workings of the summer program.
Student matinee performances
Next Act presents one special student matinee performance for each of its four mainstage productions. To insure access, deeply-discounted tickets are provided for the attending students. Preparatory and/or follow-up classroom visits from Next Act artists can be arranged upon request.
Special student project
This recent, annual program features a custom-designed, participatory student project inspired by one of the season’s mainstage productions. The overall goal is to provide a select group of students the opportunity and the means to create an artistic response to the Next Act production. Students will see the play in question, and work with artist-educators over the course of 2-4 weeks, developing their project. A final presentation is held at the theatre.
Next Act coordinates a series of five or more post-show “talkbacks” in conjunction with each season production, as well as after readings and special presentations. Directors and actors host many of the informal discussions, with occasional assistance from professionals with specific expertise on issues that arise in the plays. Talkbacks provide the audience with a forum in which to reflect upon the play and the issues portrayed within, and the chance to share their perspectives with others in a welcoming environment.
Next Act also holds a series of talks before performances, intended to enrich the audience’s viewing experience. Free of charge and open to the public, these casual but noteworthy presentations give context to the play with insights on topics like artistic production, design challenges and historical background. Attendees meet at the theatre 45 minutes before show time for these lively give-and-take discussions. Personal Previews are an important tool that helps Next Act forge memorable, strong connections between artists and audience members.