Now five seasons in the making, the Stage Adventures series is a scion of the ever-improving Sioux Empire Community Theatre. It’s no coincidence that this is same length of time in which Patrick Pope has been the Producing Artistic Director for SECT.
I sat down with Pope last week to discuss SECT’s current production of The Giver, enjoy some pizza, and talk about what’s next for youth theatre education in Sioux Falls.
As Pope explained, SECT produces two shows each season (one musical + one straight play) for the purpose of “planting the seeds” of our next generation of actors. If you’ve never been to one of their Stage Adventure productions, what you’ve been missing is the opportunity to see talented young actors playing the roles of protagonists alongside seasoned adult actors. Age appropriate casting is critical says Pope.
In addition to these two in-season productions, which Pope sees expanding to three productions in the next five years, the Sioux Empire Community Theatre also provides two musical theatre summer camp intensives. This summer they will be offering Seussical: The Musical Jr for children grades 1–8, followed by Hairspray for youth grades 6–12. More information about these summer camps can be found on their website.
And if that wasn’t enough (for Pope it’s most definitely NOT enough), SECT will soon embark on a new educational project aimed at providing more formal training to young actors with its own staff, as well as guest instructors from the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.
Student actors will have the option to take a class in one of four disciplines: Acting, Movement, Voice, and Technical Theatre. Within each discipline, SECT will offer up to five levels of study (Acting 1 – 5, and so on). The only catch, students won’t be able to advance to the third level of a given discipline without taking classes in the other disciplines. The same goes for the fifth level of each discipline.
Pope explains that this gatekeeper approach is intended to promote a well-rounded experience for the young actor. Classes will be approximately 90 minutes in length, take place on Saturdays, and run year round with each class lasting one season (Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer).
Pope is planning a special bonus for students completing all twenty classes: a secret “Ensemble” designation and access to a new set of classes focusing on the craft of playwriting. Because SECT will be collaborating with guest instructors from the university, Pope hopes work out a small scholarship opportunity for those students reaching the “Ensemble” level designation.
Stay tuned to the Sioux Empire Community Theatre website for more details of this exciting opportunity.