Through the Acorn app we’re able to support businesses that make our communities thrive. Everyday we learn more about our activity partners and their inspiring efforts to enrich the wellbeing of children and families. Today, we're featuring Kari Reese, Executive Director of The Growing Stage.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself and the growing stage.
I am Kari Reese, Executive Director for The Growing Stage (TGS). We are a non-profit children's theatre organization in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since 2003, we have been offering a variety of classes for kids ages three to 18. In the fall of 2017, we finally moved into a space of our own, located in Uptown near the intersection of Menaul and Louisiana Boulevards.
2. What motivates you to teach performing arts to kids?
We believe theatre teaches kids so much more than acting, singing, dancing and designing skills. Through the study of performing arts, kids develop the ability to work as part of a team, focus, communicate effectively, empathize with others and appreciate differences. Kids also improve reading comprehension, listening skills, social skills and self-confidence. Most people don't realize how much kids learn in the theatre. We focus heavily on the creative PROCESS and not just on the PRODUCT or performance.
3. Tell us about a favorite moment teaching
My favorite teaching moments are those in which shy kids come out of their shells. It is life-changing for a kid to conquer his or her fears, whether in rehearsal or on stage. The pride on their faces and in their bodies is priceless. Once kids have performed on stage, that science presentation or job interview suddenly gets MUCH easier. Whether or not children continue their involvement in the performing arts, they will be empowered and inspired as they experience new adventures in life.
4. You host Summer Intensives, what are they like? Do you offer scholarships for those who need assistance?
This summer, we are offering eleven weeks of programming. We have morning camps for Tiny Tots (ages 3 - 6). We have one-week acting camps and we have our award-winning Summer Intensives. They are aptly named. Kids (ages 7 & up) spend all day for two or three weeks working as a team on a show. They play theatre games, learn songs and dances, develop characters and design the set. The Intensives culminate with a showcase for family and friends which is usually about an hour long. We tailor scripts to each group of kids, so EVERY KID GETS A SPEAKING PART.
No kid at TGS is ever the 3rd spear-carrier from the left in the back. Our goal is to work together creatively so each kid feels challenged, but not overwhelmed. Summer Intensives are our most popular summer camps and, for the last three years, have been voted in the Top Five Best Summer Camps by readers in the Albuquerque the Magazine Best of the City poll. We offer a limited number of partial scholarships for families in need of financial assistance through our Matthew Naegeli Scholarship Program. Applications can be found on our website.
5. Do you have any new projects or exciting things we should know about?
In addition to our summer workshops for kids, we are producing "How I Became a Pirate, the Musical". Our mainstage shows are all based on literature and are family friendly. What makes us different from other theatre groups is that we produce theatre for young audiences. This means we have adults and kids performing for families. Having adults and kids in the cast raises the quality of entertainment. We think children's theatre should not be painful for parents to watch!
This show is also part of our Ticket to Read Literacy Program. This program provides FREE companion books to children who see shows at TGS. "How I Became a Pirate" runs July 20–29, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Information is available online at www.thegrowingstage.com.
6. How can we learn more?
Discover The Growing Stage and thousands of other classes, workshops and fun days out on Acorn today via this link. Available for iOS and Android. Plus, it's free, and always will be.