The Scene: Theatre in Chicago and Latin

Margie Muller Staff Writer Theatre never stops for a Latin thespian. Even after the plays are finished for the year, there’s always unbounded activity outside school. Many motivated actors go beyond the learning at Latin and integrate themselves into the greater theatre community of Chicago and beyond. Second City has become a popular venue for Latin students. Junior Kristen Garrett spends four and a half hours every weekend working on improvisation (which seems incredible considering students’ hectic schedules), as well as the average three hours of rehearsal after school. The extra hours are worth it, according to Kristen, who says improvisation has taught her “to find the truth of the scene because that’s where the comedy comes from.” Second city has also become an opportunity to connect with other Latin students. Kristen, sophomore Cat Sharp, and senior James Thurm are participating in the teen ensemble Mocktail in “Royal Jelly,” a long form improv show. Their first performance is April 22 at Stage 773. Diverging from performance, some students, like sophomore Jake Schlossberg, are part of different arts councils. Jake, as part of the Goodman Youth Arts Council, focuses on reaching out toward schools that aren’t fortunate enough to have strong arts programs. He participates because there is “a level of professionalism that really isn’t seen in high school theatre.” Latin theatre does maintain a high standard, but it’s nothing like working with the professionals. Several Latin graduates have been part of Steppenwolf’s Young Adult council as well. These councils have shown that in theatre, it is increasingly important to be well rounded, a skill important to Latin and its students. As the school year ends, some of these classes start to wind down to a halt for break. Theatre students don’t rest, though, as they are able to participate in a wide variety of theatre intensives. Summer is the prime time for training and performances. Latin students have made connections with theatres across the city, including the Goodman, Victory Gardens, and Lookingglass. However, it is necessary to look beyond renowned theatres and the heart of the city. One of the most preeminent summer workshops takes place at Northwestern University. Northwestern’s Summer Theatre program, commonly called Cherubs, has become almost a rite of passage for Latin thespians truly serious about pursuing a career in theatre. Nick Lehmann, a Cherubs alumnus, raved about the ability “to take classes in improv, auditioning, playwriting, text analysis, and performance theory, on top of a million other things.” Nick’s decision to apply came from hearing so often about the program and his want expand his knowledge “of different aspects and techniques used in theatre and also because I heard it was so much fun.” Northwestern’s program gave him “a broader understanding of the art” which he was able to apply to his Latin experience. Similarly, as summer rapidly approaches, a few people in the rising senior class have applied and been accepted to the Cherubs program, including Kristen Garrett, previously mentioned. (Note from the Editors: so has Margie herself!) While she applied because of all the praise previous participants gave it, she also said, “Seven straight weeks of theatre is going to help inform me on what I want to do in college.” Northwestern’s program seeks to train actors with a strong theatrical background, and Latin has prepared applicants extremely well for that. Not only does Northwestern offer a precollege program, but so do many others, including Indiana University, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon. The career decision process is becoming increasingly important at an earlier age and most colleges have been picking up on this, not only in the arts, but also in academics. Even though it can be seen as an intense process, Latin students continue to apply to experience something to make their summers extraordinarily different. While all thespians love theatre at Latin and all the opportunities it offers, it has almost become the norm to participate in out of school activities, whether they be classes, shows, or councils. The theatre scene of Chicago has become a chief supplement to many students and will probably grow even more in the future. What students learn is immediately brought back to Latin to enhance the theatre department and make sure that the Latin Thespian’s work is truly never done.]]>