A fond memory I have of elementary school was that we had the Arts incorporated into our daily school activities. We would paint, sculpt, sing, dance, and even listen to our teacher play the piano or guitar. For the most part, school was fun for me, and this made it even more fun. When I got into education some 18 years ago, I was a bit shocked to learn that all of these things were pretty much taken out of school. More and more schools were doing away with art or music class. No more school plays or winter performances. It was all learning, and no fun. (I’m being a bit facetious here.) Many more years went by, and somehow or another I came across what would end up being my daughter’s (and now son’s) school. The school is a magnet school, and you get in by lottery-it’s totally random. What initially attracted me to this school was that the Arts were (are) considered part of the academics. This means that students learn music, art, and theater from the very beginning, and these are incorporated into the curriculum. I knew that this was where I wanted my kids to go and receive a well rounded education.
When my daughter was in 6th grade, I decided to homeschool her. While in public school, she fell in love with the theater, so I didn’t quite know what to do for her since I was going to homeschool her. Well, it turns out there are many, many options! I wrote about our first experience last summer, and since then, I’ve only seen growth in my daughter. Theater has been such a wonderful outlet for her. She’s been part of an ensemble for 6 shows, and she loves it! The funny thing about this whole experience is that my daughter is a shy, quiet person. Upon meeting her, you’d never guess that she loves to be part of the performing arts. This is why I feel so passionately about the theater.
A handful of months back I was introduced to Shine! Theatre by a friend. Her children were involved with performing Island of the Blue Dolphins. Shine is one of the Central Valley’s award winning youth theatres. They are dedicated to arts education, which I truly love and appreciate. The driving force of the company is process over product. Those who participate will all be part of the production process. That means it might be behind the scenes, helping with lights or costumes. Or perhaps it would be part of the set design. Students even work the front of the house. Shine helps your child to see the big picture and they are taught every aspect of the theatre business. Students learn text, study it for meaning and nuance, and then perform it. They are taught respect for others, for the author, and for the stage. It’s more than just putting on a play, it’s learning about the art of theatre.
One parent, Shelly Coleman, wanted to share about her son’s (Alex-age 7) experience with Shine!
“Wow. I’m not sure where to start! I like that Shine is respectful of kids’ time, they value the education process in everything they do. They’re more interested in educating kids on the process of putting on a production than simply memorizing lines and hitting marks. And they manage to do all this whole still holding the kids responsible and expecting them to meet their commitments. One more thing. I always, always have a smiling child after rehearsals.”
If you’d like for your child to participate there are many, many options available. They have Conservatory Classes starting at the end of April. Conservatory consists of 3 blocks-acting, voice, and dance, which offers lessons at an affordable rate for children ages 8-17. (Check out their Facebook page for up to date information.)
There are also auditions this weekend for their upcoming show, School House Rock, Live!
Auditions are held at Valley Arts and Science Academy (VASA) from 10am-12pm on Saturday, the 13th. VASA is located at 735 N. Glenn Ave. Fresno, CA 93728.
The audition process through Shine is a little different in that they hold auditions, then have workshops where the students work on their monologues more in depth. After the workshops, they announce the cast list and hand out scripts. The cost for being part of the production is $275. However, there are opportunities for your child to find sponsors, or to sell tickets to off set some of the cost. If you have any questions, please call Shine at 549-4741. (The number in the picture is incorrect.) Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to see Shine in action, their ensemble-Youth Ensemble of Shine! will be showcasing their upcoming season, as well as their show, Somebody’s Children, at this year’s Rogue Festival. (Sunday, March 6th.)
In July there is a 2 week summer camp held at Wesley United Methodist Church. At the culmination of the the camp they perform a full musical! Shine also has after school partnerships at VASA, Cooper, Liddell, Malaga, and with Reading and Beyond. So they might be in your area already!
I love that this organization reaches out to many students across Fresno. The Performing Arts have been important to my family. My daughter is part of something that’s on a much larger scale than just going to school and learning. Respect and corporation have to take place. These children have to work together and be able to trust one another to make a performance successful. Remember, the focus of Shine is the process of theatre arts, not just the end result. Always.