Entertain. Educate. Illuminate. Since Bill Cosby kicked off our first, free student outreach event in 1998, PCPAF has made educational and community workshops, talks, master classes, theater tech programs and shows a core part of what we do.
In October 2010 the Park City Performing Arts Foundation extended outreach to more than 500 Park City High and Treasure Mountain International School students, between the ages of 13 and 18. The students were invited to become the audience in a warm up and sound check performance on a Friday afternoon at the Eccles Center by Playing For Change, a group of street musicians who hail from all corners of the planet. The students witnessing this unscheduled performance brought home the message of the power of communication through music, which Playing for Change would offer the following evening, and the Playing for Change concert was packed. Further, three Playing for Change musicians and GRAMMY-award-winning music producer Mark Johnson met with voice and orchestra students in the Park City High School band room. It was through Park City High School orchestra teacher Steve Fairbanks that the outreach was arranged.
In December 2010, 12 students and several adults and teachers attended an outreach in Park City High School’s Black Box Theater, where singer/songwriter/actor Jeff Daniels discussed the difficulties he faced getting started in the acting business and advised theater students to attend small state schools where parts in theatrical productions are more available. The experience was informative and eye-opening.
In January 2011, during Sundance Film Festival 2011, 15 short films were brought to the Park City High School auditorium by The Park City Performing Arts Foundation. The auditorium seats 209 but during several screenings the theater overflowed with students sitting on steps and standing in the back. Nearly 3,000 students from Park City High School and Treasure Mountain International School viewed the films over five days. The audience also included 20 students from France, on a cultural exchange and attending school in The Canyons School District. The Park City Performing Arts Foundation helped make it possible for these students to view the shorts shown at Park City High. The Park City Performing Arts Foundation also supplied 30 tickets to a PCHS ESL class, the members of which would not have otherwise been able to view a Sundance film. They saw the premier screening of the highly acclaimed Life in a Day.
February 2011 saw the first Pillow Theater production of the season. Before performing his Toying with Science show in the Black Box Theater, Gary Krinsky conducted two student outreaches, the first at North Summit Elementary School in Coalville, UT, where 30 first- through fourth-grade children were awarded (for good behavior) the opportunity to be a part of his audience. Krinsky then traveled to Park City Day School where 35 first and second graders enjoyed feather balancing and learning to juggle.
Also in February, the Luna Negra Dance Theater and Turtle Island Quartet appeared together on the Eccles stage. On the Friday before their Eccles performance, Luna Negra performed an hour-long lecture demonstration for 250 high school, middle school and elementary school students. The same afternoon Turtle Island gave about 30 string students an hour of musical possibilities, culminating with the quartet playing Jimi Hendrix’ All Along the Watchtower. That evening Turtle Island performed a salon concert at The St. Regis Deer Valley.
In March the Park City Performing Arts Foundation presented the one-man drama, FDR, with award-winning actor Ed Asner in the starring role. The Monday following the sold-out performance, Asner attended Park City High School’s advanced placement government class where nearly 30 high school juniors and seniors were captivated by Asner’s stories of his own political activism and of the politics of the FDR era.
On March 12, world-renown modern-dance company, Pilobolus, danced a near sold-out performance on the Eccles stage. That morning they had conducted a masterclass workshop specifically for 15 local dance students at Park City Dance Academy for Performing Arts.
Just three weeks later, on April 2, Masters of the Fiddle, including Natalie McMaster and husband Donnell Leahy, both famed fiddlers, took to the Eccles Center Stage. They agreed to host an hour-long workshop before their performance for Park City School District students. Thirty-one middle and high school students and several parents, siblings and teachers were able to attend the midday workshop. Natalie McMaster taught the string students a fiddle tune, and Donnell Leahy completed the workshop by passing on to the students several fiddling techniques.
Although the after-school tech program only became official in 2002, students have been learning the backstage ropes from experts in the field since The Eccles Center opened. In some cases, the weekly program has given those “at risk” a creative outlet and a sense of belonging. For others, it has led to college scholarships and career opportunities. Working towards a journeyman’s certification, many technical theater students leave the program equipped to work the lights, sound and stage management of theaters around the country. Today, these former tech program students are some of PCPAF’s most valued crew members.
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