Photo: Farnia Fekri

Ryerson Theatre School offers first adult summer acting program

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By Karoun Chahinian

For the first time, the Ryerson Theatre School is running a week-long adult-theatre program at the end of August.

Inspired by the programs at other prestigious theatre schools such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Kelly Arnsby, the program director, decided to propose an Adult Summer Acting Intensive at Ryerson.

“It seemed like a really good fit,” said Arnsby. “I spoke to the chair of the program, Peggy Shannon, and she was really supportive, she really liked the idea. So I put together a proposal and she approved it.”

Ryerson already had a theatre program for children and teenagers, so Arnsby used the framework vaguely when creating the adult program. She brought up the idea in summer 2014 and the process of settling the finances, workshop structure and application processes took a year.

“I think what makes this really unique is that it’s the first time that Ryerson Theatre School is offering a program for adults where anyone who wants to study with us can join,” said Arnsby. “It’s usually very difficult to get into a program, I think that’s one of the things that I find most exciting. They’re going to really be able to take the kinds of classes that our full-time professional students take.”

Unlike most performance programs, Arnsby is accepting the first 16 applicants to give everyone an equal opportunity to learn, rather than focusing on past theatre experience.

“Maybe next year we’ll rethink that, but I wanted to create a program where people could just study with us if they want to. If we find that this works quite well for everyone this year, we might want to do it again,” she said.

The workshops focus on three performance mediums, movement which is led by Arnsby, voice led by Lauren Ferraro and acting led by Marianne McIsaac. From Monday to Friday, the classes start at 10 and end at 3:40, where all three forms are worked on through different workshops that are “not too fancy” through the use of more contemporary material.

“It’s place for anyone who wants to take the program to be able to work on their acting skills through through movement, voice and scene study. Each individual will also be able to take away things that are specific to why they’ve chosen to participate in the program,” she said. “I’m really hoping that anyone who takes it will be inspired by the work that we do.”

On the last day of the program, the participants will informally showcase what they learned over the week through a final presentation at noon in their scene study room in Kerr Hall for their friends and family.

The program is privately funded and is running from August 8 to 13 at a rate of $450 per student.

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