When I was living in Los Angeles from 2001-2006, I was a founding member of a new musical theatre movement within the Academy for New Musical Theatre (AMNT).
We were the Academy Repertory Company, an ensemble of actor/singer/sight-readers who would cold-read new musicals in the making. Our “performances” usually took place in a laboratory setting, but occasionally we would bring a show in front of paying audience as well. Our core group of “guinea pigs” not only got an incredible work-out, and the opportunity to play roles far outside our type-casting, but more importantly, we got to see the process of making a new musical.
In the Bay Area, with the exception of several growing new works festivals, there has been no such home for new musicals. When I mentioned this to Scott Guy, Emmy-nominated screenwriter and ANMT Executive Director, he said, “Why don’t you start one in San Francisco?”
At that time in 2006, I lacked the team I have now, but with the FOGG it seems the day may have finally come.
FOGG’s Youth Conservatory is important to me because theatre and the performing arts is a critical part of empowering youth with valuable skills of self-expression, self-confidence, public speaking, problem solving, comfort and ease in their bodies, and communication and literacy skills. We believe that when given the right opportunities to achieve these attributes (through fun and engaging classes and performances), the youth of our programs will flourish both academically and socially, as well as artistically. By learning about their Bay Area community through stories, and more importantly, by telling their own stories as Bay Area natives, we believe our students will feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and will go on to become our leaders and community-builders of the future.
FOGG’s Youth Conservatory will offer ELL youth a method of self-expression through music, dance, and acting that can allow them to transcend their language barriers and shine on a completely new level. It also is our vision to extend our programs to meet the special needs of youth facing autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD, so that they may more freely express their stories and work in a group setting with ease and camaraderie.
Finally, once it its education programs are thriving, the FOGG Youth Conservatory seeks to produce full-scale youth productions, partnering with existing community organizations to tell our stories, for us by us.
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