Theatre Aspen Blog
July 27, 2017
I’ve been alive for 20 summers, and I can say without a doubt that this has been my best summer yet (That’s 2 decades of summers!!!) Theatre Aspen wins this summer because it has given me incredible relationships, growth in countless ways, and inspiration for my future in the performing arts.
In one month, I’ll be a junior at Kansas State University. I’m majoring in Vocal Performance with minors in Theatre and Non-Profit Leadership Studies. Just like most college students, I was having occasional doubts in my career choices this past spring. I’ve performed in shows at my school and learned lots from every production, but was unsure if a job in performing arts would be sustainable.
I applied for the Theatre Aspen Apprenticeship Program wanting to expand my horizons as a versatile individual in the industry, and was selected as the Arts Administration Apprentice. Within the first two weeks in Aspen, my fears about my life choices were eliminated. I was doing REAL work in the office from the very beginning, making true friendships with all of my fellow apprentices and cast members, and interacting daily with professionals who had even been through the same things I was worried about. Needless to say,
it. was. AWESOME.
I knew from the start it was going to be a fantastic summer, but I really had no idea the types I was transformations I was to undergo.
My weight is a challenge that has been ahead of me since I can remember—it was a challenge that seemed so huge, I thought I could never really do anything about it. But something was different this summer. I am so fortunate to have been in Aspen where the atmosphere and the people have beckoned me to leave my old habits. In 8 weeks here I lost over 20 pounds to get to my target weight, then began working on converting my fat into muscle (aka tryna get YOKED). All of this progress has been made just by eating healthier and going to the gym/getting some significant physical activity every day. This is a major life improvement that I will keep with me forever.
I will always cherish and benefit from the friendships and experiences that have been made in Aspen. I’ve loved my time as an administrator, but also learned that I want to be onstage for a little while before I return to administration. Though it will be hard to leave in several weeks, part of me is also excited—I cannot wait to return to college a new person who is always ready to live for the moment and embrace the future. Theatre Aspen has led caused me to think of my aspirations in greater ways. While I want to perform hope to be successful in my musical endeavors, my impact as an administrator is something I am incredibly excited for. If I can eventually give aspiring young artists the type of experience I’ve had this summer, I can consider my life well spent.
July 26, 2017
I’m an artist– which I won’t take back, because those words naturally imply always seeking without ever fully finding. It’s the exact opposite of saying, ‘I know it already, I’ve already found it’. To the best of my knowledge, those words mean ‘I seek, I pursue, my heart is in it’.
– Vincent Van Gogh
I am an artist.
You will not hear my voice, I am only seen in the soft glow of transitional light. Moving slowly across the stage in dark clothing carrying an armful of props. Yet here at Theatre Aspen I am able to make my mark and gladly say ‘I am an artist.”
An apprentice program like this one is rare. Through our last month of hard work and long hours, our class has been made to feel a part of this company, no less than the people we are working alongside. The professionals of this company represent the people that we aspire to become in our career. We have been shown our true potential; this business is a feasible career.
Stage management has been a part of my life for many years now. The crazy, uncertain years of high school to college to adult life were always supported by my work in theater. It is cliché but theater is where I found my home. My love of organizing and paperwork had a concrete purpose; my enjoyment of the creation of art was allowed to flourish; my focus on small details was considered a useful skill; so, I stayed in stage management.
Through Theatre Aspen’s Apprentice Program I have found mentors and friends that will last beyond this summer. I have been made to feel a part of the team and have in turn pulled my weight to assist those around me. I get to see my fellow apprentices shine through their own work all while remaining a genuinely kind group of artists.
Theatre Aspen lends itself to grand poetical statements to the point where people sometimes forget the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a season at our tent. It is important to acknowledge the hard days and the minute details that have to be remembered are a part of this business. Learning to keep up with the pace and problems that come from this type of process is imperative. With three shows up, working in a variety of roles, I have learned so much about just how much is needed to perform at the quality of Theatre Aspen and how to bring that quality to the rest of my work.
There is so much more to this apprenticeship than just booking it and learning from mentors. I have been encouraged to grow, to challenge my work, and to understand the paths of other people. Every day I wake up surrounded by mountains and at the end each day staring up at the span of stars overhead. Great bookends to days filled with the work that I consider my career.
I am a stage manager. I am a technician. I am an artist. “I seek, I pursue, my heart is in it.”
July 13, 2017
I am so grateful for this summer's adventures. Theatre Aspen is teaching me so many things about life and happiness. Being here in Aspen, I've been presented with opportunities to perform, rehearse with professionals in the theatre world, learn from veteran actors, learn from professional directors and managers, and to have fun being around people who do the same thing that I do!
It has been over a month since I touched down in the most beautiful place I've ever been! Aside from the opportunities to perform and work with great people, Aspen is gorgeous. For this to be a summer job, I feel extremely blessed to be able to leave work and look out into the mountains! I've been on 3 hikes, and yoga has become a big part of my time here. With the gym membership they are freely giving us, I can work out on my time off!
I know that opportunities like this do not come along all of the time. Understanding that fact, I cannot help but that God for allowing this to be something I experience! This is my first summer stock job, and to God be the glory that it is a well-known Regional/Equity theatre! I've met beautiful people inside and out. And I continue to learn from my co-workers! There is love in my heart for Theatre Aspen, and I am so ready to marvel in each show! I am ready to begin teaching assisting next Monday! I am NOT ready to leave! I am ready for my family to come and experience the beauty of this place and the good shows they have to offer!
Thank you Theatre Aspen! (Paige Price, Markus Potter, Kaitlin Hopkins, Jessie Douglas) Great theatre can be done as long as everyone believes in it! Thank you for allowing artists to share art! Thank you for creating a safe, fun, and exciting environment for young people like me to thrive!!
July 12, 2017
There comes a time (or multiple instances, really) that you feel the stars aligning for you for whatever reason; you try to look back and see everything you could’ve possibly done to lead you to this moment in time, but you draw a complete blank and suppose it must be fate or some otherworldly moving mechanism in this giant machine called ‘life’; but in reality, it’s because it was meant to happen.
This opportunity with Theatre Aspen has been the most ‘stars aligning’ moment I’ve had thus far in the beginning stages of my career as a performer, and I can’t help but think everyday, “I’m here. I was chosen for a reason. There must be a reason why I’m here in this gorgeous place working with fantastic people. It must be fate or destiny, or both!” I find myself constantly pinching various parts of my body in hopes of waking myself up from this dream, and I’m always completely elated to realize this is no dream, I just happen to be in OZ 24/7.
My audition for Theatre Aspen has been my most memorable yet: I auditioned in New York and naturally in ‘Important Audition Day Fashion” I had a dress malfunction and my dress zipper imploded, exploded, and practically disintegrated literally minutes before my audition, so I whip on my Nancy Drew thinking cap together and fashion the most absurd, hilarious and poorly constructed dress clasper known to mankind. The lovely girl behind the desk at Pearl Studios offered her sweater to me, and I walked into the room hoping for the absolute best because clearly it was ‘all up from here!’
Flash forward to a few days later having my callback, and I’ll never forget hearing the wonderful Mark Martino say “Ewwwww” on one of my bizarre acting choices, and Paige Price remembering my Apprentice audition video and telling me in the room, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE HIRED!” Little did I know that a job offer would truly be sent my way (just as Paige had said!) in just two short weeks. Is that destiny, or what? Yes there was crying. Yes there was jumping up and down. Yes there was the ‘They like me. They really really like me’ moment. This was supposed to happen.
The rest is history!
Each day has little hidden joys: from waking up and hearing birds chirping outside my window, to chatting it up with our fantastic staff behind the scenes, to having the most wonderful time in a dream show of mine and having the most hysterical partner in crime, Michael Gorman, who always puts the biggest smile on my face, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with joy on the daily. How lucky am I to say that?
I truly feel overwhelmed with joy every single day. Each and every member of this team and community have opened their arms, hearts, and homes to us, and I truly can’t think of a more welcoming place for young artists to feel safe to explore, grow, fail, and learn. Magic is made here. Maybe it’s in the water, or maybe, just maybe… it’s Theatre Aspen.
To each and every person who has made Theatre Aspen magic over the years, and will continue doing so, I can’t help but thank you for including me in your legacy. It means more than you know.
All my love and then some,
Kayla Ryan Walsh
“Just remember you had an ‘and,’ when you’re back to ‘or,’
Makes the ‘or’ mean more than it did before.
Now I understand—
And it’s time to leave the woods” - Stephen Sondheim
July 6, 2017
A year ago, I never would have guessed that I would be spending my summer in Aspen, but when I was told about the TAAP program by one of the faculty members at my university, I knew the Music Direction position was the perfect fit for me. I still remember sitting in the student lounge in the music building when I got the fateful email telling me I was accepted into this amazing program. Coming from Long Island, which is very flat and urban, I was blown away by the beautiful sights here, from the mountains to the rivers. In my first week I went hiking and white water rafting, which are two things I never thought I’d do! I’ve had so much fun getting to know my fellow apprentices both in leisure time and in the rehearsal process on our shows.
So far, we have successfully opened Hairspray and are in rehearsals for The World According to Snoopy, which opens next week. We have also started planning our Apprentice Showcase for the end of the summer. My job has consisted of observing our Music Director, being an extra set of ears during rehearsals, teaching music to the casts and helping to reinforce vocal parts, playing in choreography rehearsals, and of course performing in the pit orchestra for both musicals! I have enjoyed working on all of these skills in both shows, and I look forward to taking more leadership in the Apprentice Showcase by teaching songs and possibly composing some music as well!
I am so pleased with how both shows I am working on are coming, and I can’t wait for even more audiences to see them! I’m particularly excited for some upcoming visits from family and friends to see me and the productions I am working on. When I’m not in rehearsals, I enjoy watching movies, walking around town, and finding new restaurants to try.
Everyone here at Theatre Aspen, whether they are fellow apprentices, talented actors, tech crew, or production staff, are so welcoming and encouraging. I am excited to take what I have learned back to SUNY Fredonia for my final two years and work on more productions!
July 5, 2017
Theatre Aspen and I stumbled upon each other like meeting your favorite musician at a bar: unexpectedly and surprisingly. I had spoken to Paige Price at an event in Chicago months after I had graduated college at The Theatre School at DePaul University, where I studied directing and theatre for young audiences. I always knew I wanted to work with children, but I couldn’t leave my passion for theatre at the door. After much discussion of life and career goals (summarized now to save you the time of my existential crisis) with Paige, she asked me, “Why don’t you consider the Education Apprenticeship at Theatre Aspen next summer?”
… The what? I had hardly heard of it!
I continued my many jobs and projects in Chicago, but never forgot about that night for months to come. Finally, it was application time and I decided to try my luck at an opportunity that I knew [deep-down] I would regret if I passed it up.
I was so right.
I packed up my apartment and traveled out west to a brand new state I had never been to … it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Theatre Aspen has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have even dreamed about in Chicago or anywhere else. I’m so lucky to be a part of this dedicated and passionate TA family!
Immediately, I was taken under the wings of Graham Northrup (Director of Education), Britney Kuehm (Education Associate), Allison Lloyd (Summer Programs Coordinator) and Amber Julian (Production Manager). They are the best of the best without a doubt; they’ve taught me so much about life and teaching, and I’m not even halfway done with my summer here! While some days are harder than others, it is definitely the most satisfying and gratifying job, especially when you see the joy and sparked imagination within each student. They threw me right in after a couple weeks of observing and learning administrative aspects of a theatre’s educational department, allowing me to teach my own courses within each summer program. Currently, I am working as an assistant director in our Musical Theatre Workshop, Alice in Wonderland Jr. Not only do I get to teach, but I also get to be back in a rehearsal room again, which I have called a comfortable “home” my whole life. It’s the best of both worlds I was looking so hard for at the beginning of my journey.
With all that being said, I get to have fun in Aspen, as well! The other apprentices and I have created our own supportive family. We love going hiking, trying new restaurants and bars in town (especially during brunchtime), watching free concerts on Thursdays in Snowmass, having movie nights in our apartment-styled living, checking out the weekly farmer’s market and shopping at the wonderful local stores in the city. We recently created a Fourth of July float in honor of our mainstage show, Hairspray, and got to sing and dance for the whole city of Aspen in the parade! I was spoiled with hugs from my many students on the parade route and realized exactly why Theatre Aspen is aspiring me to pursue my career in theatre education: because I get the opportunity to inspire and insight the future generation of theatre artists in hopes that they chase their own dreams and become good people for tomorrow’s world.
October 17, 2016
In the heat of a stressful election year, our goal this summer season was to entertain and inspire by delivering outstanding theatre to all of our patrons; and we are proud to announce that this season was everything we hoped it would be and more. In fact, it was one for the record books!
Mamma Mia! sold-out a record 19 shows, while we hit yet another milestone when a record number of brand new patrons came to TA last summer. In total, over 12,000 patrons passed through the Hurst Theatre this summer and we are so grateful for the opportunity to introduce our vibrant productions to new audiences.
Dear Edwina, directed by our own Paige Price, enchanted audiences of all ages and proved we are never too old for great advice. Andrew Travers of the Aspen Times had this to say, "Mamma Mia! may have been the good-time hit of the summer at Theatre Aspen, but the one-man show Buyer & Cellar was the play of the season thanks to Jeffrey Correia’s bittersweet turn as the shopkeeper in Barbra Streisand’s basement."
In August, the second annual Aspen Theatre Festival delivered the promising new musical The Museum of Broken Relationships. Stay tuned for exciting news about the 2017 Third Annual Aspen Theatre Festival! Theatre Aspen's commitment to new work has put us on course to be an important incubator for the artists and art that will be the future of theatre!
This season was made possible through the generous support of season sponsors ANB Bank, Nancy Wall & Chuck Wall, Soledad & Bob Hurst, Darlynn & Tom Fellman, Jim & Brenda Grusecki, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Allison & Warren Kanders, Steven Shane - Compass Real Estate, Terri & Tony Caine, Melanie Sturm & Marc Zachary, and and the Aspen Club & Spa.
Thanks to everyone who supported Theatre Aspen this summer. We are busily planning our 2017 season!
August 26, 2016
I’ve heard Paige Price [Executive Artistic Director of Theatre Aspen] call Theatre Aspen the “Fresh Air Fund for Actors”—and she’s not wrong! But sitting at my desk here at the Theatre Aspen offices after a summer here, getting ready to head back to school, I can confidently say that it is so much more than that.
When I applied for the Theatre Aspen Apprentice Program, I was searching desperately for a change of scenery—somewhere far away from my Midwestern college town and my Canadian hometown, somewhere I could clear my head. I’d gone through a tumultuous semester as a Musical Theatre and Arts Administration double major, and was questioning just about everything, from what I was doing in school, to what I wanted to do with my life, to my own self-worth. When I was accepted into the Apprentice Program, it was like Paige and David [Gram, Associate Artistic Director/Apprentice Program Coordinator] threw me a life preserver: I had a chance to throw myself wholeheartedly into the world of theatre for a whole summer in a brand new environment. It was a litmus test of sorts, I told myself, to see if I still loved theatre as much as I had when I was fourteen and had stars in my eyes. I hoped that coming to the mountains would give me some perspective, if nothing else.
Still—as excited as I was about the opportunity I’d been given, I was nervous. I remember fighting tears when I waved goodbye to my dad at the security checkpoint at Toronto Pearson International Airport, thinking “what if I’m not good at this?” Or worse, “what if this summer shows me that I don’t want to pursue theatre anymore? Then what?” I set my jaw, clenched my passport tighter, and told myself “just do it and see what happens.”
That effectively became my motto for the summer, and the freedom to follow through on that is one of the greatest gifts that Theatre Aspen has given me over the course of my time here: I’ve gained the ability to say yes to things, to stay open to new experiences, and to give things I thought I wouldn’t like or wouldn’t be good at a second chance. I was able to let go of my preconceptions and have fun.
Over the course of my time here at Theatre Aspen, I’ve helped get events on their feet, I’ve written press releases, I’ve gotten to know so much about the donor relations process, I’ve heard countless heartwarming stories from our wonderful patrons, I’ve become a way better marketer than I ever thought I could be (this coming from the girl who told her Arts Marketing professor two years ago that “I’m glad I took the class, but this is so not my wheelhouse”) by creating email blasts and posters and collateral galore, I’ve produced a show for the first time (the Apprentice Showcase), I’ve performed (in the Apprentice Showcase and in our annual Scene Day)… And one day, I sat at our conference table in the Theatre Aspen offices—surrounded by the staff members who have become trusted mentors and friends, the people who have given me permission to fail and who have supported me wholeheartedly as I’ve grown—and I thought to myself “I could wake up every day and do this job, and be unbelievably happy.” To go from someone who didn’t know if I really had a place in this industry, caught between my love for performing and my skills as a budding administrator, to feeling fulfilled by the work I was doing and opening my eyes to new possibilities is an incredible gift. I feel like my life has direction again.
All of that is to say nothing of the incredible things I’ve done outside the office. I’ve climbed countless mountains (both emotional and literal, although the literal ones are more fun—not bad for a girl with a mobility disability!), this Canadian girl had her first Fourth of July, I’ve seen some of the most incredible views in the world, I learned how to ride a bike (well…only twenty feet…but one foot for every year I’ve been alive is something, right?), I’ve gone to a silent disco, I’ve gone running on some of the most amazing trails, I’ve petted an alpaca, I’ve jumped into a pool in my underwear (it was a literal summer splash, what can I say?)… I’ve done so many amazing things with new friends who have grown to be some of my dearest—particularly the fourteen other apprentices I’ve been so fortunate to live with and learn from all summer.
Theatre Aspen is more than just a Fresh Air Fund. It’s a kindness and generosity fund. It’s an “I will believe in you no matter what” fund. It’s a “you are worthy” fund. It is the place where I learned that I am strong, and capable, and prepared to face what comes my way. Though I am sad to say goodbye, I know I’m ready for the next challenge.
Arts Administration Apprentice
August 26, 2016
If I could pick one word to describe this summer, it would would be ‘spontaneity’. Coming out to Aspen was both the hardest and most rewarding decision I have made in a long time, and that includes picking where to go to college!
My summer here took many turns: I learned the importance of professionalism, being calm under pressure, learning to work with the people you have looked up to, and just generally going with the flow. My flight into Aspen was a little rocky, but it once I landed I realized I was spending me summer in one of the most beautiful parts of the US. It got quite distracting at times... but that's okay too!
The first couple weeks were a huge learning curve, as I had never worked in a tent theatre where you need to load in all your equipment at the top of the season. These two weeks taught me so much, like the fact that my height is not the easiest thing to work with, but with the help of some friends and a contraption called “the danger stick” I can do anything! I also had the opportunity to work with Oliver [Freeman], our technical director, to expand my knowledge of tools and building techniques, as it is all hands on deck when the set needs to be put together. It was during all of this where I finally met Em [Gustason], our A1 and Sound Engineer for the summer. Em was a fantastic mentor and showed me the type of human I want to grow up to be, both professionally and personally. We worked together so well, and I learned new ways to do my job better, which is all one can ask for in an assistantship.
Once we were in the run of shows, my job as the A2 was to mic up the actors and generally be hands on deck if anything went awry! With Mamma Mia! in particular, my job was quite involved and I had the chance to get to know my cast quite well. I also did this job for our production of Dear Edwina, which was a much more fast paced show. Most unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to be the A1 for our one man show, Buyer and Cellar; it was another quick study of how to use new equipment. Working with our designer David Thomas taught me a great amount about professionalism and stepping into another's shoes when things go sideways, as they sometimes do. Working with the console and DT turned out to be useful when I had the chance to be the designer for our Apprentice Showcase!
The design opportunities I received this summer were more fun than I could have imagined. Working with the other two production apprentices [Shaye and Ana] to collaborate and design with the Theatre Aspen School’s production of Bye Bye Birdie was a blast. Getting to teach kids about theatre and help to make them feel successful was incredibly rewarding! Another very collaborative project was our Apprentice Showcase which proved to all of us just how talented and impressive our apprentice was (the answer is very very very talented)!
I can say for sure that the takeaway from this summer is much more than I ever imagined: the friendships I've made, the experiences I've had, and the lessons I've learned from my time in Aspen have made me a better collaborator and human. I can't wait to finish my senior year at Webster and get out into that big wide world.
Thank you Theatre Aspen!
2016 Sound Apprentice
August 23, 2016
When I started this summer, I really questioned my choice to spend my summer working for Theatre Aspen. Not because it was a bad place to work or bad work to be doing, but because I was not at all prepared for the summer. Being the youngest person in the technical theatre staff, my experience in this world was definitely lacking. I had no idea what I was doing as an electrician, what is required of me in the professional world, or even how to use a screw gun well. I did not feel like I belonged here. Don't worry, this feeling of “not belonging” subsided very quickly! With help from some of the best supervisors ever, I quickly learned how to feel like I was a part of this company.
My Technical Director, Oliver Freeman, always helped me with anything I needed, and never judged me while also having fun every day. Sara Hildy, [Wardrobe Supervisor], was always a great person to ask questions about wardrobe (and always get an answer!), as well as just have wonderful conversations with. “Remember that time I guessed your collar size perfectly?” Yes Sara, I do. Though Colin Riebel [Box Office Manager/Lighting Designer for Dear Edwina/Assistant Lighting Designer for the season] spends much of his time in the box office, he was as much of a mentor as everyone else. He always came to see everything I was working on, and gave me his advice and input, which was a huge help. Last but most certainly not least, Michael Cochrane [Master Electrician, and alumnus of the first TAAP Apprentice Class] was my personal supervisor for the summer, and he became a really great friend. No matter what we were doing, he'd clarify, and make sure I know exactly what and why we were doing what we did. He was such a wonderful mentor and teacher and friend. He always looked out for me, and made sure I was taken care of constantly. When it comes to Theatre Aspen staff, it doesn't matter who they are, or what world they supervise, they were always there to come to the rescue and help, no matter what. These people have become some of my favorite humans in the whole world, and I hope they always keep in touch with me so we can continue to work together in the future.
All of my feelings of self-doubt that I had at the start of the summer were suddenly flipped upside down, to the point where this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I did never stopped learning, no matter what I did. As the summer went on, I saw and felt myself get much better as an electrician, and a designer. Through working in the [Hurst Theatre] on all the mainstage productions, to the [Aspen District] Black Box Theatre at the high school and designing Bye Bye Birdie [for Theatre Aspen School], the fun never ended. Theatre Aspen will always be one of my favorite places I have ever worked at, and I will never forget the people, and experiences I had here. If you are an apprentice, and considering this theatre, just say yes. You will not be let down.