Acting Apprentice Jake Simonds has been co-directing at Fort Vancouver High School in Vancouver, WA. Here's what he has to say about his experience so far:
"My days at Fort Vancouver start by knocking against the outside of an unmarked emergency exit door. I was fingerprinted, my background was checked, and I even filled out an extensive form certifying I have never been convicted of a crime just to be cleared as a volunteer. Yet now here I was, knocking on an unmarked door like some drug dealer in movie.
"That backdoor leads directly to the drama room. When I arrive each day, the kids have been out of school for 20 minutes and are milling about; chatting in groups of 2-7, or doodling on the white board, or lounging about in chairs not conducive to lounging. They are intensely friendly. They say hi, comment on what I'm wearing, show me funny videos on their phones, and ask what we're going to do today. The sheer vitality in the room still surprises me. When our program starts, these kids are at the end of their day, but you wouldn't know it walking in there.
"Every rehearsal begins with "Check In," a time to briefly tell the group how you're feeling on this particular day. With high schoolers, "Check Ins" can and do cover the whole emotional spectrum. It's at this time that I remember that the beginning of our program is the end of their day. Kids are hungry, upset, tired, frustrated. Or they're jubilant, excited, proud, happy. At "Check In," our worlds collide. They hear about my auditions, and traffic woes. And in this Fort Vancouver classroom, I hear them articulate a tiny slice of their bizarre, otherworldly, and epic high school existence."
Fall Festival of Shakespeare is just around the corner. Check out the work of Fort Vancouver and other area high schools at the Winningstad Theatre on November 22. Get tickets here!