Imagination Stage Student Conservatories & Ensemble to Present GODSPELL, STILL LIFE WITH IRIS & INTERFACE

With 40 students, 19 designers, and three directors spanning three performance groups, Imagination Stage's conservatories and ensemble take the term "recital" to a whole new level. This spring's productions, featuring students in grades 4-11, are all directed by practicing professional theatre artists who are well-respected in the DC-metro theatre scene. This year's directors include Randy Baker, co-artistic director of Rorschach Theatre, Dawn Naser, professor at Howard University's College of Arts and Sciences, and Katie Keddell, arts administrator for Young Audiences/Arts for Learning. Students will showcase their talents in three exciting productions including the classic musical Godspell; a profound play for young audiences entitled Still Life With Iris; and the world premiere of Interface, conceptualized by the students themselves.

Still Life With Iris (Acting Conservatory) will be performed Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. Godspell (Musical Theatre Conservatory) will run Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 18 at 6:00 p.m. Interface (Speak Out On Stage Ensemble) will be performed on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 1 at 3:00 p.m. All three productions will be held in The Christopher and Dana Reeve Studio Theatre at Imagination Stage. Tickets for all performances are $10 per person, and may be purchased online at www.imaginationstage.org, at the Imagination Stage box office, or via phone at 301?280?1660.

Imagination Stage offers unique conservatory programs for students in grades 7-10-the Acting Conservatory and the Musical Theatre Conservatory-which give a concentrated glimpse into what a professional production process entails.

Associate Director of Education Nikki Kaplan explains, "The actors in the Conservatory programs are accepted upon audition and go through advanced training for three semesters prior to beginning rehearsal for these productions. Because of this, the actors approach the process close to how professionals do-independently working on the script and their character, completing any necessary research, and then collaborating with their director. They are positioned to make choices independently rather than waiting to be told what to do by their director."

This spring, the Acting Conservatory will dive into the fantastical world of Nocturno in Still Life With Iris. Director Randy Baker describes the show as a "wild play that is so much fun, you forget it is dealing with some pretty sophisticated themes such as the loss of memory, family, and home, and the ultimate perseverance of love. Like The Odyssey, it's not a story about reaching a new destination, it's a play about finding home after being lost."

The Musical Theatre Conservatory presents the classic 1970s musical Godspell. Director Dawn Naser describes the creative process as "students learning to reveal who they really are. [Godspell] is about being individuals who maintain their individuality, but come together because they all share the feeling of being lost."

The Speak Out On Stage Ensemble gives young artists in grades 4-6 the same opportunity as older students in one year versus the full 2-year conservatory commitment. This ensemble sets itself a part by creating a world premiere play each year-this year's production being Interface, a coming-of-age story set in the era of technology. In the first semester, the students, with the guidance of their director, create an original idea for the production.

Their concrete concept is then handed off to a professional playwright who brings it to life. This year's playwright, Jack Novak, states, "I worked hard to make sure that the ideas you see in the script all originated from the kids themselves. I tried to hold off employing any of my own imagination until it seemed necessary to support the themes and characters that the kids had already shaped."

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