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Local Theatre Professionals Launch Pennsylvania Theatre Institute

A new summer theatre program on the campus of West Chester University gives students the opportunity to study acting, dance, singing, improv, and design with Philadelphia's most respected theatre artists and educators. Students with an interest in theatre arts will take classes, prepare an original showcase project, perform for friends, family, and loved ones, and make lasting memories and new friendships in a supportive learning environment.

Instructors Charlie DelMarcelle, Katherine Fritz, Liz Filios, and Rob Cutler all have impressive resumes in the Greater Philadelphia area, with Barrymore awards, appearances on TV/radio, and hundreds of stage credits to their names. For this busy foursome, their seasons are filled with professional acting, musical theatre, comedy, and design work, reserving their summers for their work with young theatre artists. The group arrives in West Chester after many years serving together as the staff of Delaware Theatre Company's Summer on Stage program.

"Finding great theatre artists who are also great teachers isn't always easy," explains Charlie DelMarcelle, professor of theatre in the West Chester University Department of Theatre and Dance. "But once we found this particular group of instructors, something clicked. Each of them brings such passion to their work, and cares so deeply about their students. When the opportunity to partner with West Chester University arrived, we couldn't imagine spending our summers any other way than with one another, teaching students together."

For children between the ages of 10 and 15, a two-week summer camp model will allow them to take classes in acting, voice, dance, improv, and theatrical design, while preparing a showcase performance for friends and family. For older students, the Pre-College Intensive program is designed for rising high school juniors and seniors to experience campus life, receive college-level instruction in theatre arts courses, and prepare college auditions. Pre-College Intensive students have the option to enroll for course credit, and can receive 3.0 hours of college credit for an introductory course.

These programs, DelMarcelle stresses, aren't designed to create child stars or book commercial auditions. Students do not need to audition, and all students are accepted. In fact, he argues, their programming is beneficial to many young people, including the child who struggles with shyness, needs a confidence boost, or simply craves a place that emphasizes belonging and inclusion.

"Theatre is about empathy. Listening to one another, working as a team, telling stories as a group. When we teach the fundamentals of acting and storytelling, we're actually teaching how to listen to one another, communicate better, support one another as an ensemble. These skills are useful for people of all ages, but especially important to foster in developing brains. It can be critical for young people to feel that they 'belong' somewhere, and we strive to create a space of radical inclusion. We are just as much for the child bursting with confidence as we are for the one struggling to come out of their shell."

Enrollment: All registration, tuition, fees, and schedule information is available on the PTI website at Registration is open now!

Summer 2018: Young Company Summer Camp (Ages 10-15) will be held July 9-July 20, 2018. Pre-College Intensive will be held July 23 - August 10, 2018. All classes and performances will be held on the campus of West Chester University in the E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, a state-of-the-art facility featuring multiple performance venues, dance studios, dressing rooms, and production facilities.

About the Pennsylvania Theatre Institute: The Pennsylvania Theatre Institute is a summer day camp program at West Chester University for young theatre artists. Founded in 2017 by working professional artists and educators, students will train in the study of theatre arts, explore various performance and design techniques, and foster lifelong friendships.

About the West Chester University Department of Theatre and Dance: The Department of Theatre and Dance, an accredited institution of the National Association of Schools of Theatre, is dedicated to the educational development of its students, preparing them to meet the challenges of our contemporary world.

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