Originally Published 5/7/19
By Caitlin Howle
Just because it’s almost summer doesn’t mean that Trinity Rep isn’t busy! Another year of our Young Actors Summer Institute (YASI) is quickly approaching! In 2018 there were 120 students who took part in YASI and all of them performed in the showcase at the end of the program. Plus, there were 56 different classes that students could choose from and 48 staff members, including instructors and assistants.
But let’s take a step back— what’s YASI?
YASI is the best place for a summer full of theater for all ages! It is one of the most comprehensive summer arts enrichment programs in New England. For four and a half weeks, students ages 10 to 18 choose from a variety of electives, including playwriting, musical theater, improvisation, Shakespeare, stage combat, and more. These classes are taught by Trinity Rep’s acting company, education staff, Brown/Trinity Rep MFA students and alumni, and local working artists. At the end of the program, there are two public performances on the Trinity Rep stage. After the main program, there are optional program extensions for extra enrichment.
Class offerings are better than ever each year. Students get to choose what class they want to take based on their own interests, meaning our program is designed based on student feedback and class sizes are small for more personalized attention. There are also plenty of bonding activities so that students can get to know each other and start to form friendships that we hope will last a lifetime. Last year students came together to do a scavenger hunt, a lip sync competition and were able to pelt one of our directors, Matthew Tibbs, with a pie to the face. He was unscathed, though his pride may have been hurt just a bit.
One of the best things about YASI is getting to talk with the students about how YASI affects them. We sat down with one of the YASI kids, Sophie Grosswendt. Sophie is an 18-year-old who attended YASI from 2012-2018, and has now graduated from the program. She started out with no theater experience but wanted to come because “…it sounded like something I wanted to do!”
She loved all of her classes but is eager to admit that musical theater was her favorite. She smiles and says, “Rachael Warren is amazing!” Many kids, like Sophie, come year after year for YASI. We’ve had some kids who have come all the way from elementary school through high school — but don’t let that fool you — new students are always welcome.
The thing about YASI and the courses at Trinity Rep is that we take pride in our kids! We want them to feel like they can achieve anything — because they can. We want to help them be the best actor, playwright, director, or whatever they may dream of being. Our programs are meant to encourage, train, and aid students in preparing them for their dreams. Students from YASI have gone on to do great things, and continue to work as actors, even at Trinity Rep! For example, current YASI student J.J. Bento has been in A Christmas Carol twice — and we recently had William Derby as Brett in 2018-19 Season’s The Song of Summer.
We asked Sophie why she came every year and she told us, simply: “Everybody here is so nice and accepting. It’s good to know there are places like this where everyone is accepted. Everyone gets cheered for, everyone gets a standing ovation.”
Registration is now open for 2020 YASI programs, which also include YASI Jr. for students in grades 1-4. Students select classes in the order in which they registered, so act now! Financial aid is available as well — since we believe that theater should be accessible for all.
For details, please visit TrinityRep.com/yasi or check out the following pages. We hope to see you this summer!