Where did it begin? Andrew Preston started The Actors Project in February 2011 with the goal of providing quality theatre to students that have never seen a theatrical production actually get them interested in wanting to see more! In order get students invested in theatre, he understood knew you had to approach productions in a unique way that will engage students and get them excited at watching theatre. Andrew wanted The Actors Project to stand out and be a leader in a new move towards revitalizing children's theatre in making it a mainstream form of entertainment.
Prior to creating T.A.P., Andrew was a member of a children's theatre troupe for several years during which he developed a great working relationship with the director of the company. Throughout his time there, Andrew learned the basic principles and style of children's theatre. When it came time for the director to retire, Andrew took the guidence and wisdom bestowed upon him and would carried it forward to future endevors which would become the basis of The Actors Project.
After his friend's retirement, Andrew joined another children's theatre toupe for a short time. While there he took notice at the different artistical approaches for creating children's theatre. This troupe had a less visual impact which relied heavily on the imaginations of the students. The imaginations of kids are pretty powerful but you do have to help the audience establish a "jumping board" to in which to finish the scenery. Along with the absence of scenery, the stories were very simple and almost played down to the students. Kids are very smart. They know when something is being simplified for them especially when you have the older students. When the tour began, Andrew noticed the student's reactions and responses to the plays were different from what he experienced on prior tours. He realized they were the results due to the lack of visuals and appealing stories. Due to the shortcomings in creating something really engaging that will interest the students to become intrigued with what they were watching they simply weren't as invested. The reactions of the students demonstrated that they were "seeing actors perform" a play rather than seeing characters in a story. Without those elements the students weren't interested in what theatre has to offer. Simply put they thought theatre was just something silly. Andrew has always wanted to get students excited about theatre and this troupe was doing the opposite. Andrew began developing ideas on how to really capivate all the students to get interested in theatre. Everything need to be just right. From the story element to the costumes all the way down to the scenery had to engage everyone. Everyone being the opperative word.
Imagination is what theatre relies on most from it's audience. In children's theatre you have to cater to the imagination of a young audience. Many people creating theatre are adults. As adults grow so do our imaginations. We see and think about things differently then the youth. Many of the artists creating children's theatre rely on what they think children will find interesting. Many times those ideas end up being seen as playing down to kids especially the older kids. In order to make theatre work for kids to you have to bridge the gap of the impaginations of all age ranges. As students are gowing up we still have to keep them interested in theatre. Simple "children's theatre" does keep the fifth and sixth graders motivated to watch more theatre. There's another element that has to be incorporated in children's theatre and that's the imaginations of the adults! Teachers play the most important part in bringing theatre home. If the story is simple that even the fifth graders aren't interested how are the teachers watching going to be interested? Once the show is done they go back to the classroom and begin the next lesson. You have to create plays that bring everyone together! To share in the wonder and excitement that theatre can create!
With the intention of getting everyone interested to love theatre, in the Winter of 2010, Andrew embarked on the journey to start The Actors Project. The productions T.A.P. would put on would not only entertain and engross students but as well as the teachers and principals. Everyone will come out feeling like they have seen something entertaining and sharing something in common with thier students. Thus creating a dialogue between the students and teachers! Once the production is over they would go back to the classroom and discuss the humor, plot and characters of the play. Engaging the students to appreciate and love the art of theatre. T.A.P. productions create stories with humor, plots, and characters that transend different ages. It's a unque approach that even embodies a differet acting style that captivates everyone watching a play! The Actors Project is not a normal "children's theatre" that many schools are used to. It's a new style that will excite everyone and will keep them interested in theatre.
Children's theatre to Andrew is not just an excuse to create a play and entertain, but rather to create something magical, imaginative and captivating for both students and adults. The result should be that by the end of the production they walk out of the auditorium talking about what they just experienced. Another result should be that they that can't wait to see another play! The future of theatre lies in the hearts and minds of these students. Helping create an educational dialogue paves the way for students to get interested and learn more about theatre likewise engage and encourage the use of thier imaginations and creative abilities. The Actors Project will continue to grow and develop new endevors that will enrich everyone's lives and see theatre as mainstream form of entertainment. Theatre is not just for a few, it's for everyone.
The future of The Actors Project is pretty limitless! Well, eventually there will come a point when The Actors Project can't epand any further but until that time comes, the future is limitless! What's in store? We plan on developing original plays under our The Actors Project's Plays After Dark series. These series of plays will be catered to a more mature audience that includes older kids, teens, and adults. The purpose is to bring in families and communites that are not used to or have never seen theatre to experience it! The stories will allow everyone to see that theatre is something exciting and interesting.
Project Improv is another development in the works that willl travel to childrens hospitals, schools, summer programs. The Improv team will also specialize in commedia del'Arte shows that will tour art festivals. Children's hospitals only offer a limited performance space so Project Improv is perfect to bring some T.A.P. humor to those brave kids that need it the most!
As much as The Actors Project grows, we can't perform for every school unfortunatly. How do we get The Actors Project to those schools? Our as of yet untitled movie series will bring schools our past productions in a film format. We recieve countless of letters from students wishing they could see our plays over and over again. The film series will allow students and families to experience our style anywhere and anytime!
How will we expand on our touring productions? Now that The Actors Project has been around for five years many of the students we have performed for are now in middle schools. We plan to develop stories that will still keep them intrersted in watching theatre and The Actors Project. We aim to enourage them to support thier love of theatre by nurishing it with special theatre classes that will get thier creative skills up and running.
Hopefully the future will entail The Actors Project with it's own theatre venue to bring many if it's own ideas to fruition. A state of the art facility will be able to produce more main stage productions that will allow students to experience theatre in a more grandoise presentation. Education in the arts is important to Andrew and The Actors Project. The theare will also provide kids all over Los Angeles with a place where they can learn about all things about theatre. From acting, design, and music, our company members will be able to provide knowledge and expertise that will help them learn skills and how collaborative the theatre arts is.
As the company continues to grow we will always hold our touring children's theatre at the center foundation of the company. Everyone, every school, every child, rich or poor, should be able to experience theatre. All these goals and plans can only happen with the help and support of you, and our local communites. We will be able to offer our services to community events that will help further investment in the Arts. The Actors Project will also help schools with fundraisers that will help benefit thier students. Please support the Arts! Check out our donation page to help out and learn more!