Synetic Theater’s mission is to be the premier American physical theater, fusing dynamic art forms — such as text, drama, movement, acrobatics, dance and music — by producing world-class theater for all ages, educating the next generation of artists and physical theater professionals, and promoting this distinct form of theater nationally and internationally through community outreach and touring programs.
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Several actors from previous Synetic Teen Productions will join adult company members on the main stage in Synetic’s upcoming season. Eliza Smith, Emily Whitworth and Usman Ishaq discuss their experience with the Teen Productions, and how they are translating the skills they learned there. Usman and Eliza will both perform in Synetic’s upcoming show, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Emily first performed on the Main Stage in Jekyll & Hyde in 2012, and Emily will travel to Mexico as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream this August.
The Synetic Teen Production is a highly selective and physically intensive training program that offers teen actors the chance to participate in a professional production that rehearses over a 5-8 week period. Teen cast-members work with professional directors, choreographers, fight choreographers, stage managers, light, costume and set designers. Synetic’s next Teen Production will be Teen Hamlet, in the spring of 2015 and Auditions will be held on August 23, 2014.
Before working with Synetic, Usman had little experience working in theater, and Eliza had been trained primarily in dance. After seeing Synetic’s production of The Tempest in 2011, Eliza thought that participating in the Teen Production would be an exciting way for her to learn from professionals who have developed a unique form of theater. Usman became interested in the Teen Production after several of his friends spoke highly about having participated in Teen Taming of the Shrew in 2013.
Emily has been involved with Synetic since 2010, before the Teen Production’s genesis. After working with Synetic’s Family Theater, Emily said that she and her peers “were too old to play children onstage, but not quite mature enough to portray adults. [The teen production was] the perfect chance to perform at a level that was appropriate for our level of experience.”
Synetic’s Teen Production audition process is different from most theater auditions due to its emphasis on learning the physical, rigorous Synetic technique. Rather than being competitive like auditions for other shows the Teen Production auditions allowed actors to feel comfortable. The show’s ensemble bonds from the first audition, and while some of the teens were initially nervous, Eliza said that her “nerves quickly disappeared once the group warmed up and everyone started to sweat… [The audition] was very relaxed and enjoyable.” Usman’s main piece of advice is to “stick with it and if you fail, keep trying. You can only get better.”
According to the three young actors, the Teen Production provided them with the groundwork to be prepared to perform on the Main Stage. During the eight week rehearsal process, teen actors gain both personal bonds with their cast-mates, as well as the tools and skills needed to pursue a professional career in theater. “I especially enjoyed learning to really work collaboratively with the cast to form a strong ensemble,” Eliza said.
On transitioning from the Teen Production to the Main Stage, the three actors talked about working with a new ensemble. The “actors have more experience… the ensemble is stronger.” On the same note, Usman says, “people in the adult company were extremely friendly and welcoming, [and working on the main-stage] gives you much more responsibility.”
From on their experience with Synetic’s Teen Productions and Main Stage, the three actors have some advice to teens thinking about pursuing acting. Anyone interested in joining the Teen Production, according to Eliza, should “be prepared to learn a lot about a new art form! Be prepared to work hard and to be humble about improving your skills, [and] be prepared to have the time of your life and be changed forever!”
Emily said that teen should treat the Teen Production as a learning experience. “Soak up everything, listen to notes, and be earnest in your work,” she said, “you’re here to learn, so do it. Watch your directors, watch your cast-mates, watch the crew.”
Usman said, “have fun with what you do, that’s what Synetic is all about,” adding that you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to the other members of your company and make a few friends.
Auditions for 2015’s Teen Hamlet will be held in one-hour blocks on August 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and are limited to 10 students per slot. Callbacks will be held September 6th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To reserve an audition slot, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you plan to audition, be prepared to move, run, jump, dance and sweat. Bring a headshot, resume, and a schedule of known conflicts.
Rehearsals for Teen Hamlet will be held between February 9 and April 8, with a week off for spring break March 30-April 3. Performances will be April 9 through April 17.
Click here for more information on the Teen Production, as well as teen workshops and classes!