Monday, October 8, 2007

Apprentice Company Responses

“These two weeks have influenced the way I view the acting world more than any other experience. Apprentice Company has taught me so much, from monologue development to juggling to ensemble awareness. Thank you!
-Tommy Harless, Montgomery Bell Academy Sophomore

“For the second year in a row I’ve had the distinct honor and enjoyment of working with some of the most talented young artists in the area. Apprentice Company not only enriched our experiences, it shifted our attitudes, sharpened our abilities, and helped us discover connections that will last for years to come, which will ultimately enhance the local community. On a personal level, I learned to juggle, sword fight, audition, improvise, direct and share a story for an audience. I look forward to another show in the Park!”
-Ben Greaves, West Wilson County High School Graduate
The University of the South Freshman

“While I often find myself in the position of an outsider, this year’s Apprentice Company truly provided me with an opportunity to learn a wealth of information and take a myriad of risks without fear of rejection. I cannot think of a time where it seemed that the only consequence of your action was to get another opportunity to aim for success. I’d heartily recommend the Apprentice Company to anyone considering it.”
-Zack McCann, Father Ryan High School Graduate
Belmont University Freshman

Apprentice Company has been one of the greatest acting experiences of my life. I’ve learned to juggle, clown and be vulnerable and open. Combat has been great and will benefit me for years to come.”
-Sam Spanjian, Community High School Senior

“This Apprentice Company experience was amazing. I had no idea what I was getting into, and no idea that I would have this much fun! Everyone is insightful, intelligent and a joy to be around. I’ve bonded with this ensemble more than any other. In the course of two weeks I’ve learned so much about theater, clowning, my fellow cast mates and myself. I’m amazed that in so little time I’ve been affected this much. I will take this training and apply it to future acting jobs and life.
-Ricardo Beaird, Nashville School of the Arts Senior

“Apprentice Company has aided me beyond belief. Each day has been jammed with new and challenging exercises, eye-opening vocal training and ensemble building that has made me love each and every ensemble member. I cannot thank the faculty enough for inspiring me and allowing me to feel comfortable. I would advise and encourage everyone to take this leap and join Apprentice Company. I am so grateful!
-Savannah Frazier, Hume Fogg High School Senior

“Being part of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Apprentice Company has been an awesome experience. Through working with professional actors and working with my fellow Apprentice Company members, I have learned to take risks both in my acting and in my life. The various responsibilities Apprentice Company gives have helped prepare me for other aspects of my life that will require more responsibility as I grow older. Apprentice Company has been fun, and I have made friends that I will keep with me for years to come.”
-Christy White, Nashville School of the Arts Graduate
Transylvania University Freshman

“I loved the ensemble feeling of the Apprentice Company. I learned so much – not only about myself, but also about how to work and create in an ensemble. I became more confident and comfortable with myself and my art as a result of the Apprentice Company training, everything from Viewpoints to pratfalls to intensive monologue work. Every minute was worth it!
-Caitlin Kelly, Nashville School of the Arts Senior

“This has been my second year in the Apprentice Company. I came in feeling confident that I knew the ropes and I wouldn’t be thrown for a loop. After the second day I realized I was in for another great journey. I feel so accepted by the other ensemble members. I learned how to truly become a clown and a better person. Apprentice Company is an excellent opportunity to get to know the Nashville theater community and to learn about yourself, not only as an actor but as a human being. After being instructed by actors in Nashville, one leaves with not only an audition monologue but a new confidence in oneself as an actor.”
-Alex Spieth, University School of Nashville Junior

The 2007 Apprentice Company gave me the means to be the best possible. After some difficult high school days, Apprentice Company reminded me that no matter how hard you fall you can still get up to fall harder. Whenever someone made a mistake, the group lifted them. The Apprentice Company training was a refreshing step into success through vocal coaching, clown training and pratfalling!”
-Brad Burns, Home School Senior

I have learned so much doing the Apprentice Company training. Firstly with voice, I learned how to use my diaphragm. I really enjoyed the clowning, where I learned about direct communication through acting and relentless commitment to the character’s motive. I really thought it was challenging to bring the text to life, but in the end the training paid off and was very beneficial.”
-Anna Millard, University School of Nashville Sophomore

“Apprentice Company is, in all honesty, the best thing that has happened to my acting. In the 2006 company we learned control; this year we learned to let go of control and let the words take over. I am a more open and less timid actor because of the Apprentice Company.”
-Steven Berryessa, Home School Graduate
Watkins College of Art & Design Freshman

“As an acting and directing apprentice, I’ve had so many opportunities to grow in this summer’s program. As an actor, I’ve been allowed and encouraged to go out of my comfort zone and explore. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me and has made me feel more secure as an artist. As a director, I’ve had priceless experience coaching my peers, and I know that there is no other program where my advice would be as welcomed. This program never fails to inspire me, and it makes me grow not only as an artist, but also as a person.
-Cassie Tesauro, Nashville School of the Arts Senior

Friday, August 31, 2007

The City Paper


Outrageous comedy finds love in Milan
NSF Apprentice Co. shows ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’


As one of Shakespeare’s earliest works, The Two Gentlemen of Verona offers a whimsical story of young love and friendship. So who better to stage such a lighthearted play than the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Byron and Beth Smith Apprentice Company?

Featuring 15 talented teens, as well as a number of professional stage veterans, The Two Gentlemen of Verona incorporates a fanciful circus theme – complete with colorful clown costumes, silly sound effects and plenty of onstage antics.

The play introduces us to lifelong friends Valentine and Proteus – the two gentlemen to which the title refers – who travel to Milan in search of their fortunes. Instead, their friendship is tested when the fickle Proteus falls for Valentine’s beloved Silvia. Of course true love prevails, but not without the obligatory series of comic complications, including everything from a botched elopement and a merry band of outlaws to a heartbroken female character forced to disguise herself as a man.

Directed by NSF’s Education Outreach Coordinator Claire Syler, Two Gentlemen maintains a lively pace while showcasing the considerable talents of the young ensemble.

Standouts include Sam Spanjian and Steven Berryessa as Valentine and Proteus respectively. Savannah Frazier (as the lovely Silvia) and Christy White (as poor jilted Julia) offer memorable performances, managing to hold their own against outrageous male counterparts.

But as with many of Shakespeare’s works, the servants provide much of the wisdom – and most of the laughs. In this regard, Alex Spieth is excellent as Valentine’s loyal Speed, delivering tongue-twisting dialogue with a wink and a smile.

Likewise Chris Baldwin is hilarious as the dim-witted Launce, working the enthusiastic audience to maximum effect with a seemingly endless stream of puns – and with a little help from a dog named Crab. Indeed, the pooch (played by the charming Mr. Biggles) is adorable, innocently wagging his tail as Launce repeatedly scolds him and calls him “the sourest natured dog.” As with the NSF’s concurrent production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Two Gentlemen of Verona benefits from the talents of a top-notch creative team. June Kingsbury’s costume design and Scott Boyd’s set reflects the production’s youthful and animated tone. But make no mistake – with the exception of a few technical glitches early on – this show is every bit as polished as any open-air theater production can be. True to its mission, NSF continues to educate and entertain audiences through the timeless stories of Shakespeare. CP

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Post Five
By Ricardo

I can’t believe it’s here! After all of the work and excitement, it’s finally opening night of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

It’s hard to believe that we started rehearsals over a month ago. Looking back, I’ve learned so much while having a lot of fun. I had no idea what was in store for me when I was accepted as a member of the Apprentice Company. This is my first time experiencing this magnitude of theater. Everyone always brings their “A-game.” We have amazing directors, stage managers, sound engineers, musicians, actors, and lighting directors. Not to mention the people in the audience, many of whom I became familiar with last week at opening night of The Merry Wives of Windsor – they’re great.

The past two weeks have been especially intense. With school starting, we’ve had very long days. The Apprentice Company has really bonded during this time, and we have helped each other make it through. We are a family now, and I’m happy that I have gotten to know everyone. I’m dreading the time when we must part on September 9 because we have grown so much together.

This summer has been one of the best summers of my life. I don’t know how I’ve learned so much in such a little time. Between learning how to juggle, Shakespeare monologues, clowning, and admiring professional actors, the summer has gone by so fast.

Opening night is tonight! We are super-excited. Neither long hours, nor 110-degree heat can stop us...FOR WE ARE APCO ‘07!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Post Four
By Cassie Tesauro

Last week I realized just how compassionate the members of the Apprentice Company are. I woke up last Tuesday morning, and as I started to get ready for rehearsal I developed a horrible migraine. I kept getting ready, but eventually I had to stop and lie down. I missed half of rehearsal because of my migraine and was sick for two days. I made it through rehearsal, but I had to lay low.

Being a member of the Apprentice Company is like being a member of a big family. When you’re ill, everyone watches over you. I even had one of the professional actors tell me to “stop sweeping the stage like a crazy person” because they knew I was still sick.

It’s inspiring to watch the professional actors, both on stage and off stage. They’re all role models for me. If I can grow up to be half as kind and talented as they are, I’ll be happy.

This is my third year in the Apprentice Company, and the reason I keep auditioning is not only because I have a passion for theater, but also because I have a passion for the people who work in theater. There is nowhere else in the world where you can find a group of people who support each other as much as we do.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Post Three
By Zack M.

This is my first year with the Apprentice Company, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was active in my high school theater program, and after graduation I decided to step outside my comfort zone and train with the Apprentice Company. The experience of taking this risk and trying something new is similar to what I am now experiencing through the rehearsal process. I have learned that taking risks is necessary and often it will lead you to places previously unimaginable.

I’ve always considered myself to be a talented actor, and in the past it has been hard to keep my ego in check. Soon after my first few days as a member of the Apprentice Company, I realized that this was a whole different ball game. I was surrounded by a myriad of talented people.

This week a lot has changed. We’ve begun the rehearsal process for The Merry Wives of Windsor and moved to Centennial Park for rehearsals. Our schedule (12:30 – 9:00 p.m.) makes for a long day, but it’s worth it in order to put on a good show. One of the most exciting things as an Apprentice Company member is the opportunity to work with professional adult actors. It’s been quite an experience. The way the professional actors explore their craft is inspiring and has given me many ideas of what I can do to improve my own performance.

It’s also been very cool because my former teacher Randall Lancaster is playing the character of Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Having the opportunity to act with a former instructor has been extremely fun. While it’s very hot outside, everyone is working their hardest despite the heat in order to bring Nashville a fantastic show come mid-August.

During the first two weeks that we built our ensemble, I learned numerous things that have helped to shape the clown world we are preparing. Without a doubt, Apprentice Company training has been one of the most informative theatrical experiences that I have ever had.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Sam Spanjian, Savannah Frazier, Steven Berryessa
Photo by

Friday, July 27, 2007

Post Two
By Christy Whit

I cannot believe it’s already time to start rehearsals for The Two Gentleman of Verona tomorrow. This is the third time I have been a member of the Apprentice Company, and I am always so surprised at how fast it goes by.

Today we perform the monologues that we have been working on for our friends, families, and fellow actors. Herb Parker, a professional actor and member of The Merry Wives of Windsor cast, came in yesterday to work with us on our monologues. He was such a help. Everything he said applied to me in some way. He helped me to see my monologue in a completely new way. I am always surprised at how many different ways Shakespeare can be translated…there are so many options!

Today we also started working with noise makers for The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It was so much fun! We gave our sun salutes, which are the yoga exercises we do every morning, sound effects. It was interesting that even though we were making such funny sounds, our sun salutes kept their integrity and their seriousness. We came to the conclusion that if we had tried to make our sun salutes funny by acting funny instead of doing them the way we always do, it would have taken away from the simplicity of the sounds.

Simplicity is something we have been talking about throughout the training process. We talk about it in relation to monologues, but also in relation to clowns. We have discovered that just one simple and clear clown action is much more funny than something sloppy. For example, if I were to wave at someone as myself then I would wave by moving my hand back and forth repetitively. This isn’t funny. If I were waving as a clown it would be one simple movement. It is amazing how much better things look when they are simple and clear.

I am excited about monologues today. I’m not particularly nervous right now, although I’m sure I will be when it comes time to perform. That’s how it always is for me. I’m fine right up until it is time to walk on stage. Oh, well. I hope my dad can come.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Apprentice Company will be performing The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare in the Park 2007 with a clown theme. In order to prepare for their roles, Apprentice Company students have been working with a professional actor, specializing in clown techniques. Read on for a first hand account from one of the students...

Post One
By Brad Burns

When I found out that I was going to be training to find my "inner clown,” I was worried that I might focus too much on pleasing the audience and getting a laugh. But, I realized clowning is actually unflinching, serious acting. I loved how we ran with it.

In just our first week we have already done text work, and some of us have taken our first steps in learning how to juggle! That doesn't sound like much, but it's quite an achievement for a young actor. On top of that, we learned different pratfalls and clothesline swings. One day all we did is practice falling…over and over and over. It was fantastic!

The adult actors from The Merry Wives of Windsor cast are great people to watch. They really make Shakespeare’s play come to life. I love being with the Apprentice Company and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and I cannot wait to perform at Shakespeare in the Park with them.