The smell of drying paint filled the first floor as we entered, and not just because there’s a new, two-story set shop on site. The Arden’s Hamilton Family Arts Center is still a work in progress, with contractors completing the facilities as carpenters simultaneously work on the sets for an upcoming show. Hopefully the facility will always be if it fulfills its mission of being “the teaching theater,” as Education Director Maureen Mullin summarized.
She explained the immense need to acquire a space that would be dedicated exclusively to teaching. Over the past five seasons, the Arden’s drama school has increased 215%. “We were having classes everywhere- the lobby, dressing rooms, offices.” In addition to the adult drama school, the Arden offers youth classes for all ages. “Professionals work beside kids,” Maureen explained in describing the Arden’s approach to theater. In no way is this more the case than in their Teen Arden program.
Teen Arden is an after-school program for high school students who love theater. It’s cleverly tied in with a ticket discount program- Bites, Drama, Access!- that offers youth a chance to share a meal with actors before watching the same professionals perform on stage, then engaging in a post show talk-back. Teen Arden also organizes field trips and professional skill development opportunities for the teens enrolled, such as college panels with a theater focus and participation in master classes with theater professionals. In addition to this, the whole thing is led by the Teen Arden Council, a group of committed youth who drive the programming the Arden provides teens. The Arden provides a Teen Lounge for members of the council and youth involved in Teen Arden’s programming on a given day. Through a grant from the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, membership to the Arden Teen Council is FREE!
For the inside scoop on Teen Arden, check out their Facebook page here.
For details on the Arden’s youth programming and ticket discounts, visit the Arden’s web site here.