Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Theater Guest Blog: Apprentice Boot Camp!

Guest blog by Stefan Melnyk, New York University student and Patel Conservatory Summer Theater Apprentice

Patel Conservatory's Summer 2013 Theater Apprentices

For the first time this summer, the Patel Conservatory theater department offered an Apprentice Boot Camp.

The theater apprentice program began last fall and offers students from high school through college the opportunity to volunteer at the Conservatory and learn about the various backstage departments of theatrical productions.

I have the privilege of being a student in the program this summer, and enjoyed a sometimes frantic but always engaging week of Apprentice Boot Camp, which introduced us to the Conservatory and its upcoming summer productions.

I was born and raised in Columbia, Mo., a college town in the heart of the state. Although my academic pursuits remained (and still remain) quite sober-minded, outside of school I always maintained a love of the theater by participating in various regional and educational theatrical productions. These productions were crucial to my development, both as an artist and as a human being. So when a family member who had been in several productions at the Patel Conservatory told me about the work being done there, I saw it as a terrific way to help bring that kind of formative experience to a new generation of young theater enthusiasts.

After a couple of days of general instructions and guidelines, we set to work meeting the people in charge and learning the basic outlines of the challenges that might face us in the weeks to come as the Conservatory embarks on its summer productions.

We learned the proper way to pack up a rock drum set, how to hook up amplifiers to a system of microphones, how to command stage lights from the control booth, how to build platforms in the workshop for use in scenery. And finally, we were given a fictional scenario in which we had only one morning to construct a serviceable rock concert setup from the platforms we had helped to assemble the previous day.

While the week consisted sometimes of meticulous instruction and sometimes of bustling activity, I learned a great deal about things that I had rarely even thought about before, particularly in the areas of lighting and set construction.

More than anything else, what the Apprentice Boot Camp did for me was provide me with a basic toolbox of skills that will ensure that - whatever crisis may arise - I’ll be able to lend a helping hand.

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