Ask yourself, what you want out of the program. And what does your teen want out of the experience? I would suggest choosing a program WITH your teen, since the teen’s voice should be part of the process, so they will feel more internally motivated for the best buy-in. Some programs are crammed as full as possible to give photo ops. This works for some, but not one that facilitates change and growth. If you are looking for a more serious and challenging program that helps teens channel their talents and master their craft, then there is much more to consider.
ACTING EDUCATION THAT FOCUSES ON THE WELL-BEING OF THE TEEN
So many programs piggyback teen programs on adult programs. Teens develop emotionally and intellectually daily on and off the stage, and the program should honor this. A Movement Method can be excellent if it includes self-awareness and empathy building. Also, beware of Method Acting as it is dangerous for teens… and many adults. Your checklist should include if the director can instill confidence, encourage collaborative creativity, and teach teamwork. Students of the craft should thrive off-stage in life and in the spotlights. The best competition is when students compete against themselves, trying to get a little better than yesterday. Make sure the student has “a safe place to fail”. For instance, in LATTE Theater, the focus is “progress, not perfection”, so that they have permission to explore what works best and enjoy the journey.
Stay away from schools that sound like a pyramid scheme. Payment for different levels does not automatically mean the student is learning anything – or the lessons are internalized. Check online and word-of-mouth recommendations, and see if you can attend a rehearsal to see what it’s like behind the scenes. Acting Training actually is training, not gift wrapping.
BUILDING REALISTIC AND AUTHENTIC SKILLS
Many programs have you imagining applause and enjoying the spotlights. Yet, the best ones set you up for real life with advocates in the field who can mentor you, a realistic understanding of what it all takes, and how these skills and abilities transfer to other industries. Any director will tell you the audition begins from the moment you arrive on the property. A good program prepares you with a complete set of skills in your tool belt, resilience, assists in internal motivation, and helps the teen develop discipline.
A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
Make sure that your teen feels safe and comfortable where they are creating. Best case, the student and cast ensemble work together collaboratively to create a quality scene with the director. Teens need a nurturing, energizing environment that facilitates healthy emotional wellness at its core. It should be nonjudgemental, yet challenging and FUN! At LATTE, we focus on high-level learning… with laugh attacks and realness. Because in an environment of trust, the most incredible shows happen… and real, sustainable growth can take place.
~ Felicia Pfluger, Pfluger Empathy Movement Method, (c) 2023