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THE THEATRE AMBASSADORS PROGRAM: An Arts Leadership Program

Theatre Ambassadors Payton Anderson, Mairi Johnson, Catherine Vorwald, Soren Eversoll and Greta Hallberg (l to r) volunteered at Park Square this summer.
(Photo by Quinn Shadko)

The Park Square Theatre Education Program further invests in our teens through its Theatre Ambassadors Program. This program offers 10th to 12th grade students who have a passion for theatre the opportunity to more deeply explore its mysteries through workshops with teaching artists, talks with theatre professionals and discussions with fellow Ambassadors.

Education Director Mary Finnerty proposed the program in 1999, as she had been keenly aware of students she’d taught during her ten-year teaching career who were deeply passionate about theatre and loved to talk about it all the time, but who she described as “artistically lonely” in their schools. The funding for the Ambassadors Program was found in 2011.

In 2012, the Ambassadors Program was launched! Since then, many 10th to 12th grade students have applied to participate in this unique program, which requires a serious time commitment (Theatre Ambassadors meet one Saturday a month, for six to seven hours per meeting, from September to May) and tuition cost of $150 or $35 for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

As Ambassadors, the students:

  • Take Master Classes from professionals in Voice, Movement, Stage Makeup, Acting, Stage Combat and Musical Theatre.
  • Learn about Theatre Design (scenic, costume, lighting, sound) from professional theatre designers.
  • Attend six shows at Park Square and discuss them with their peers and the artists who created them.
  • Get career advice from theatre professionals.
  • Become a part of a group of teens from throughout the metro who enjoy theatre as much as they do.
  • Bring a free theatre workshop to their school or community.

However, the Ambassadors are expected to contribute, too. They must:

  • Attend all seven sessions. (Absences for theatre performances are excused.)
  • Plan and invite three students to an event to introduce them to the Theatre Ambassadors Program.
  • Connect a teacher artist to other students in their community by coordinating and advertising a theatre workshop to be taught in their school.
  • Read excerpts from scripts.
  • Blog or journal about their opinions and thoughts about the shows.

Initially conceived as a one-year program, some participants begged to continue for another year. Now they can do so as Ambassador2’s. As such, they spend the summer to not only help Education staff prepare for the incoming group of Ambassadors but also gain valuable insight into how a theatre runs by doing hands-on work to support various departments. So far, three students have actually done three years in the program so are technically Ambassador3’s.

While not all Ambassadors may ultimately pursue a career in Theatre, Park Square’s Ambassadors Program definitely impacts their lives and further enhances their love of theatre. Certainly, many have gone on to major in Theatre Arts but now with an expanded view of possibilities beyond acting. Past Ambassadors have also started their own theatre company or landed roles on the Park Square stage. And many of these Ambassadors have left the program intending to be physicians, teachers, microbiologists or other occupations who will love theatre forever and probably serve on Theatre Boards or work to keep arts alive in our community. In upcoming blogs, you will meet two Park Square Theatre Ambassadors to hear about their experiences in our program and the effect it has had on their lives.

If you would like more information on our Theatre Ambassadors Program, contact Quinn Shadko at 651.291.9196 or education@parksquaretheatre.org.

Ting Ting Cheng, Blog Author, Park Square Theatre
Ting Ting Cheng

Ting Ting Cheng joined Park Square Theatre's Front of House staff in 2014. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Los Angeles, she became a Minnesotan after graduating from Carleton College with a B.A. in English Literature. She loves live theatre and has a passion for writing.

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