GTPulse: Interlochen Arts Academy Theatre Students Show Their Talent On and Off Stage

Youth and creative minds have long been celebrated all over the world and when the two combine the effect is mesmerizing and revered. Interlochen Center for the Arts has been celebrating and fostering artistic youth through Interlochen Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy since 1928. The ethereal, wooded campus sits on 1200 acres in Interlochen, Michigan where most of the students live. Students spend half of the day studying academics, and a second half of the day taking courses that improve and enhance their chosen art major.  Alumni include Norah Jones, Josh Groban Ed Helms, and many others who have gone on to lead enviable creative careers. I’ve been curious to see the school and meet some of the inspiring students and last week I had the pleasure of doing just that. This week’s GTPulse will be dedicated to exploring the daily life and passion that Interlochen Arts Academy students from each major have towards their art form.

I have strong nostalgia towards theatrical arts and was elated to be in a dressing room on a production’s opening night. Though the room was clean when I arrived, in a few hours time the counters would be covered in stage makeup and hairspray and actors would be shouting ‘heard!’ to their stage managers call time cues. Cookie Dutch, stage manager of The Lark and Juliet Coe, lead for The Lark are both theatre majors at the academy and opening night glow is radiating off of them like sunshine.

“So, Juliet is the lead in the Lark, which is a play by Jean Anouilh about Joan of Arc, and I’m the stage manager and it’s our opening night tonight which is super exciting!” Cookie said.

The show had it’s open dress the night before and the two were pleased with how it went.

“It went really well, we were just talking about this. We’ve been through over a month of rehearsals, hours of rehearsal everyday and as a stage manager I’m recording blocking and looking at props and entrances and exits. I’ve seen this play like 30 times, but seeing it with the energy of an audience, and it’s my first time stage managing…it was an incredible feeling,” Cookie said.

Cookie is a theatre design and production major and was originally a creative writing major at the academy. He switched when he realized that he enjoyed reading screenplays and became drawn to how the words could transform into a full blown production.

“I’ve always enjoyed going to see shows and reading plays, and I was super interested in that world but I knew performing wasn’t what I wanted to do. I started reading a lot of plays and talking to theatre faculty and students and production students and just made the switch.”

Juliet is an acting major and Joan in The Lark is her first ever lead in a production. She’s known that she’s wanted to be an actor most of her life. She was introduced to performing through an elementary education at a Waldorf school. She was hooked on performing after a fourth grade performance.

“I was in a dance ensemble and it was the first time that I had ever been under a stage light. I remember going on stage and the massive adrenaline rush you get. My vision went blurry and it felt like I was vibrating. This is the best feeling you could ever have anywhere at anytime,” Juliet said.

Juliet knew that she wanted to pursue theatre and performing in her education when she felt frustrated with classmates who didn’t take the craft as seriously as she did.

“I want to take work seriously, whatever it is. Everything is important and deserves that effort, especially artistic endeavors. I wanted to be around people who want to love this and invest in this as something educational.”

Each semester arts academy students take different arts major focused classes. Cookie is currently taking directing, fundamentals of design, and makeup design. Juliet is taking stage movement and directing as well. 

In the directing class they’re both learning how to move actors around the stage, how to manage a group of people and how to interpret a play and tell the story to an audience in the best way possible.

“We do a lot of staging experiments, we do a lot of readings on direction, directing mini scenes. It’s not often people our age get to take a directing class, let alone stage something in a theater with full lights and actors,” Cookie said.

The Lark is a full production that the students and faculty produce. Interlochen Arts Academy students work on the show with faculty that have produced professional shows and have had prestigious careers in theatre and theatre education. Theatre students work on productions that will be comparable to professional theatre productions they may work on when they graduate from the academy. Both Cookie and Juliet plan to pursue theatre careers after graduating from the arts academy, and they both want their traditional education incorporated into the work they aspire to do.

Cookie is considering going to college for english literature so he can be a dramaturg. A dramaturg’s role in a play production is to research the text of a show, providing historical context, references, and to be able to help the cast and director better understand the context of the show. Juliet is still narrowing down ideas and dreams.

“I can confidently say I don’t know yet!” she said with a laugh. “I love all my academic classes and I want those to be apart of my life too, and that’s kind of the great thing about theatre is it’s this crossroad of…you need to know math because the character needs to know that, physics explains your movement, english explains you text analysis, science explains everything that’s happening. Theatre is this awesome center point for learning. I’d like when things intersect, so I’d like to do something that explores that more.”

Juliet and Cookie both still have lots of time to explore the aspects of theatre that they love and cultivate their talent. It may be their first show as a lead and a stage manager, but if I had to bet, it’s not their last.


Categories: GTPulse