ATI’s SOAR program helps students learn all aspects of professional theater

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Hannah Luciani is completely sold on the value of Actors Theatre of Indiana’s education program.

Luciani, who will be a Zionsville Community High School junior in August, took part in the first SOAR Professional Development program in January and February.

“I absolutely love the education programs at ATI and think they are doing a fabulous job with preparing and propelling their students for the world of professional theater,” Luciani said. “Like me, the other eight kids I was surrounded by during the SOAR process were extremely passionate and utterly devoted to theater. We all had to learn from each other, work together, take master classes, observe professional rehearsals, put together a showcase and compiled scenes and songs. If it sounds like theater geek heaven, it’s because it is. After my first experience with SOAR had finished, I immediately asked if there was a way for me to continue being a part of SOAR, and or the education program, because I felt like I had benefited so much from it.”

So, when she heard ATI was doing SOAR this fall, she immediately knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I feel like I have so much more to absorb and I couldn’t think of a better place to learn from besides an education department that creates a home and cares so much for its students, such as the one at ATI,” she said.

SOAR, part of the Actors Theatre of Indiana Student Theatre Education Program, is designed ages 13 to 18 who are interested in pursuing a professional career in arts or theater, Amanda Boldt said. Boldt and Katherine Clemons, who run the program, are ATI co-eduction directors. Both still perform as well.

The program starts Aug. 20 with interviews being conducted in August. Registration ends in early August.

Students get to meet the cast of ATI’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” watch rehearsals, tech and dress rehearsal. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” runs from Sept. 6 to Sept. 29 at the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

“They come to the opening party, like they are a part of the show,” Boldt said. “While they are doing that, they also take master classes from actors and all different people in the industry. Then, they have rehearsals to put on their own showcase at the end of the program.”

Boldt said they invite college representatives from area schools and talent agencies, so the students have an opportunity to display their talents.

The showcase is Sept. 28 at the end of the six-week program. Most of the sessions are from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Previously called the ATI Immersion Experience, the program was rebranded to SOAR.

Boldt, a 2013 Carmel High School graduate, said there is an interview and audition process for applicants. A total of 17 applied and nine were selected.

“We want them to be able to take on the responsibilities that we are going to give them with the program,” Boldt said.

The program is capped at 15 students so they can receive personal instruction.

Clemons said the biggest thing they learned from running it the first time was they needed more time for the program.

“We told them it was going to be very fast-paced and it was almost too fast-paced, so we made it one week longer,” Clemons said. “That way they would have another week to get their showcase performance down and sell it. We try to have the kids pick something outside of their comfort zone so it will show them how strong their abilities are to do different things.”

In addition to working with the actors in the show, choreographer Carol Worcel will teach dance to the students. There is a mock audition day where ATI co-founders Don Farrell, Judy Fitzgerald and Cynthia Collins give the students feedback.

Nick Carpenter, who teaches adult improv classes, is brought in for a class.

“It’s one of the first classes to really get the SOAR kids loosened up and ready,” Boldt said.

For more, visit atistage.com/education-workshops.

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