I had the unique pleasure of having a fly-on-the-wall experience the other day, when I dropped into a Music Theatre workshop being led by our guest artists Mitchell Cushman and Julie Tepperman. Cushman and Tepperman are developing a unique “site specific”play, that will be presented in a stageless production throughout Brantwood School— a historic Oakville high school— that involves all of our fourth year Music Theatre students. This project was spearheaded by associate dean Michael Rubinoff, and conceived in collaboration with Cushman and Tepperman.
The workshops are designed to develop all the characters in the production, which will feature Brantwood’s inhabitants over an arc from the 1920s to 2012 when it was decommissioned as a surplus school. Cushman and Tepperman are preparing our students for this theatrical experience, where actors move through many spaces in an improvisatory way, along with the theatregoers who follow them on this journey. Each actor must thoroughly embody his/her character without benefit of a prepared script, and comfortably move through unstructured spaces, inevitably interacting with audience members along the way.
“I have never seen a room with close to 40 young adults so thoroughly engaged and motivated” – Ronni Rosenberg
As such, the workshops were brilliant. I have never seen a room with close to 40 young adults so thoroughly engaged and motivated. The energy of the collective was palpable—one body moving seamlessly together, attuned to the same goals of the workshop assignments. And then the individual work on character presentation and development flowed remarkably from the earlier group work.
And finally today, Cushman and Tepperman provided the big reveal to the student performers, taking them on a guided tour of Brantwood School.
Cushman and Tepperman are emerging young superstars in the local theatre scene, and their work with our students is exhilarating. Clearly energizing and transformative, this work will no doubt leave an indelible mark on the education of our wonderful Music Theatre students.
The production is scheduled to run at the Brantwood School, 221 Allan Street, Oakville, from April 14-25, 2015.
Pictured at top of page: Mitchell Cushman (far left) and Julie Tepperman
Written by: Ronni Rosenberg, Dean of the Faculty of Animation, Art and Design at Sheridan.