The Orlando Repertory Theatre (Orlando REP) Youth Academy (YA) is a place that not only offers young people camps, classes, and productions, but opportunities to lead in their community. The YA Apprentice program is one that allows students grades 7-12 the opportunity to volunteer as classroom apprentices, stage management apprentices, or office apprentices at Orlando REP and all its partnering locations. Participating students experience first-hand what it takes to lead young people interested in theatre. Megan Griffin-Ferry, a classroom apprentice, has worked exclusively with the Drama for Homeschool program. Having been homeschooled herself, she has decided to take the lead and work with students who share the same experiences she has. We sat down with Megan to talk about her role and share what it is like to be an Apprentice with the Drama for Homeschool program.
|Tell us about your first experiences with the REP.
I was maybe 3 or 4 years old when I saw my first Orlando REP show and since then my love for theatre has grown. I have seen over 20 shows here at Orlando REP since then. I actually collect posters and postcards of all the shows I’ve seen and have them all taped behind my bedroom door.
What is it about Orlando REP that you love so much?
I just love the energy! Everyone is so welcoming! It’s a special place where you get to be yourself while being someone else.
How has theatre helped you personally?
It has given me something to focus on throughout my life. It is always something I enjoy doing and always look forward to it every week. It has helped give me confidence, take risks, and put myself out there.
Are you homeschooled? When did you start homeschooling? What are your hopes moving forward?
Yes, I was homeschooled when I was younger. In 6th grade I transitioned into Florida Virtual School. This year I applied to University High School with the hopes of transiting into the theatre magnet program.
Do you feel that your experience with Orlando REP has impacted your decision to continue in theatre in high school?
Most definitely! My first summer stock with Orlando REP was “Big Fish” and it made me realize that working with other teens every day in this capacity is something I really want to experience more often.
|Do you feel that there are lots of theatre opportunities for homeschoolers?
There are lots of things that are exclusive to homeschoolers, but you really have to look for it. It is especially hard to find something for the older homeschool age bracket.
What do you love about Orlando REP’s homeschool classes?
Everyone is really welcoming, and the Teaching Artists take their time and pace the class based on the students’ needs and levels. It is really individualized, so it helps the students grow as artists and become better people.
Why did you want to be an Apprentice?
I really love being in theatre and Orlando REP is my home away from home. I really enjoy being active here and when I’m not auditioning or watching shows, I enjoy helping out with classes.
Do you feel that your experience as a homeschool student has helped you as an Apprentice in the homeschool program?
Yes, I think so. I am able to relate to them in many ways. I understand a little bit more what they are going through. If they are talking about things going on I can share experiences and connect with them that way.
|As a homeschooler yourself, how has working with other homeschoolers in this capacity helped you?
It has taught me how to have patience and work better with children. Each time I do it, I feel like I have a better understanding of them. I feel like I can help them focus and becoming a bit more aware of their surroundings. It has also helped me become a better teacher.
Other than teach theatre, what other skills can homeschoolers learn in a Drama for Homeschoolers class?
These classes help promote many different skills, such as: public speaking, self-confidence, teamwork, how to think on your feet, collaborate with others, and be aware of others around you. Theatre really helps you learn how to interact with other people.
What is your favorite thing about being an Apprentice?
Seeing how these kids’ faces light up when they walk into the theatre and watching their excitement. Getting to see them grow up is cool too; some of the kids I’ve seen grow up.
What career goals do you have for yourself and how has working at the REP helped you with those goals?
Performing is definitely my career choice, although forensic science is also something that interests me.
|What advice do you have for other teens wanting to become Apprentices?
Go in with an open mind and be prepared that you will help others learn, but at the same time, will also learn yourself.
What else would you like to share about your experience?
It has definitely been the best experience I’ve had! Coming to Orlando REP is like coming into a family. I’m always blown away about the quality level of the youth academy programs. It really is my home away from home. I also appreciate how welcoming everyone is and how everyone is treated with respect and professionalism.
This unique opportunity is just another example of how students in Orlando REP can give back and help others reach their goals! For more information about the Apprentice program or Drama for Homeschool classes, please email [email protected] or call 407-896-7365 ext. 219.