On Friday, October 29 the St. John’s theater director, Ms. Whitney Geohagan, took a group of nine students to the University of Maryland for an Arts Integration Day. She decided to take us on this field trip because it was the kind of thing she was able to experience when she was in high school. She then attended the University of Maryland and was active in the theater department. She recently was approached by someone who she used to work with at the school and was informed about the Arts Integration Days that UMD offers to high school students. She was excited for us to see all of the facilities that are available for use for college students studying theater. She was also excited for us to see both the show that the students were putting on and the behind the scenes aspects of it.
After we arrived on campus we went into the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and were taken into the Dance Theater. Here we attended a lighting design workshop. The lighting designer for the show we would be seeing later walked us through the different types of lights that are used on stage and demonstrated the four controllable qualities of light: intensity, color, direction, and movement. Sam Cernich ‘22 thought it was really cool to see the different types of lights and all of the different ways that they can be used in designing a show. After the workshop we then went into the Kay Theatre and saw UMD’s musical production of Little Women. I was really blown away by the set design and also the amount of talent in the cast. Everyone’s singing was amazing and it was really cool to see what a college-level production looks like. Ian Javelosa ‘22 said, “It was one my favorite iterations of Little Women thus far.”
After a brief break for lunch we were able to take a tour of the building. We saw inside the Cafritz Foundation Theater, the Gildenhorn Recital Hall, the Performing Arts Library and the Kogod Theater. Ian Shaiyen ‘22 personally loved the tour. He thought that the Gildenhorn Recital Hall was definitely his favorite space that we viewed. He really liked the layout and the open spaces that it utilized. Shaiyen says that it was a great first impression of the campus and that he really enjoyed being part of the tour.
Our final activity of the day was a costume design workshop. We were able to talk to the designer of the costumes for Little Women and were even given the opportunity to make our own renderings of costumes. We were given templates of 19th century dresses or suits and used fabric scraps, colored pencils, and markers to design our own costumes. Evie Elliot ‘24 said that it was amazing making period piece costumes and that this part of the trip was so interesting for her.
I think that this field trip was a really good opportunity for us. We were able to see what theater looks like in a college environment. We were also able to see all of the different paths you can explore in a theater career that are not just acting. Fiona O’Connell ‘22 said, “I thought it was really nice to go to a school that I hadn’t originally thought about for theater for college and see several aspects of their art programs.” She said that their buildings were also beautiful and that everyone there was very welcoming. These Arts Integration Days are really beneficial for high school students. Due to COVID, St. John’s was actually the very first student group to come since 2019. I hope that many other students get the opportunity to experience these behind the scenes looks at what college theater is like.