Editorial: Theater students visit UMD program

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.

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