Young actors participate in Harlequin Productions summer program

The Conservatory for Young Actors is back for its second summer, free of charge for talented young thespians in South Sound.

“We don’t want anyone to be turned away for price, because there are lots of good artists everywhere,” said the program’s lead instructor, Maggie Lofquist.

The conservatory is largely supported by patron donations and is hosted by Harlequin Productions. It has 19 students ages 13-19 who went through a competitive audition process to be accepted into the program.

Sara Geiger, 18, who recently wrapped up her first year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, said she has been pleasantly surprised by her time at the conservatory.

“I came into this just hoping to practice the skills that I had already learned from my first year, but they bring in stand-up comedians and lighting and technicians. I’m learning so much more than I thought I was going to,” Geiger said.

Each day, the students rotate through different class sessions, including voice and diction, movement and improvisation. The classes are designed to help them integrate their classical training with their current experience.

“We have heated discussions about what it is to be an actor in modern theater and how to take those concepts and apply them to classical texts and how to make those texts come alive,” Geiger said

The program’s classical training has a special focus on the works of William Shakespeare. According to Lofquist, studying Shakespearian plays is key for the development of aspiring actors.

“It is so great for teenagers to explore because it is so open and emotional,” Lofquist said. “The vulnerability that you have to have when you do Shakespeare is something I think everyone needs and loves. That’s why he is still around.”

The conservatory’s final presentation will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. Lofquist said the evening will showcase where each individual is in his or her process, with students presenting a series of scenes from select Shakespeare plays.

“A lot of summer programs or kids camps focus on the final product. ... That’s not our goal,” Lofquist said. “Our goal is to give these kids and new actors tools to put in their toolbox that they can then use in the outside world or in a theatrical base.”