By: Michelle Saldivar
Hello Patrons! I have a special surprise for you. Osceola Arts has a fantastic line-up of hard-working staff members. Yet, because of our artistic focus, you don’t always get to hear about them. As the Osceola Arts Marketing Assistant, I have had the pleasure of spending the last three months working diligently alongside them and I want you, our patrons, to get to know them as much as I have.
This week, we are relaunching our Staff Interview series. Here, you will have the pleasure to read a collection of interviews that I have conducted myself that detail our Osceola Arts staff and their duties here. Today, you will learn more about our Youth Theater Manager, Stephanie Day. She is a sweet, caring, bow enthusiast, who has a passion for the youth and helping them express their creativity.
Read below to get to know her a little better!
MS: How did you become involved with Osceola Arts?
SD: “When I was a kid, I went to camp here. So I have been here since I was probably nine or ten. I have been doing camps and student art shows. But I became heavily involved the summer before I started working here. I worked for another company and we rented out the space. So, I volunteered here for an entire summer and then kind of got a job.”
MS: You were definitely involved in the arts beforehand, so what artistic activities did you find yourself involved in?
SD: “The arts have always been a part of my life and my family’s life in some way or another. I was in a lot of plays growing up from the time I could talk. Anything creative really. I did many competitions growing up. I worked for another Children’s theater company before coming here and that was right out of high school. They saw me dance in a show and asked me the month I graduated if I would come and choreograph with them.”
MS: So you are a dancer?
SD: “Sort of. Not really [Laughs.] I did a lot. It is all about loving to direct. Loving to move people on the stage. I am not the strongest dancer but I know what I want to see, so that’s part of it.”
MS: Do you find that the process of bringing the ideas in your head onto the stage easy?
SD: “Sometimes it difficult. If you have a strong vision in your head, either being able to get the actors to do your vision, but you also sometimes have to think on your feet. If something is not working. At lot of times when you are choreographing, you are doing it by yourself, or directing or blocking by yourself, you are not seeing everybody doing it at once. Sometimes you have to rearrange things or simplify things once it’s getting on the stage. That has happened quite a few times before where you have to kind of humble yourself a little bit and say ‘Is this working? Let’s make it look good.’ Ultimately you want it to look good.”
MS: What is your position at Osceola Arts and what does it entail?
SD: “I am the Youth Theater Manager here. It entails a lot. Children’s theater is a huge part of Osceola Arts. So I manage that administratively and creatively. There are three age groups and one traveling troupe, so I deal with all the administrative for that and directing the shows. The youngest age group (4-7 years old) is doing something new, which is the student-directed show. I oversee them and train them to become directors because they are sixteen and directing their first show, which is really exciting. Not just doing that, I also develop the second grade field trip programs and different programs like that involving Youth Theater.”
MS: What programs does the Children’s theater have?
SD: “We have the Minis (ages 4-7), Kids (ages 8-11), Juniors (ages 12-15). We are an educational theatre program, so the students in the 3 age groups don’t have to have prior experience. It is a class where they learn about theatre, how to dance, sing, act, and sometimes the technical aspect while putting on a full scale production. The first 30 students to enroll are automatically in the show. We then assess them in an audition-like atmosphere, and every child receives a part based on how their assessment goes.
The traveling troupe, Centertainers, is a bit different. Those students have to be between the ages of 13 and 18 and they audition to be a part of the group. We take them to Florida Theatre Conference, travel around the area performing, write shows, and are advocates and ambassadors, if you will, of the children’s theatre.”
MS: Tell me a little more about one of the projects you are working on right now?
SD: “We are in the middle of a lot of different projects right now. The second grade field trip program is great. I did the fourth grade field trip program. Here when I first started and we did a take on Peter Pan. We wanted to integrate the arts into it. It is an interactive approach to theater in a very short period of time. The kids come in and we sit all together. We are going to be a part of a production that we wrote specifically for this program. In this program, they get to tour the art galleries and then we get to do what people experience in over a period of months in one hour.
We have had 2 successful shows, Dinostars and Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark, kids. They were successful in that they were sold out for almost every performance, and the students had fun and grew in their talents and confidence. Right now we are working on Music Man Jr with an INCREDIBLY talented group of kids. This season I have been blown away with the amount of growth these students have had. We have been able to help students work through fears, overcome obstacles, and discover talents that they didn’t even know they had.”
MS: So they come from their schools to here and you have a play or musical that they are going to act out and feel what that experience is like?
SD: “It’s a one page script. The one we are doing now is called Morning at the Art Museum. It is kind of like Night at the Museum, where the pictures come to life. The kids do lights, sound, and costuming. I help with directing the show. They get to put on a production that is scaled down so that it can be done in an hour. But, it is still a full production. This project is done twice a week with 120 kids each day. Its meant to introduce the arts to the kids in a way that they would not normally get to experience it.”
MS: What is your favorite aspect of your job?
SD: “That’s a hard question because I have the best job ever. I am really lucky to be in a field that I love. My favorite aspect is being creative everyday. Being with the kids, from the four year old all they way up to the eighteen year old, being in that wide range of experience and seeing how they express themselves creatively, as well as how they challenge themselves. I especially love seeing the students light up on stage and their triumphs in rehearsal.”
MS: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have this framed letter in my office from a student that was so shy. She did not speak really. Her mom spoke to her a lot of the time. Her parents brought her here because they wanted her be confident in herself. I don’t think she spoke two words that first season, but she kept coming back. Her transformation is outstanding. She went from being a shy girl to one of the most talented girls I have ever seen. It’s really rewarding to see a student break through those walls. It just reminds me of why I do what I do every day.”
MS: What is your favorite memory since starting at Osceola Arts?
SD: “There are so many. There is a personal memory that is my most favorite. Since I have been here for almost seven year, this is like my family. I just love it here. In December, I got propose to by my now fiance. He did it after a show, The Little Mermaid, and he included my entire family. It was not only my biological family but my theatre family too. He did it on stage. I was just so happy that he included my students and that they were excited to be a part of it. That memory is amazing and I will remember it forever.”
Sadly, shortly after this interview was conducted, Stephanie made the announcement that she will be moving to Washington. Her theatre family will miss her dearly and wish her the best in her future endeavors.
Come Back every Wednesday to read more about our amazing staff here a Osceola Arts!
If you have a child and would like to enroll them in any of the activities you read about above, feel free to call us at 407-846-6257.
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