Sure, logging a stint with South Florida's largest theater company's rigorous high school mentorship program looks good on a college application. But the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Youth Artists' Chair is about much more than beefing up a resume.
Julie Rowe, director of education for Maltz Jupiter Theatre (which recently "swept" the musical Carbonell Awards), said participants in the free intensive summer program pick up real-world skills that are difficult to teach in a classroom setting. These include communication, leadership, compromise and negotiation. The students also learn what it's like to function in a high-pressure, deadline-oriented creative business environment.
"It's a high level of experience training," Rowe said.
Youth Artists' Chair participants stage an entire production, from beginning to end, overseeing everything from set design and rehearsal to opening night. The program is open to students between freshmen and senior year and enrolled in a private, public or home school setting during the program period.
Students who are selected to participate can apply for jobs in set design, wardrobe, run crew, lighting, stage managing and directing. There are also more "business-y" roles, like marketing, development and press relations. Each participant gets one-on-one mentoring from a Maltz professional.
Rowe said one of her biggest thrills from the program is watching students "take ownership of every department of the production." This is particularly evident in production meetings, where students "talk about their visions" and figure out "how do we work together and collaborate?"
The projects selected for production are no slouch, either. This year's team will produce William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Last year, it was the weighty The Laramie Project. Because Maltz Jupiter Theatre is currently undergoing an expansion (construction is expected to be completed by October), the Youth Artists' Chair is also getting a lesson in staging a production in the round at Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta.
"They get to learn how to tell a story in such a unique environment," Rowe said.
The deadline to apply for this year's Youth Artists' Chair is April 15. Interviews for open positions will take place through April 19. The student-led production of Hamlet will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 24. Students who earn the roles of director and producer will assist in selecting the show's youth performers. Casting is open to students ages 13 to 18 and open auditions are April 27. Call 561-575-2672.