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Northern Stage's YES, a Valuable Home for Theater Kids in the Upper Valley

Sep 26, 2017 02:25PM ● By Linda Ditch
What’s most important to a teenager? While playing video games, snapping on Snapchat, and checking out Netflix may come to mind first, what it all boils down to is the need to fit in with peers. Teens in the Upper Valley who are interested in the theater arts will find a home with YES.
What is YES? Assistant Artistic Director and Director of Education Eric Love explains that, “Northern Stage Youth Ensemble Studio (YES) offers comprehensive theater training for young actors in grades 7 through 12. Throughout the course of the academic year, YES company members develop their skills in acting, singing, dancing, voice and speech, character development, script analysis, problem solving, and working as a team.”

The young YES actors rehearse and perform three productions during the academic school year, resulting in a fully produced musical on the main stage at the Barrette Center for the Arts. They also participate in six group nights at Northern Stage with post-show discussions and monthly master classes with cast members from the main stage productions.

“The Youth Ensemble Studio is a valuable home for theater kids in the Upper Valley who are passionate about theater and want to bring their skills to the next level and share their talents with the community,” says Eric.

Fourteen-year-old Roberto Silva-Neto, who attends Kimball Union Academy, says, “The Youth Ensemble Studio is a place where I can be myself and have fun with my theater friends (which are the best type of friends). YES is a place where I can pursue my dream of theater with people who share the same dream. I also get the chance to work with amazing people like Eric Love. Eric has been such a father figure to me and an inspiration to me, and I couldn’t imagine a world where I hadn’t met him." 

Eric spent six years acting and directing in New York City before joining the Northern Stage staff. He has a BFA in Musical Theater from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and made his Broadway debut in BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year, performing to sold-out houses at the New Amsterdam Theatre. 

“Helping the YES actors grow, flourish, and shine is very exciting and deeply rewarding,” Eric says. “I set my expectations for them very high and I don’t waver. It’s extraordinary what these kids can accomplish when they set their minds to it.”

Fifteen-year-old performer Ella Falcone says, “The YES workshops provide fabulous opportunities to learn techniques from talented professional actors, and then see how they apply these to their own performances on the main stage. I also have lots of fun with my director Eric Love and fellow cast members while putting on productions. Over the past few years, YES has helped me build my skills to become a better performer.”

Many of the YES students are repeat participants. Eric notes that, of the 40 teens who are in this year’s troupe, 24 have completed one or more seasons of YES. He adds, “A teenager's world is increasingly dominated by email, movies, TV shows, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, video games, and other virtual reality experiences. Theater is the antidote. 

Theater is an art form that requires face-to-face contact. In rehearsals, we practice the art of really listening to our scene partners. We study each other’s facial expressions. We practice clear speech and how to access our emotions. We solve complicated problems together. And when it comes time to perform, we share a piece of art with our friends, family, and community in real time.”

Eric says, “And at the end of a show, when the applause rings out and the actors take their bows, they get the satisfaction of having accomplished something extraordinary. Creating high-quality theater is an invaluable experience for a young actor. And whether or not these students pursue a career in acting, in the Youth Ensemble Studio they learn that they can succeed at anything they set their mind to.”


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