Acting Classes and Camps at the DCPA – An Interview with Allison Watrous, Director of Education

Are you looking for terrific acting classes for your kids or for you? The Arts Education Department at the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) is one of Denver’s best kept secrets!  From preschoolers to adults, everyone has an extraordinary experience at the DCPA!

To get the full scoop on the classes, camps and many other opportunities at the DCPA, I spoke with Allison Watrous, Director of Education.  She describes her department as “an investment in our city.”

The DCPA education programs give Denver a place where stories are being told live.  It is a way to make Denver a more vibrant city and connect people to humanity and their community as a whole.

Allison is always super helpful.  You can often find her in the education offices on the third floor of the red brick Newman Building greeting students and helping them work on a piece or audition.

According to Allison, one of the reasons the DCPA can provide such high quality education is because of the expertise and passion of its teaching artists. Teachers like Tim McCracken, the Head of Acting for the Adult Programming at the DCPA, who is also a professional actor, director, teacher and playwright.

The DCPA helps students learn many dimensions of theater–from writing, to performing to producing, directing and technical behind the scenes aspects.  Allison explains, “it is hard to understand at first glance how collaborative arts education is,” and:

Theater has a big vibrant process, and it is important to give students ways to be open to learning all the pieces to tell a great story.

That time when Jessica Austgen, teacher and actor extraordinaire, had her students from DCPA Teen Company hand out “papes” at the Broadway tour of Newsies at the Buell Theatre.

In School Theatre Education Programs

The DCPA provides a “Dramatic Learning” program to help teachers teach core subjects like language arts, social studies, science and math through theatre. Dramatic Learning serves more than 13,000 students annually in the Denver area.  They have story telling for kids pre-kindergarten through high school and teach core curriculum through role play.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is another innovative program the DCPA brings to schools. Sometimes described as the “food truck of theater.” The truck pulls up to the school parking lot and brings six professional actors, costumes and props.  The cast presents a 45-minute play for students in the parking lot, then return the next day to discuss the play and encourage critical thinking.

The DCPA also has career days and playwriting free workshops to encourage high school kids to write plays that they can submit to the high school playwriting competition.  If you are an educator, student or parent and want the DCPA to bring creative programming to your school, Allison encourages you to reach out to her.

Teacher and actor Justin Walvoord with my little guy at one of the Saturday morning kids’ theater classes

Acting Classes, Training and One-On-One Coaching

Browse the DCPA education web page and you will see every theatre class imaginable.  They have story telling, master classes with visiting casts, improv, scene study, audition skills, musicals, dance, vocal coaching and more.  They have everything from introduction to acting to advanced intensives for pre-professional and professionals.

We help kids activate their imagination.  Our classes are a great fit for parents who want their kids to have a creative outlet.

When asked what she loves most about the arts education at the DCPA, Allison said,

Every single day is artistic and creative and every day is different.  I love the people I work with.  The education team is extraordinary and to be working with such amazing young artists is humbling.

In 2016, the DCPA educated more than 105,000 students of which 84,000 were children.  Now that’s something I love about Denver!

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