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Actors Theatre of Louisville to host free youth masterclass with UNIVERSES ensemble

The story of the coalition built between the Black Panther Party and Puerto Rican Young Lords Organization in the musical "Party People".
Philip Allgeier
Actors Theater of Louisville
UNIVERSES will host a free acting and writing workshop in partnership with Actors Theatre of Louisville.

The free two-week-long workshop will feature classes about the writing and acting process with a focus on ensemble building.

The master class is part of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s New Voices program, which aims to increase young people’s access to theater and arts education.

People ages 14 to 19 will be able to take the classes with members of UNIVERSES, an award-winning ensemble theater company that combines theater with poetry, music and movement.

“It is important for young people to have access to professional artists who in turn are excited about interacting with them,” said ensemble collective co-founder Steven Sapp in an email to LPM.

Sapp said the master class will help cultivate a new generation of artists. Students will learn to harness lived experiences and their communities to inform their performances.

“The goal is to share knowledge of the theater but also how that connects to the communities that the young people come from,” he said.

According to Ben Gierhart, communications coordinator at Actors Theatre, students will be challenged to strengthen existing skills and learn new ones.

“Whether or not they have a natural gravitation towards poetry, or they already enjoy singing, or they already enjoy storytelling, it's about developing those natural gifts that they have, but also exposing them to things that maybe they haven't considered,” he said.

He said it’s important for working artists to lift up younger artists as they plan for the future.

“We do have to think about how we can't always do this forever, we have to think about the next generation making great art,” he said.

As society attempts to recover and rebalance from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, performance can be a powerful tool for people to process their feelings. Gierhart said Actors Theatre wanted to “have as few barriers as possible” for people to participate in the program.

“It's how you discover yourself, it's how you learn to engage with the things happening around you. It's how you process trauma, it's how you celebrate victories, it's really important to make sure that people have access to that,” Gierhart said.

The New Voices masterclass with UNIVERSES at Actor Theatre of Louisville will be on weekdays from July 10 until July 21. Parents, guardians and interested students can sign up for the program until July 5.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

News Arts and CultureYouth Reporting
Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.