The process begins several months before “play week,” when a particular play is chosen. The school holds try-outs and casts the parts. Scripts are sent from the Academy and students begin memorizing their lines and rehearsing. On the Sunday evening preceding the performance, the Academy of Arts team arrives on the scene with props, stage sets, costumes, make-up, theatrical lighting, professional sound system (and anything else you’d need for a top notch performance).
“Play Week” begins first thing Monday morning. For that one week, regular classes are suspended and the intensive work begins -- all day, each day, with a full dress rehearsal on Thursday evening. This culminates into a performance on Friday night and sometimes Saturday as well. Students are taught and utilized in every aspect of putting on the performance. Some of course, have parts in the play while others work to create or update props, work with costumes, lighting, makeup, etc.
This may sound like an easy week, but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, what often happens is a mini revival breaks out! That’s because the Academy is about so much more than putting on a play, or even putting on a Christian play. By the time they arrive, they have put an immense amount of planning, preparation and most importantly, prayer into each week-long seminar. They want to fully equip the kids who will play the parts, so that God will speak through them (and to them) in the process. Interwoven into all the preparations for the play are intensive devotional messages each day that impact and challenge the kids greatly. I can tell you firsthand The Academy has had a profound impact on the life of my son, and countless other students we know.
As they travel throughout the school year conducting seminars in various schools, they are also looking for potential summer drama team members. Interestingly, they aren’t seeking the “most talented” performers. Instead, they look for students who are standouts among their peers because of their faith, those with humble hearts and who love to serve. Out of thousands of kids they see throughout the year, only 40 are selected for their summer drama teams. These students give up their own summer plans to travel on a team and minister through drama.
They report to South Carolina the first week of June, and spend two intensive weeks in “training camp,” learning and rehearsing their play, building their sets, etc. Then, the tours begin. Three teams (Midwest, Eastern and Southern) then depart for their respective tours where they remain until the second week of August, when all the teams return. The teams (ranging in size from 10-15 members) spend every day together, traveling and performing, from one city to the next, all summer long. It is a humbling, challenging, faith-strengthening, character-building, yet completely amazing experience. I know this because my son has had the privilege of traveling with them three different summers. By the end of each tour, the teams have become a family, and leaving to return home is always very hard. The experience of traveling on summer drama teams -- ministering, helping to bring people to Christ, staying in host homes and experiencing the Lord’s protection and provision for their needs is life-changing. The relationships my son has with his former teammates run so deep, he cherishes any opportunity to get together with them, when they are ministering in the area, or even just traveling through in remotely close proximity.
It is for this reason it’s such a joy to host these kids when they’re in town, like a couple of weeks back when they were here conducting a seminar for my son’s former high school. As my son has adopted them as siblings, so too my husband and I have adopted them as our kids. They, and the Academy of Arts hold an enormous place in our hearts, and today I want to offer special thanks and praise to the Lord for them.
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May this Thursday find you thankful…
P.S. If you’re interested in talking with the Academy about working with your school or home school group, or if your church would be interested in hosting a summer drama team performance, please see the website for contact information.