Students dabble in different performing arts techniques and styles taught by Broadway, TV and film professionals.

This summer, the Stephens College Theatre program is hosting a variety of talented industry professionals as instructors and ‘pop-in’ guests during the Summer Performing Arts Intensive (SPAI), a program for B.F.A. in Acting and Musical Theatre students who have completed their first year at Stephens.  

During SPAI, Stephens students are focusing on the process of the work in a real-time, virtual six-week format; the intensive began on May 11 and runs through June 19.

SPAI offers an amazing opportunity for students to focus on the process of the work. Our students are being introduced to new techniques and new instructors who are highly respected in their field. Through this rigorous training, students are gaining confidence and depth in their work.”

- Jennifer Hemphill, Program Director, Program Chair of Musical Theatre

During SPAI, students get the opportunity to dabble in different performing arts techniques and styles while adding to their actor’s “tool box,” which consists of techniques and tricks that a performer uses to help get into a character or state of being before jumping into a song and/or monologue.

“One of our guest professors said, ‘Some things in this course you will continue to use and explore whereas somethings you probably won’t use as much,’” said Camri Anderson ’22, a musical theatre major. “Acting is a very individual exploration and some tools may work very well for me, but may not work very well for someone else. We are all different individuals trying to create a masterpiece with our diction, body and mind.”

This summer, students are taking courses in Lessac Voice & Bodywork (Lessac master instructor/actress/singer Nancy Krebs); Movement for the Actor (Movement specialist/actor/professor Jason Bohon); and The Michael Chekhov Acting Technique (Chekhov specialist/actor/musician Séamus Maynard). In addition, a course in Self-Tape/On-Camera Techniques will be taught by Hemphill as well as by over 10 “pop-in” guest instructors, including John Hemphill and Claire Rankin, cast members of the national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen”; and TV, film and theater professionals like Lauren “Coco” Cohn, Stacia Fernandez, Aaron Lazar and Geoffrey Wade, among others. Read instructor bios > 

Stephens theatre major Rachel Ives ’22 said she’s learning how to use her imagination to her advantage in the voice/diction and stage movement courses. 

“My imagination has become a place for me to retreat to for mental stability and explore for inspiration,” she said. “In order to be a strong actor and give raw and vulnerable performances, we have to be mentally strong. It is necessary, or else the work will be damaging to our minds and emotional state. By learning how to navigate my imagination, I am tuning in to my inner environment and emotions.”


About SPAI

Summer Performing Arts Intensive (SPAI) is a part of the three-year/two-summer B.F.A. theatre program at Stephens in the School of Arts and Humanities. This summer, SPAI is being held as a real-time, virtual six-week program due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under normal conditions, SPAI will be held as a three-week, on-campus intensive; it replaces the longtime Summer Theatre Institute that produced free shows for the community. Learn more > 

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