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TRYPS joins Stephens family

February 6, 2014

TRYPS (Theater Reaching Young People & Schools), mid-Missouri’s acclaimed children’s theatre program, will this spring join the School of Performing Arts at Stephens College, officials from both organizations announced today.

As of April 1, TRYPS will become “The TRYPS Institute at Stephens College” and will occupy all three floors of the west wing of Hickman Hall on the corner of College and Broadway.

At Hickman Hall, TRYPS—entering its 15thseason—will operate “business as usual” and will continue to offer its existing roster of classes, camps and plays for mid-Missouri children, families and schools. As The TRYPS Institute at Stephens College, the company will create new children’s theatre classes, hands-on production experience and teaching opportunities for Stephens College students.

“We’re so excited to have a permanent home that lets us grow our programming,” said Jill Womack, TRYPS’s executive artistic director. “It just makes sense. The new space triples our classroom and rehearsal capacity. Stephens College provides a dynamic, creative environment that supports the arts.”

“We are delighted to offer our students the opportunity to develop an expertise in children’s theatre, one of the fastest-growing areas of the performing arts,” Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. “Jill has built TRYPS into a professional company with a reputation for quality and integrity, and we are thrilled that it is becoming a member of the Stephens family.”

Lynch and Womack envision other collaborations on campus as well. TRYPS has recently launched a costume academy, Threads, that may offer classes to students in in both the School of Fashion and Design and the School of Performing Arts. 

“The possibilities are endless,” Womack said. “To connect our mission to Stephens College students and to show them new ways their theatre experiences can lead to viable, creative careers before they graduate is really invaluable.”  

Mimi Hedges, interim dean of the School of Performing Arts, said the school looks forward to collaborative opportunities with The TRYPS Institute.

“Our Stephens students will have the benefit of learning about children’s theatre through planned coursework and practical experiences,” she said. “This will add another training ground to our existing pre-professional programs with great potential for employment upon graduation.”

The TRYPS Institute’s first production at Stephens will be Willy Wonka Jr. April 4-6 at Macklanburg Playhouse. Future productions and recitals will also be held at Warehouse Theatre and in Historic Senior Hall.

Hickman Hall, which previously housed Columbia Independent School, is undergoing renovations. TRYPS families and community members are invited to take a construction tour of the facility from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 16.  

Founded in 1833, Stephens College has a history of innovative, experiential programming. The college’s theatre program is ranked 16th in the country by The Princeton Review.  

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