By Dylan Renfrow
November 15, 2018
Hello everyone! My name is Dylan Renfrow and I am one of the Acting and Production Apprentices as well as a member of the 2018 school tour production of Winnie the Pooh. My tenure as the bear of very little brain has been a wonderful experience. Over the past month and a half, we have brought the Hundred Acre Wood to thousands of children all over Saint Petersburg and the surrounding cities.We had somewhere in the ballpark of 65 total performances. We also have two public performances at American Stage coming up in December!
Check out our shiny new van!
(L-R) Matt Acquard, Dylan Renfrow, Drew Street, Sadie Lockhart, Courtney McLaren
- A normal day for us looks a little something like this:
- Wake up somewhere between 5am-7am depending on our call time that day.
- Load everyone up into the van and head to our first school.
- Unload the van and perform the show!
- Pack up and head out because it is…
- LUNCH TIME!
- Unload the van at school #2 and perform.
- Pack up and head home at around 3pm.
For the past eight weeks I have been stuffed into a van with my fellow castmates and I could do it eight weeks more. They have become great friends and essentially a second family to me. Their passion and dedication to the work we’re doing has brought out the best in me as an actor and a person. We get up every day knowing that what we do brings smiles to the faces of thousands of children and their teachers. We bring theatre into the lives of children, some of whom have never been involved in the arts in any capacity. I have experienced firsthand students that are afraid of going to school, but we have been given the opportunity to take their minds off things that bother them and transport them into a land of happiness and wonder.
“Sing ho, for the life that we live!”
(L-R) Matt Acquard (Eeyore/Kanga), Sadie Lockhart (Owl), Drew Street (Christopher Robin/Rabbit), Dylan Renfrow (Winnie The Pooh), Courtney McLaren (Piglet/Roo)
You may recognize several of the cast as former Acting and Production Apprentices. Courtney, Sadie, Matt, and our costume designer Ally are all previous apprentices! Here is what Sadie has to say about what it’s like going through the program and then coming back for tour:
“It is such a joy to come back and perform in and tour manage the school tour. During my apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to perform in the school tour of George’s Marvelous Medicine. After last year’s Rikki Tikki Tavi it is really neat to return for a third year. There is something so magical happening at American Stage through all of their programming from the main stage all the way through their education programs. It is still just as special seeing the students’ faces light up in excitement as we carry in the set, assemble it, and begin the show. They rejuvenate my love for theatre and for school tour again and again. With all the craziness going on in our world, I love that we get to bring a ray of sunshine into their day and encourage them to use their imaginations. I am continually so honored and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this team.”
And Courtney would like to say:
“I am extremely excited and grateful to return to American Stage so soon after the end of my apprenticeship. I have been spending my fall with American Stage’s school tour production of Winnie the Pooh and will be spending the holiday season playing Lydia Wickham in MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY. It’s an odd sensation ‘being a former apprentice’ for I am so used to referring to myself as an apprentice. Even before my time at American Stage I completed several apprenticeships and was used to viewing myself in that light. So, it appears I am truly at a new fork in the road, having arrived to a new point in my development as an actor. This is an exciting and disorienting time for me. However, I could not feel more blessed than to have American Stage, a company who has provided for my education, continue to support me in the continual growth of my career. In short, returning to American Stage provides a wealth of emotions, but chiefly it makes me feel truly lucky.”
Last, but not least, Matt would like to add:
“I believe that it is one’s duty as an artist to not only create meaningful work, but also to inspire and introduce the next generations of artists as well. That is what I love about American Stage and its school tour. Being able to perform for over 20,000 students throughout the county is one of the most enriching experiences I have had so far. Though the mornings may be early, it is worth every second since many of these students we perform for will have their first exposure to this amazing art form and hopefully explore the theatrical medium and/or have a distraction from this scary world we live in. As a former apprentice I know the tools and skills I learned during my tenure will allow me to continue to perform and advocate for the arts and I look forward to every opportunity I can get to return to this wonderful company.”
I hope you all get to join us at one of the public performances at American Stage on December 15th & 23rd at 11am! Tickets and info at americanstage.org/SCHOOLTOUR
Many happy returns of the day!