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TOO Showcase Dates: Friday, July 20 & Saturday, July 21 | Wednesday, July 25; Thursday, July 26; & Friday, July 27 | Wednesday, August 1; Thursday, August 2; & Friday, August 3
Performances will follow select Mainstage performances for BAD JEWS. Apprentice Showcase is free & open to the public.

COURTNEY-MCLAREN_Sm Today is the day!; 07/20/18:
By Courtney McLaren

Today is the day! Today we open our original work, “TOO To Tell, To Relate”. It has been a long road with many triumphs and challenges, each experience a spectacular learning opportunity. TOO is the culmination of each skill set and experience we have had within our year at American Stage. One such skill set is video editing. With the showcase coming up, each day this week we released an ‘interview with an apprentice video’ on youtube, edited by apprentice, Courtney McLaren. Thus, providing our audience with a chance to get to know us each a little more. Listen in as we learn a little more about our apprentices; Taylor Sweat, Kody Hopkins, Tato Castillo and Tarilabo Koripamo. Learn more at!




“TOO” Much Work!; 07/13/18:
By Kody Hopkins, Tato Castillo, Taylor Sweat, Tarilabo Koripamo and Courtney McLaren

If you’ve been keeping up with our Facebook, you know that soon the 17-18 American Stage Apprentices will be putting on a showcase (next week soon, in fact!). Though we’ve all been working together to make the showcase as awesome as it’s going to be, we’ve also been doing a bit of dividing and conquering. We are all united by our desire to tell a compelling story and use our own voices, but we also have our individual talents we wanted to contribute. Kody has been working extensively on the script and has begun the sound design; Taylor has been choreographing and preparing to design the lights; Tari has done some amazing work with our photoshoot and designing our poster; Courtney has been our videographer and made some incredible original work herself; and Tato has brought great, authentic content. Read on below to get some first hand accounts of all the work we’ve been doing!



So, while I’ve been doing a lot of writing, I have to give Courtney credit for coming up with the concept that tied our showcase together. The concept of “TOO” is basically a show within a show: we let the audience in on our personal lives as apprentices — where we came from, how we met, where we’ve gone — but intersperse it with scenes and monologues from published material. The line between scenes as us and as other characters starts out defined, but begins to fall away as the story is told as a means to convey the blurred lines of created content and how people see themselves in the art they witness or make. Writing the scenes of ourselves has been a lot of fun, especially as I’ve noticed I have a better ear for some apprentice’s voices than others (ahem, Tari). The biggest challenge has been trying to create a common thread through these scenes, especially within a limited time frame. It can also be difficult to write scenes of confrontation or awkwardness when the characters are literally the people you work with! What has helped me has been trying to key in on what each person seems to want to bring specifically to the showcase — what it is that matters to them and what they want to talk about. In spite of the challenges, I think we have made some unique and far reaching art that I am excited to share with you all!



This is such a hands on and creative group that I’ve really enjoyed the process. I like to step back and aid the creative process passively from time to time. I have done that this time around by making suggestions on the overall concept and purpose of the show and sometimes just listening and trying to repeat what I thought was the most interesting ideas. I wrote a few small pieces but didn’t really try to make them part of the show. I wrote them as a way to keep the creativity going in my own mind. However, the team discovered one of the things I wrote and liked it for a commercial. I look forward to bringing that commercial to life and also myself as a character within this place. Kody really did an amazing job as a playwright with this one. (Tato forgets to shout himself out for bringing to the table a really funny, but equally insightful and impactful monologue!).



The showcase has been on my mind pretty much since we found out that the apprentice showcase was even a thing. I’ve been working on the stage and production management side of the showcase since February, creating calendars with proposed meeting dates and rehearsals, as well as serving as the main point of contact between the apprenti and the production team at American Stage to make sure all of our wonderful ideas can actually come to fruition. Fortunately, backstage is not the only place you’ll see me for this showcase as the apprenti are letting me share the stage with them! The thing that I’m most proud of in this showcase is a dance that I was able to lead choreograph. I had taken a choreography class during my last semester in college for fun, but fell in love with it and jumped at the first chance to be able to choreograph again. The dance explores what goes through a person’s mind who suffers from anxiety and depression, namely what keeps us from wanting to make contact with others when we suffer from these bouts. While it may not touch on everyone’s experience (because those with the illness will cope differently), I hope that in creating this dance, I am able to give a voice to those who may not be as vocal about it. The performing arts haven’t really touched on mental illness, but I’m determined to start that conversation and reach out to those who suffer as well. I am most looking forward to creating a light design for our showcase! Our wonderful lighting designer for BAD JEWS, Phillip Franck, has created the perfect mixture of light for the given space, which includes some pretty sweet color changing LED lights. I’m excited to finally mix tech with script after seeing the words on paper for so long.



Along with massive help from the Marketing/Advancement team here at American stage and my fellow Apprenti, I got to work on our Show Poster.

Working on a show Poster is hard people- it is fun- but it is not all just fun. I had to first think about composing pictures, with the help of Sadie Lockhart (Photographer) we set out on the streets of St. Petersburg to take if I do say so myself stunning pictures. However, this was a blessing and a curse.

Stunning as all these images were, I had to come up with various types of posters that represented visually the themes of what our production TOO is. So the question for me this week as I designed was how do I evoke interest? I made three samples and showed it to the rest of the team, and after a lengthy discussion, we decided on two final posters based on the elements that stood out to us most (such as color pallette and overall feel).

Brushing up my skills in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign was a huge part of the success of this process. I do hope when you see the finished version, you feel everything the other Apprentices and I feel when we look at our poster.



Showcase, showcase, showcase. That’s been the name of the game recently, up until the past few weeks, our work has been largely conceptual. However since then, we have constructed and cut the script, begun rehearsing, directing, designing, and promoting our show.

I have been working largely on marketing, and organizing when our marketing materials will go out. It has been challenging for this is the first time I have really dipped my toe into the task of marketing a show. We had a meeting with American Stage’s marketing team yesterday to understand a little more about the strategy that goes into marketing a show.  We discussed many topics such as, when you roll marketing tools out, why you roll them out, who you are marketing your items to, how you change your products slightly with various audiences, etc. Trying to understand these factors and so much more relating to the world of marketing has for sure, been a challenge. There are always learning curves, things you didn’t expect, the blessing, yet challenge, of combining many people’s passionate thoughts on a subject and then trying to distill it down, etc. Yet, all in all, I would describe this as a valuable learning experience.

In relation with that, I have also been editing the content for the promotional videos we will be putting out. Learning more about using Adobe Premiere Pro has been a delight honestly. I have wanted to learn more about video editing and camera work for quite some time. To be able to start that process myself in a hands-on way has truly been a blessing. However, I know I am only scratching the surface and that there is so much more to learn, which is thrilling, yet also frustrating at times. I know that if I only had more experience and know how, my work time would be cut in half. Yet, it’s all a part of the process!


You can find the dates for our showcase (which is FREE, by the way!) and more information about all things Youth Initiative by heading over to!