AFYP In the Spotlight: Summer Interns!

Every summer, AFYP has an open application for young people to become interns! Interns have many duties during our Summer Acting Camp, ranging from assisting groups to curbside check in. Today, we'll hear from Emily Wade, Antonio DeMarco, and Vivian Lemons about their experiences as a Summer Intern!

Emily has interned at Summer Acting Camp since Summer 2014. Emily was a college sophomore at William & Mary when she began her AFYP journey and has become an essential member of the Group 4 team with growing responsibilities each summer.

Antonio interned with AFYP for the very first time this summer! He spent two weeks as a junior counselor with Group 4. Junior counselors are under the age of 16 and often are working their very first job!

Vivian has been a student with AFYP for years, appearing in productions such as You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Alice in Wonderland, Jr. Her first year as a junior counselor was Summer 2016. Vivian assisted with Musical Theater and Movement at Summer Acting Camp.  "Even the simplest tasks, such as cleaning, were never boring or a hassle, thanks to the amazing staff and campers that I had the pleasure of interacting with!" Vivian commented.

How has your internship helped your personal development?

VIVIAN: I’ve been with AFYP for quite a few years, starting as a student, and having the opportunity to work as a counselor this summer truly gave me a more thorough appreciation for everything the Red Shirts really do.  Not only were they working as hard as they could to make all of the students happy, but they were also incredibly supportive and welcoming of each and every staff member.  Working alongside so many talented and compassionate people gave me inspiration to make a difference in this world.  Watching amazing interactions between students and staff was a rewarding experience that has made me a kinder and more patient person.  

ANTONIO: My internship at AFYP showed me that you can be a mature and responsible adult while also being original, creative, and weird at the same time. 

EMILY: I grew immensely as a leader because of my work at AFYP. Being an intern I was given many opportunities to lead and teach the campers. I appreciated the amount of trust the whole staff put in me and became more confident because of this. 

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as an intern?

VIVIAN: As an intern, the most valuable lesson that I learned was to always be alert, constantly looking for ways to help people.  In AFYP this meant offering to help another counselor with a script, throwing away extra trash, or reviewing choreography with a student that looked confused or discouraged so that they didn’t give up. However, this lesson has a variety of real-world applications. Everyday, people can look for ways to be kind and lend a helping hand. If everyone did this, the world would be a much better place.  

ANTONIO: The most valuable thing I learned from AFYP is that good things that you do for these kids have the most positive effect on you and those around you.

EMILY:  The most valuable lesson I learned as an intern was how amazing the campers are. It was so fun to get to know the campers each week, to get to see the different personalities, and to see the improvement in the students as the week went on!

Share a favorite (short!) memory from your summer

VIVIAN: One of my favorite memories from this past summer is watching Group 1 (5 and 6 years old) perform a musical theatre song and dance that I helped teach.  All of the kids looked so excited and thrilled to be performing, and it made me feel so overjoyed to think that I had possibly helped contribute to their happiness.  

ANTONIO: My favorite memory is everything about AFYP!

EMILY: My favorite memory is having awesome dance parties every morning in the parking lot. I never knew I could be so enthusiastic in the morning, but put on some High School Musical or the Pokemon theme song and I’m all in.

What would you say to a young person who wants to apply for this program?

VIVIAN: Helping at AFYP never feels like work, and what kind of a job could be better than that? It is an incredible experience that is rewarding, challenging and inspiring.  AFYP has helped shape who I am today.

ANTONIO: You should totally apply. You will have so much fun and make friends that you will have for a lifetime. At the end of the day, you feel that you have done something truly incredible.

EMILY: Apply for this program! Not only are you going to learn how to lead others and fine tune your own acting tools, but you get to make incredible friends on staff. This is the best job I’ve ever had!

AFYP In the Moment: Spring Break Camp

We are ONE MONTH away from our 2017 Spring Break Camp!  And, brand new this year, we are offering a Spring Break Camp for ages 12-18!  

Not only is our Spring Break Camp an awesome way to spend your days off from school with your favorite redshirts; but it can also be a great opportunity to try out acting/theatre for the the very first time!  Each day has different theme, so students stay engaged and get to try out new theater topics throughout the week.  This set-up also allows us to offer for individual days, as well as the full week.  Want to try your hand at directing?  Sign up for directing day!  Don't want to sit in your house all week?  Sign up for all five days!  We continue to do our best to keep our programs flexible!

Each day, actors will explore the theme through theater games, activities, and workshops.  We follow a typical camp-style schedule that allows breaks for snacks and lunch.  

Check out this year's Theme schedule: 

Ages 5-11

Monday: ACTING
A day to explore the fun of acting!

Love to sing and dance? Spend the day learning an energetic musical theatre number!

Today is all about your imagination. What story will you create?

Thursday: ACTING
A day delving into acting techniques culminating in a collaborative performance with the older directing students!

Games, games, games! Learn about building comedy on stage.

Ages 12-18

Monday: ACTING
A day to explore the fun of acting!

Love to sing and dance? Spend the day learning an energetic musical theatre number!

Today is all about your imagination. What story will you create?

A day delving into directing techniques culminating in a collaborative performance with the younger acting students!

Games, games, games! Learn about building comedy on stage.

AFYP in the Spotlight: Zach and Andrew

Today we are back and putting Mr. Zach and Mr. Andrew in the Spotlight!  Zach and Andrew both graduated with playwriting concentrations and will be leading our teens on our Playwriting Intensive Workshop next Monday (Feb 20) and will be teaching the Creative Writing For Stage and Screen class that starts today (Feb 14)!  We interviewed both of them to learn a little more!

When Did You First Start Writing?  Did Something Inspire You?

Andrew: I started writing seriously around my second year of college. I had always done it as a hobby and side projects, but never really felt like it was a career path that I wanted to follow. I went to go see a show with my brother in D.C. and it was the first time I had noticed the audience being so engrossed with a production. Hearing the conversation afterwards and the immediate impact the show had made me want to pursue writing more seriously. 

Zach: I started writing in 3rd or 4th grade, I believe. I was really into sports books at the time, so I wrote about a soccer game that I participated in a few days earlier.  I still write mainly about my own life!

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

Andrew: I enjoy telling stories that are more slice of life with magical realist twists on them. The stories that interest me the most are the ones that seem average or ordinary that everyone goes through, but trying to tell it in a more extraordinary way. I think that a lot of people believe their life is boring, small or uneventful, but sometimes those insignificant moments are the ones we connect with the most because we all experience them at some point. 

Zach: I want to tell simple stories, bold stories, stories that make you laugh until you cry, stories that come from real life and I want to put a fresh twist on stories that have been told.

What is your favorite play or screenplay?

Andrew: My favorite play is constantly changing as I read more and more of them. Anything by Annie Baker instantly becomes a favorite of mine (John, Circle Mirror Transformation Play, The Flick), but currently I am in love with Constellations by Nick Payne. It's so simple, elegant and beautiful. And, to jump on the bandwagon, I'd say that La La Land is my favorite screenplay as of now. 

Zach: My favorite play is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and my favorite screenplay is Whiplash.

What are you most excited to teach your Creative Writing for the Stage and Screen students about?

Andrew: One of the most exciting things about teaching a creative writing class is getting to hear all of the different ideas and styles that the students bring. Every person brings something unique to the table and no form of writing is considered to be the absolute correct way to write. It's a trial and error process about finding what works for you and working on perfecting that. We are here to help you find your voice and what styles work for you, but the more exciting part is getting the chance to see how that develops. Writing is such a personal form of art that each piece someone brings is a gift in itself. 

Zach: I am most excited to teach the students about the different ways that they can make their stories relate to a world of readers and audience members.

AFYP In the Know: Theater History--Chinese & Japanese Theater

In honor of our Spring Showcase, Mulan Jr, starting on Saturday, we thought it would be fun to focus this AFYP In the Know on the history of theater in Japan and China.  These forms of theater developed entirely separate from Western forms, and are very, very old.  In fact, Japanese Noh theater is the oldest form of theater that is still regularly practiced in modern day!

Pekingese shadow puppets

Pekingese shadow puppets


References to theatrical entertainments (like clowning, music, and acrobatics) can be found in Chinese texts dating back to 1500 B.C.E. during the Shang dynasty.  

By the time we reach the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E-220 C.E), shadow puppetry is beginning to become a popular theatrical form.  Shadow puppet plays often depicted stories of great adventures or fantasy.  Two distinct types of shadow puppetry developed in China.  Their primary differences were how the puppets were constructed.  Both types of puppets were constructed from colored leather, with incredible detail. Cantonese puppets were larger and the puppetry rods attached perpendicularly to the puppets, so that they would not cast a shadow.  Pekingese puppets were smaller and more delicate than Cantonese puppets.  The rods for Pekingese puppets were visible, but attached at the neck of the puppet before bending out of the way, so they didn't not interfere with the shadow figure.  In both Cantonese and Pekingese shadow puppetry, superstition said that the puppets could come alive at night.  In order to prevent this, the puppets were taken apart each night, with the heads and bodies of the puppets stored separately.

Shadow puppets in performance

Shadow puppets in performance

More traditional acting styles, using human actors, also developed.  The Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.) was known as "The Age of 1000 Entertainments", and society was more focus on leisurely activities, arts, and entertainment.  During this time Emperor Xuanzong established the first known academy for acting and music called The Pear Garden, for the pear trees planted in the courtyards of the school.  Emperor Xuanzong oversaw the 300 students who trained each year at The Pear Garden in music, dance, and acting.  The acting form developed in the Pear Garden was primarily musical.  It is from this historical school that Chinese actors are commonly called "Children of the Pear Garden" and the phrase "pear garden" can refer to Chinese opera.  

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), dramas became more sophisticated, with 4-5 act structures.  This structure remains mostly intact today, in Beijing Operas.


The four most well-known types of Japanese theater are all still in practice today.  These types are: Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki, and Bunraku.

a noh performance showing the "SHiTE" and "Hayashi"

a noh performance showing the "SHiTE" and "Hayashi"

Noh and Kyogen are the oldest forms of Japanese theater, dating back to the 14th century.  It was developed by a man named Kan'ami and his son, Zeami.  Noh is a very traditional and structured art form, with training for actors beginning as early as age 3.  In performance, the actors' movements are very, very precise, because the smallest shift in the body or the facial expression will mean something new.  It is often a family tradition, with sons following in their fathers' footsteps to become Noh actors.  Historically Noh and Kyogen plays were performed only by male actors, but the first women--who began performing in the 1940s--were the daughters of esteemed Noh actors. 

kyogen actors in performance

kyogen actors in performance

The traditional structure of a performance is to have five Noh plays, with brief Kyogen in between each play as an intermission of sorts.  Kyogen are short, comic plays that run about 15 minutes long and usually use 2-3 actors.  The comedy provided respite from the more serious Noh plays.  In Noh performance, highly stylized movements represent complex emotions.  Masks are often worn, especially by background characters.  While Noh is still performed today, the actual storyline of Noh plays hasn't changed much.  Noh focuses on classical stories, where a supernatural character is often transformed into a human.

 Most Noh plays usually involve a chorus, an orchestra, and at least two main actors.  The traditional characters are:

  • Shite - the main role/protagonist
  • Wake - the foil or counterpart to the protagonist
  • Hayashi - the musicians, playing the flute, the hip-drum, the shoulder-drum, and the stick-drum
  • Kyogen - the comedic actors for the Kyogen interlude

Kabuki performers

Kabuki performers

Kabuki theater is most known for its iconic red and white makeup and its elaborate costumes.  The earliest form of Kabuki was actually started by women in the early 1600s, as comic playlets that depicted ordinary life.  This was very popular with lower and middle classes.  The upper and royal classes did not approve of this "mixing" of the classes and banned women from performing in 1629.  However, they took over the Kabuki and began to transform the art form, using all male actors.  Specific poses and make-up represented very specific emotions and characters.  The colors of the costumes were also very important, since the colors expressed the character's primary emotions.  

Kabuki performances lasted the full day.  Kabuki also has a five-act structure, following a very traditional rise and fall of a story.  The Jo, or first act, was a slow opening, introducing the characters and the story.  The Ha, or acts 2-4, sped up the action leading to a great dramatic moment or tragedy in act 3, with battles being common in acts 2 or 4.  Finally, the Kyu, or act five, wrapped up the story in a quick and satisfying conclusion.

bunraku in performance, with master and APPRENTICE (hooded) puppeteers

bunraku in performance, with master and APPRENTICE (hooded) puppeteers

Bunraku is a form of Japanese puppet theater that was founded in the beginning of the 17th century.  Bunraku puppets are three-dimensional, unlike Chinese shadow puppets.  Bunraku involves three types of performers: 

bunraku puppet

bunraku puppet

  • Ningyotsukai--the puppeteers
  • Tay--the chanters
  • Shamisen--the musicians

These complex puppets are extremely detailed, and traditionally need three puppeteers to operate each puppet.  The puppeteers are sometimes hooded, but more often the master puppeteer, in control of the head of the puppet, does not wear a hood.  The puppets are very intricate and their life-like faces often have eyes, mouths, and eyebrows that move.  

Kabuki and Bunraku often share the same plays and stories.