Five days, five Broadway shows, one incredible adventure. That’s what 18 Gibbons rising juniors and seniors involved in the drama program experienced on their recent school-sponsored trip to New York City.
Now in its third year, Gibbons Drama NYC Theater Intensive Trip is well, just that - intensive. And enjoyable, Kevin Ferguson, chair of the Fine Arts Department and Drama Artistic Director, stressed, adding that along with learning what constitutes excellent acting and excellent theater students also are having fun.
That has been “the vision” from the start, said Ferguson who for years was a regular summertime visitor to NY’s theater scene. “I love and know the city and always had a good time when I visited to see great theater and be inspired,” he said. “Three years ago, I started to share that experience with people who are as passionate about theater as I am.”
What he shares with students, he said, “is a relaxed, deep cultural dive into the place where it (theater) happens.” To that end, Ferguson has been an educator chaperone on the trip since its inception, along with Theater Educator Emily Sartori ’11.
The pair accompany the students on their five-day trek through Manhattan, attending theater performances, eating good food, and, when possible, stopping at local sites, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There are also sojourns to some extraordinary places, like backstage at Carnegie Hall, thanks to contacts Ferguson, a seasoned actor and director, has in the industry.
What does Ferguson hope students gain from the trip? Knowledge and understanding, he quickly answered, adding that many of the trip-goers dream of working in professional theater. He continued: “I want them to understand what it takes to put on a professional theater production and to be a professional actor, as well as to open their minds to different approaches to creating and executing engaging theatrical experiences, and to the fact that failure is an option.”
When the students return to Gibbons, he added, what they learned on the trip, “translates to them becoming better leaders and better backstage workers because they have a better understanding of what makes professional theater work.” They also form a strong bond, he explained, noting that the trip is both an exercise in community and a transformative experience.”