Student Trips to NYC: Try a a Behind-the-Scenes Workshop About Broadway Acting, Singing and Staging

by Howard Clemens

Theater arts, dance and music students are fascinated with Broadway Theater in New York City. Many take class trips to New York City to experience the theater district, take in a Broadway Musical or two, and eat in New York City restaurants and delicatessens. How many student groups on a NYC tour have also considered a Broadway Workshop? These workshops are designed to enhance acting skills and help students develop a greater understanding of one of the highest and most demanding levels achieved in the acting profession – Broadway acting.

Not too long ago, High School Musical was all the rage for students with acting aspirations. Once it was Wicked and The Lion King, drawing large audiences. Now it is Hamilton that is hot – and tickets hard to obtain. Behind the scenes Broadway Workshops keep up with what is trending on Broadway in some fun and extraordinary ways. The workshops are applicable to theater arts and inspire students to probe deeper into Broadway Musicals. At the same time these learning experiences show the hard and constant daily effort that goes into making sure all parts of the Broadway show work in concert.

Many trip leaders opt for the Broadway Rehearsal or Choir Workshop. The score from the musical the student group will attend is used, making the experience of seeing a Broadway musical more familiar. Students learn about choreography, staging and music from a cast member and a musical director. Choir Workshops focus on learning the vocal score of the musical.

There are other workshops to engage the young actor or actress, including a useful one for every aspiring actor – The Audition Workshop. Then there’s the Improv Workshop, Stage Combat and the Make Up Workshop for students who want to jump right into the action.

For teachers who want student groups to meet real Broadway Actors, Meet the Artist Q & A will be an excellent workshop to do so. Students meet the Broadway actor or actress in a rehearsal studio. Here the group can ask questions about life on Broadway in a private session with the artist, at a show which they may attend later. This is a great way for students to gain insights about life in New York City and the day-to-day demands and scheduling of a Broadway actor or actress.

For the student who already knows how hectic it can be backstage, the Broadway Quick Change workshop may be a great way to learn some tips from the experts. Student tour groups will see how the professionals change costumes quickly and effortlessly. A real Broadway actor will demonstrate a quick change and students will be invited to try it. Students will learn the importance of this skill for the acting profession – where space is often tight and several actors must change in a short period.

As mentioned earlier, Hamilton is now the hit Broadway Musical most theater art students will be familiar with already. The star of the show is loosely based on the historical Alexander Hamilton, a Cuban orphan who came to New York City penniless and emerged as a top writer and revolutionary of his day. The story is told in hip-hop style so students can relate if this is their preference in music. Trip leaders can either select a Hamilton Meet the Artist workshop, where students meet a real actor in his or her rehearsal studio, or the Hamilton Dance workshop, where students are introduced to the choreography behind Hamilton.

As a whole, participating in one or several Broadway Workshops is an active learning experience students will remember for some time. For more information on booking class trip to New York City that includes a Broadway Musical and participating in a workshop, Request a quote.

Students Trips to D.C. Include a Visit to Holocaust Museum: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors

by Howard Clemens

Student tours of Washington D.C. often include a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. A visit to the Museum can be an eye opening experience for students of this generation, who did not live through the war, and were not raised by parents that fought or participated in World War II.

Many of the popular Hollywood films about the holocaust focus on the experience of the Jewish population in Germany. However, the Jewish population throughout Europe was deeply affected by anti-Semitism and genocide. As the war progressed, the Nazis came to invade many different European countries and round up Jewish people for extermination at the camps in Germany.

The First Person Podcast Series by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is a wonderful resource for teachers who want to introduce students to the individual stories of holocaust survivors. It is also a great way to prepare them for a class trip to Washington D.C. that includes a stop to at the Museum on the itinerary.

Visit the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum and select the menu ‘Survivors and Victims.’ Page down and peruse the selections of audio podcasts available for online listening.

Genocide of the Jewish Population in Europe in the 1940s
These first person accounts of war and its consequences to families and whole populations will be an awakening for many students. Students may be familiar with the major battles of World War II and the politics of the war. However, these are personal accounts of intimidation, fear and hiding. Jewish people had to disguise their true identities and survive in a small amount of space – or go from house to house. Separation of husbands and wives and mothers and children was all too common.

These stories will leave students spellbound – and should be digested slowly. Post-listening exercises are recommended so students can fully integrate. A visit to the Museum will also assist in learning more.

The Nazi Resistance in Europe
There are also important details about those who courageously resisted Nazi control and aided those who were fleeing. Many of these allies were non-Jewish and taking a huge chance by hiding those who were. Listening to these Survivor Stories adds a whole new dimension to students’ knowledge and learning about the holocaust of World War II.

Each story has its own unique description of the challenge of a Jewish adult or child leaving war torn Europe. With the German army crossing through many war torn territories, this is quite a challenge and took a great deal of courage for the many who aided those who sought refuge elsewhere.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Nazi’s Stalled
One highlight of the First Person Podcast Series includes the story of Estelle Laughlin: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Poland, some of the fiercest resistance to a Nazi takeover came from an ill- supplied but prepared group of urban fighters. The resistance movement in the Warsaw Ghettos helped families to build secret bunkers before the Germans arrived. While war raged in the streets of
Warsaw families hid in bunkers to survive. This actually saved quite a few families, who were spirited away during lulls in this urban war. Laughlin’s story of resistance and escape is compelling, mostly because she was just a child.

Romania: Hiding from a Pogrom in Iasi
Heim Solomon’s story explains what the word ‘Pogrom’ means. After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on June 21, 1941, the Romanian Jewish population came under the authority of the Germans. The Nazis pressed upon the authorities of Romania to eliminate the Jewish population. The Jewish men of the town were summoned to the City Hall to be reissued new identification. From this room they were escorted into a stone outdoor enclosure. Here German soldiers would either split their heads or shoot them in the temple of he head. Later a garbage truck would clean up the trash. In the July 29th massacre, 4,000 would perish within the perimeter of the stonewall.

This particularly vicious form of genocide was terrifying to the Jewish population. Two of Heim’s brothers scaled the stone wall that night, and hid for 6 days without food or water. They hid themselves in a space above wood piled to the ceiling. Many more were lined up and sent by train and because it was so hot, one half of those who traveled died from lack of water. Solomon’s family was scattered during the roundup and after the Pogrom calmed down, in 4-5 days, they reorganized from their hiding. His scathing account of the inhumane treatment of the Nazi’s is not easy to listen to, however it gives a perspective not often recorded in history books.

Teachers may have to face hard subjects with students and will find creative ways to help them understand materials.

Resistance to fascism, survival in a hostile environment, and the ability to live in secrecy are just a few of the characteristics many survivors share. Students will learn about the struggles and turmoil of separating from family–immediate and extended. Most of all students will learn about the bravery of survivors and those who helped them.

For more information about a student trip to Washington D.C. that includes a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. Request a Quote.