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John Lamb, Published February 26 2012

Theatre B spotlights summer stage with teen program

FARGO – Theatre B is raising the curtains on a new teen-based summer program for the area.

B.E.A.T. (B Emerging Artists Training) gives 15 high school students an intense, six-week learning experience with a Theatre B troupe working toward a final production.

Tryouts are from 2 to 5 p.m. March 24 and March 25 for students in grades eight to 12. The program starts on June 4 and closes with performances of Mary Zimmerman’s 1996 play “Metamorphoses” over the weekends of July 13 and 20.

Carrie Wintersteen, the company’s executive director, says Theatre B offers different opportunities than other summer programs such as Trollwood, Gooseberry or Act Up (formerly known as Broadway Lights).

B.E.A.T. will focus on relatively new dramas, not musicals. “Metamorphoses” is contemporary retelling of age-old Greek myths with themes on identity, relationships, incest and value and wealth.

Also, the limited size of the group’s Main Avenue theater, 72 seats, restricts the number of participants and gives each student more individual time with experienced ensemble members.

“For those kids who don’t think of themselves as singer/dancers, the bigger ensembles don’t always give them that one-on-one attention,” Wintersteen says.

She says smaller ensembles tend to be tighter-knit, removing cliques that would separate actors from design or tech workers.

Ensemble members working with students on things like movement and vocal techniques create a learning experience for both groups.

“To do that in an environment where students occasionally see teachers fail then come back to learn, that’s a good thing for everyone,” Wintersteen says.

Theatre B members could even take active parts in the summer productions, she says.

B.E.A.T. starts after Second Stage, an eight-year collaboration with Trollwood Performing Arts School, came to an end over “artistic differences,” Wintersteen says.

Her husband, David, a Theatre B co-founder, says B.E.A.T. will be a continuation of what Second Stage was.

“If Fargo-Moorhead lost this program, those opportunities would be lost for students,” he says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533