Dear Denver Artists,
I came to Denver in 1991 to be the Head of Acting at the National Theatre Conservatory at the DCPA. Tony Church was the Dean and we worked closely for many years developing the program, teaching, directing and working together. Tony was an actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company and he combined an extraordinary professional life in the theatre with a love for actors and all artists and a commitment to training. I was a young director from The Yale School of Drama with experience in new play development and a love of Shakespeare found touring with the Acting Company out of Juilliard. After 18 years of working with extraordinary faculty, students, and professional artists I developed strong ideas about actor training and I confirmed what I always knew; that actors were an essential force in the theatre and necessary to the health of our culture. I also learned that too often these sensitive, passionate, complex people were undervalued and under supported in the creative process and in their careers.
After leaving the NTC in 2008 I spent two years teaching, directing, observing and learning about the Denver theatre and arts community. I have come to the belief that Denver Culture is growing and developing at an amazing rate and that we are on the verge of a major break through in the professional arts. Actors from the NTC have graduated, gone away and returned to Denver. Actors who have been in Denver for many years have had many more varied opportunities as new companies keep emerging. It seems it might be possible to have a professional life in the theatre and arts in Denver after all.
I want to support actors. I want to create a professional Studio where actors can get professional actor training at whatever stage they are in their development. And I want to support the actor as artist; the actor as a necessary contributor to our community and the arts as a whole. Acting is a collaborative discipline. Actors need other actors and artists to work. I want to offer actors a place to meet actors and artists from all disciplines to study, explore new ideas and new forms and develop new work.
In an age where economics are controlling so many of our decisions we are moving away from process in education to the pursuit of product over all. Students worry about finding a job and career that will pay the bills as opposed to pursuing their passion and talent. Training programs are turning away from theatre and focusing on film and video production. The technology we have at our fingertips is extraordinary and we must celebrate it, study it, teach it and use it in our work. But we cannot abandon the language and literature of live performance. My mentor, Gerry Gutierrez, used to talk about the monks in the Middle Ages keeping the alphabet alive. We must keep the performing arts alive by training the next generation of American artists in the language and literature of the theatre. Visionbox will focus primarily on the study of Acting through the exploration of the language, writing, history, and technique in the theatre.
We have been moving farther and farther away from a simple good life. The stress and anxiety of our difficult economy is the focus of our day-to-day experience. We need artists now more than ever, we have doctors to heal our bodies, but we need artists to heal our souls. They need our continued support and we must also nurture the next generation. I have been blessed with a life in the theatre. I have been a professional director and acting teacher for almost 30 years and my work has given me the strength to endure and to have faith. But my own ego is no longer tied to my own work. I feel great happiness in helping other artists become the best of themselves. I want to help students and professionals grow and find their own voice by sharing my education, training and experience. I hope you will help Visionbox become a reality by being with us as the work begins.
Jennifer McCray Rincon