1) What role do adults play in the running of the company?
From the classroom to the boardroom and the audience to backstage, adult participation is important to the mission and process of The Free Theatre (also known as The Free). Though the programming was created and is intended to be run by students, it’s important to note that everything is done under the appropriate supervision of experienced adults. At The Free, our Artists in Residence are professionals with experience in an educational setting who mentor, facilitate, and guide the educational process every step of the way.
2) How is casting determined?
Entry into the program is at the discretion of the Artists in Residence and a member (or members) of the current student body. A past or current student can endorse an application to the company, which may give added weight in consideration to a new company member. Casting within the company for a particular role is done under the guidance of our Artists in Residence and in partnership with the Director, Musical Director, and Choreographer of each particular show. Our goal at The Free is to admit as many students as possible while maintaining a quality process and experience. Preference for roles of a particular gender or ethnicity will be given to anyone auditioning for that role, but these considerations cannot be a substitute for the ability to perform the role well.
3) How will the company be funded?
Like all nonprofit organizations, The Free relies on both contributed and earned income. To keep our mission of providing a free theatre experience to all our students, tax deductible contributions are accepted. Additionally, The Free performs a number of fundraising activities, such as cabarets, auctions, fund drives, and more. Earned income from ticket sales and merchandise also contributes to our operational budget each season. For more information on how you can support The Free Theatre, please visit our website.
4) Will The Free Theatre continue each season?
The Free Theatre was started in 2018 by a small group of like-minded (and like-trained) students. They saw a need for a quality theatre experience, open to all students in grades 7-12, where students could learn and perform together without the high costs associated with local theatrical training in the DMV. Under the guidance of a Young Professionals Board, Advisory Faculty, and Artists in Residence, The Free Theatre selects rising Seniors each season to help create the ideas and curriculum that will shape the season ahead. The Free was established to bring a strong sense of mission and a quality process of theater making to the greater Washington DC metro area, and hopes to continue to do so for years to come!
5) What kind of training are the students getting? Is this really educational?
Today, students learn differently than they did even just a few years ago. Peer-to-peer, experiential learning is a growing and successful trend in education, in both artistic and non-artistic spaces. Non-traditional roles and responsibility sharing environments are quickly becoming the blue print for successful organizations around the world. Our belief at The Free is that there is nothing a well-organized, well supervised, and well-motivated group of young people can’t do; this includes teach. Consider for a second how many aspects of what people learn are done in a peer-to-peer setting. We believe this is directly, if not most directly applicable to the world of theatre. Ours is a world of collaboration by design. Our Artists in Residence, our Advisory Faculty, and our Young Professionals Board (made up of many working artists in the field) help us shape and deliver our curriculum and our programming. From the outset, we have known that we are taking on a new and bold idea – one where everyone is responsible for the learning and teaching – and we are proud to put that model to the test.
6) What makes this company different from other pre-professional programs in the DMV?
While we build on the fundamentals that you should find in any quality theatre experience, we are entirely unique in our approach. As a peer-to-peer, experiential process, you might notice a few differences from the typical classroom, but experience tells us that different is sometimes better. Approved curriculum is a cornerstone for us, safety and creativity are at the center of our work, and expression, heart, and community guide our process. As well, we also stand out by having an aspect of community service incorporated into our program. Throughout the season, students will organize and attend several service outings as a way to give back to the community around us. Students are asked to attend as many outings as possible – Student Service Learning (SSL) hours will be given. Our process is always open, so stop by, visit, and check in with one of our Artists in Residence to learn more!
7) What commitment are students being asked to make to the company?
When you join The Free, you are making a commitment to learn, teach, work, and have fun. Students are expected to take their work and responsibilities seriously, coming to rehearsal prepared and ready to work and collaborate. From there, the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless! Our hope is that from your work inside The Free, you will learn lifelong skills and be compelled to stay a long-term supporter of this innovative, spirited group. We may have mid-season auditions for additional roles within the company, but the beauty of a theatre company is that the community and our commitment to each other will remain throughout the season.
8) What happens if a student needs to miss rehearsals?
Every student has the ability to conflict out during the process for up to four total rehearsals. Considerations may be given for extra rehearsals missed due to extenuating circumstances as they are communicated with the leadership team. If a student must conflict out, it is their responsibility to take note of the work they’ve missed and meet with other students to catch up before rehearsal. We want you to learn, and to learn from you, but that requires attendance and participation. If you are otherwise engaged and cannot participate in a weekly process, it might be best for you to either take a technical role that does not require weekly attendance or wait to audition until you can! Tech weeks and performances are mandatory for everyone.
9) If a student misses multiple rehearsals or violates the code of conduct, what will happen and how will that be determined?
The Free Theatre has a commitment to maintaining a safe, productive, and educational environment for all. Adherence to the Code is important and violations of it will be taken seriously. Our Artists in Residence will be responsible for making certain that the code of conduct is upheld and our code of conduct is reviewed by the current class each season.
10) What will a typical rehearsal look like?
The short answer: professional, educational, and fun! Our rehearsal process will typically include a technique or skills building section, staging, music rehearsal, acting, choreography and/or technical theatre section. A rehearsal may also include a master class or visit from a working artist in the field as part of our educational component.
11) What will performances be like?
Our fully produced, fully staged productions will be a sight to see. We hope you'll be able to attend one, so check out the dates of our upcoming productions on our home page!
12) What kinds of opportunities (tech, directing, etc.) will students have, and how do they get these opportunities? Is The Free just for onstage performers?
If you are interested in technical theatre (including volunteering to usher, sell tickets or make programs), there is a place for you in The Free. Students from all over the greater Washington DC metro area interested in Directing, Choreography, Casting, Stage Management, Properties, Costuming, and more should apply to join us. Students who like to do hair, make up, or even photography should send in an application to join The Free. There are also opportunities for student musicians in our show bands – our goal is to make the process and performance as student-oriented as possible, and student musicians are part of that too. Every job in theatre is important! If you have a special skill or talent, such as marketing, Public Relations, ticket sales, or more: don’t be shy, we want to hear from you!
Still have questions? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get you answers!