Have you ever wondered what it's like working with A.B.L.E.? Find out more about our Teaching Artists and Volunteer Facilitators and about how you can be a part of our ensemble!
What’s The Difference Between a Teaching Artist and a Facilitator?
Teaching Artists work in pairs; they attend rehearsal every week and are responsible for creating lesson plans, prepping materials, and directing the final performance. They must participate as volunteers for at least 2 semesters to learn more about the program before taking on this position.
Each class is rounded out with enough Volunteer Facilitators to make a 2:1 ratio. Facilitators rotate in and out as their schedule permits – averaging around 5 classes as well as the final dress rehearsal and performance. They support the teaching artists in class, occasionally lead group exercises, and ensure all of our actors get individualized attention.
Who Are They?
Many of our facilitators are working actors, but certainly not all! We’ve had schoolteachers, nurses, occupational therapists, office workers and full-time students on our team. Most have fond memories of performing at some point in their lives, and love sharing their experiences and talents with our ensemble.
Fun fact, A.B.L.E. seems to attract a lot of couples that volunteer together - it's certainly not a requirement but it just happens! Right now we have Lawrence & Katie, Kendra & Peter, and Eva & Zach. And two of our long-term volunteer couples - Katie & Tim and Travis & Aislinn - recently left the program to start their own families. Don't worry, A.B.L.E. is definitely open to singles as well, and our teaching staff are all kind-hearted, committed, talented people so if you come single you might not stay that way...
What Do They Do?
Our teaching team wears many hats – they are cheerleaders, confidantes, clowns, and crowd control. They participate in class alongside our actors dancing, singing, and playing different games. They have to intuit the needs of our diverse ensemble whether someone needs a hug or a high five or a bit of quiet time outside the rehearsal studio. Sometimes plans change on the fly, so everyone has to be adaptable and ready to improvise!
During the final performance, everyone shares backstage duties taking care of costume changes and running props to the actors. Facilitators sometime fill in for smaller roles performing with our ensemble.
The biggest job our teaching staff has in performance is Dropping-In. Our goal is for each actor in A.B.L.E. to build confidence and have fun through performing. But memorizing lines is NOT fun - every professional actor has had the nightmare about forgetting lines. It is stressful and puts a lot of pressure on the performer to “get it right”. Similarly, reading lines off a piece of paper is not conducive to a great performance – it makes it harder for the audience to see and hear the actor, and it also blocks the actor from being able to move freely. So for our performances, each actor has a teaching artist or facilitator to drop in their lines. The teaching staff takes on the hard jobs of remembering blocking, cues, and lines, and the actors can focus on expressing themselves, connecting with their scene partner, and having a great time! During the rehearsal process, some actors will wind up memorizing their lines and won’t need their facilitator, but someone is always right behind them just in case to offer support, encouragement, and back-up. Here’s a quick video showing how we put this method to use in The Curse of the Tempest Jewel (and there are many more clips from our previous shows on our YouTube channel that show us in action!)