Costa Mesa, CA, USA
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Travel Costa Mesa Blog

Summer at the Center

Posted on July 25, 2013 | 10:01am | Travel Costa Mesa

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts 22nd annual “Summer at the Center” program teaches, inspires and empowers at-risk teens in Orange County during a two-week training program that culminates in a public performance.

SATC

SATC is a collaboration between Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the Orange County Department of Education ACCESS (alternative, community, and correctional education school and services) and Bill Brawley, artistic director of The Young Americans and SATC.

SATC uses performing arts to inspire, motivate and provide underserved youths to interact in a positive environment with peers.  Throughout the two weeks, the students learn several technical abilities like singing, dancing, choreography and improvisation, while incorporating valuable real-life skills like public speaking, gaining confidence and building self-esteem.  The course is taught by theater professionals under the direction of Brawley and his wife Robyn.  Brawley has directed the program since its first year in 1991.

SATC

Participants in the program comes from a variety of backgrounds, but most often, they have endured unfortunate circumstances like gang affiliations, physical, mental and substance abuse, learning disabilities and more.  The program enables the participants to have a venue, and more importantly, a voice.  For many, SATC is their first outlet and opportunity to welcome a positive change in their lives.

SATC

Program alumni are also very much a part of the current SATC program as they assist in teaching and provide reinforcement to the students.  Alumni also serve as a real life symbol of success and enable the current participants to commonalities with a person who went through a situation similar to their own.

Participant are chosen through an interview process instead of an audition.  The interviews allow the program directors to assess each individual and get a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding them.  The interviews also enables the program directors to choose applicants that they feel will become one as a group.  This allows the participants to strive towards the goal of committing to improving their lives as a person and a performer during the two weeks.

SATC

Along with the many valuable lessons learned throughout the program, SATC also gives the students five-units of arts credit towards their regular school curriculum.  For some, the earned credits are enough for them to make the transition back into school from continuation programs and enables them to graduate on time.

SATC

After just minutes of watching the rehearsals it becomes apparent that the participants in the SATC program are thoroughly enjoying the experience.  The sounds of music, laughter and song emanated from the Dodge Education Center as the students practiced to hone their skills.  All of the students wore the expression of joy as they took turns on center stage while they improvised in front of the rest of the group.

SATC

It’s certainly an exciting proposition: to take students who have little to no acting, singing or dancing experience and produce an hour-long live performance within two weeks.  I know that I’m eagerly anticipating their performances, so I can witness the students soak up the spotlight and become stars for a day.  The opportunity for them to take to the stage doesn’t just represent their newly acquired abilities as performing artists, it symbolizes their transformation as people and the power the arts have at enriching all of our lives.

SATC

The free public performances will be staged in the Samueli Theater on August 3 at 12:30, 3:30 and 7:30 pm. Once the program and performances are complete, the SATC group will reunite at SCFTA to be part of the audience to see Sister Act.  For many of the students, seeing the Broadway production will be another first – watching a live theater show.