This summer teens have been learning the ins and outs of creating a theatrical production at the Lyric Arts Center in Anoka.

The teens are a part of Lyric Arts’ Emerging Artists Company, which was formerly called “Praxis” and “Lyric Arts Youth Theater Ensemble.” Lyric Arts’ Emerging Artists Company, which is in its fourth year, is comprised of high school students from the area.

The program, which runs June to August, teaches 14- to 18-year-olds about the theatrical arts as they work on their own production with the help of professional mentors from Lyric Arts.

“The Emerging Artists Company is a sink or swim opportunity for these young artists to get out there and see what goes into creating theater from top to bottom,” said company manager and stage manager mentor Samson Perry.

This year the Emerging Artists Company will present Ron Hirsen’s “The Frugal Repast” Aug. 16-18 at Lyric Arts.

“This play was chosen because in the past we used to perform productions for a younger audience, and this year we really wanted to step away from that and do something more challenging and that would allow us more creative freedoms,” said company member Annika Hall (Ambroise Vollard), who will be a junior at Andover High School this fall. “‘The Frugal Repast’ is a funny play, but it also has a lot of depth. It has been a lot of fun working on bringing it to the stage.”

The play is set in Paris in 1913, and centers around an etching by Pablo Picasso (Aidan Hefner) called, “The Frugal Repast.” When the work is offered for sale by a prominent art dealer Ambroise Vollard (Annika Hall), two down-on-their-luck circus performers (Cooper McCalister and Gabby Rosen) recognize themselves as the subjects of the work and decide to steal it in the hope of collecting a hefty ransom. A ransom note, a mysterious invitation, aerial acrobatics and mishaps abound as the wealthy and the poor tackle the value of art and life in this hilarious yet poignant show.

“This show is so much different than anything I have seen,” said Rosen, who will be a sophomore at Andover High School. “It has wit, drama, frustration, sadness — all the highs and all the lows. This show handles topics that are still being discussed today and are very important, so being a part of this is very special.”

The play also stars Emerging Artists Company members Val Heideman (Boy), Carter Johnson (Guillaume Apollinaire), Eleanor Lindsay (Gertrude Stein), Kathleen Reandeau (Alice B. Toklas) and Jayla Johnson and Erin Smythe (various roles).

All members of the Emerging Artists Company have been responsible for every aspect of bringing the “The Frugal Repast” to the stage. Company members are required to collaboratively make and execute all decisions such as script selection, marketing and fundraising.

Every element of the production will also be designed and executed by the team including scenery, lighting, costumes, props and sound design.

“As mentors we are empowering these kids to make their own decisions while at the same we guide and introduce them to alternative ways of approaching these decisions,” Perry said. “The kids are their own company, and we’re their mentors to be there through the process.”

The company’s stage managers are Clara Bortnem and Will Rosin, who were mentored by Perry.

“I’ve worked as a stage manager for three years at my high school and elsewhere, and this program really gives you the opportunity to work as a stage manager professionally,” said Rosin, who will be a sophomore at Champlin Park High School this fall. “You really get to call the show, and everything is under your own wing.”

The other mentors include artistic director Sean Byrd, acting director Austen Fisher, technical director and scenic designer Cory Skold, lighting director Erin Belpedio, costume designer Paula Anderson and sound director Kevin Springer.

“The Emerging Artists program at Lyric Arts has been really beneficial to me because you get to spend time and learn from professional adults who are actually working in the field,” Hall said. “It’s an experience that you can’t find anywhere else.”

The Emerging Artists Company is being funded through an Arts Learning Grant that was awarded to the Lyric Arts Center by the Minnesota State Arts Board. The program is also being funded through donations. The fundraising efforts are being led by the Emerging Artists Company members. This year, VStar Entertainment Group is offering matching funds for the first $2,000 in donations made to the program.

To learn more about the Emerging Artists Company and their production of “The Frugal Repast,” visit bit.Ly/2Tj0keJ.


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