Visionbox Vail Young Conservatory brings Yale Drama School curriculum to local high schoolers
Madi stumbles slightly over her line, but with a quick prompt from Jennifer McCray Rincon, she smoothly glides back on track. She’s delivering the princess of France’s monologue from Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” McCray Rincon is coaching her through delivery, tonation and scansion, or the proper rhythm for reciting lines of prose. Parents and friends watch, getting an impromptu, unfiltered glimpse into what Madi and her two other peers have been learning for the past seven days.
“First of all, what do you want from him? This is the King of Nevar,” McCray Rincon says to Madi.
“I want him to prove to me that his love is real,” she says of her character.
“I want to make him choose me forever,” McCray Rincon corrects. “There’s a great inner strength and quiet, even though you’ve just found out these awful things. I want you to still down.”
Battle Mountain High School students Madi and Phoebe and Vail Mountain School student Simon spent the past seven days studying with McCray Rincon through the inaugural Visionbox Vail Young Conservatory. The three students spent a week and a half training with McCray Rincon and her crew through Visionbox Studio, which is preparing for a one-man-performance starring Bill Pullman, “Seeking Charlie Russell,” in Denver on Friday, Aug. 2. Together, they learned theater techniques that will help them become even better performers.
Visionbox Studio began in Denver in 2010 when McCray Rincon, the founding artistic director and head of acting and directing, noticed the city was devoid of programs for actors to receive professional training. She started the 501(c)3 to teach graduate-level technique to actors coming through her programs. While she’s brought her talents to Vail before through Visionbox Vail professional shows and acting seminars, she hopes this inaugural summer with Madi, Phoebe and Simon will spark a continuing schedule of collaborations between Visionbox Vail and local young actors and actresses.
Under direction from McCray and others including Visionbox Studio Associate Director Nicholas Riley, Battle Mountain High School Music Teacher Alexandra Trosper and Vail Mountain School Theatre Director Tony Bender, the three young players memorized Shakespeare soliloquies, sang songs and staged a one-act play from Tennessee Williams, “This Property is Condemned.” They performed their selections for parents and friends on Wednesday, July 17 to celebrate and show off their achievements.
The three students and instructors spent seven days learning material. As McCray Rincon explained at the culminating performance, she bases her curriculum off what she learned at Yale in graduate school. She said the M.F.A. program explores different topics in each of the three years required before earning the degree. The Young Conservatory covered material usually studied in that first year of graduate school.
“I teach Yale Drama School acting to anyone who wants to learn,” McCray Rincon said. “I believe that anyone that is interested in this art form can learn at the same level. There is no difference between what I was taught in graduate school and what I am teaching now.”
While she only spent seven days training her three young pupils, such a small cohort was able to gain plenty of one-on-one time with all the mentors. To the students’ teachers, Trosper and Bender, the improvements were already noticeable.
“I’m excited to see where you guys go. You’re gonna do well,” Bender said.
“We know that we want to push them to a higher level and training,” Trosper said to the audience. Then, to the students, she said, “everything that I’ve seen all of you do this week when I’ve watched … you’ve progressed. And you might not be able to tell right now, and that’s okay. But you’ll be able to feel it in about five-six weeks.
“As parents and people watching you on a regular basis, we can tell. Please continue on that path. Be brave, be vulnerable.”
Mountainfilm On Tour brings 10 documentary shorts, focusing on equity, to two local high schools and two local movie theaters. “Brotherhood Of Skiing,” for example, is about African Americans who love skiing and want to pass that love to the next generation.