Every spring, a group of UW–Eau Claire students goes to New York City for spring break. Contrary to the title, this trip is anything but a break. The students are learning, working, and congregating as a class over the seven-day trip. The students, who are from the Music and Theatre Arts Department, are accompanied by two professors, Ken Pereira (Voice/Opera) and Arthur Grothe (Theatre). On this trip, in addition to attending plays, musicals, and other artistic events, they attend master classes, shadow working professionals, and set up appointments with actors and musicians to learn more about their specific trade.
In preparation of this trip, a course is part of the experience. In class, students learn about networking skills, logistics of working in a city, and other issues surrounding the performing arts as a profession. All of this leads up to the trip where they get to see it all in action. This program is designed to help music and theatre students prepare for a future career in performing.
While in New York City, the students and faculty keep an updated blog. Each student is required to share their experiences leading up to, during, and after returning home from the trip. Below are a few short excerpts from students on the trip in Spring of 2019.
I went into the trip kind of confused about where I wanted to go in the realm of theatre, but this trip helped solidify my plan of becoming a performer.
The performers that I’ve been seeing these past few shows—people I am so inspired by and in awe of—started working just as I’m doing. They’ve had good days and bad ones, but they’ve failed harder, bigger, and kept going.
It [the opportunity to talk to professionals in the business] has informed me beyond the career preparation that I have done in school and has given me a true window into the life I could be living in a few years… This trip has truly confirmed my passion for what I do and has made me exponentially more excited to be doing what I’m doing as an actor.
Arthur Grothe has accompanied the students on the trip during the past three years, and he has seen a noticeable difference in professionalism in the students that have gone. These students spread that professionalism to others in the department and around campus. When asked what the main idea for the immersion was, Grothe responded, “The overriding idea is to help students prepare for a career in the arts.” He goes on to expand this idea and the idea of professionalism by saying, “After all, it is called ‘showbusiness’ and there are those that would argue it should be called ‘business show’ because of the rigors involved in developing a career. This experience provides a framework for students to take those next steps and also helps to build the professionalism of the entire department.”