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Theater performers who practice together, succeed together

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Category: academics Video duration: Theater performers who practice together, succeed together
Sarah Elizabeth Yorke '12, directs Virginia Tech students in the play Concord Floral by Jordan Tannahill. The production includes students from a variety of majors and theater experience who tackle difficult subjects such as loss and grief in scenes throughout the play.
It is a Herculean effort. All right, let's go again. Same spot. I'm Sarah Elizabeth Yorke and I am an instructor of applied theater and performance in the School of Performing Arts, and I'm the director of Concord Floral. It is about a group of young teenagers, adolescents, essentially like a coming of age story based in an abandoned greenhouse. That they go to party, live their lives, experience things. And it's a really interesting comment on how we grow up and essentially how we treat one another. The cast is all students. There are ten actors and three understudies, so there are thirteen actors total. And even my entire team, production team is all students as well. I'm the only faculty who is an artistic like creative, leading. And there is some performance majors, there are some minors, and there are some non majors. So there's a really nice blend of folks and experience in the room. So I play number nine, also known as the Greenhouse, who serves as a narrator in this role. And greenhouse is where the event takes place. So it's kind of like the all-knowing figure in the show. In my high school theater, we had very large casts. So getting to work with a very intimate group and getting to know everyone and their acting styles, and working very closely with the like, set design and costume has been really, really awesome. I play John Cabot, also known as Three. In a world of high school and stuff where there's a lot of peer pressure, there's John who struggles between trying to conform and trying to stay true to himself and his conscience. I've never done something like this before. So having those shifts in identity, between being yourself, being the person telling the story, and then also just having that awareness of the other actors and characters around you. It's a very interesting balance to try and make. It's been really incredible to see folks who, you know, maybe have been in ten plus shows still learning. And as an educator and as a director, it has challenged me to really make sure I'm looking at the individual and their needs. The way they learn, the way they grow. And I think it's really important that we know it's an individual experience. And I think art isn't a blanket of education. It's not just this one thing. And working with people from different levels and different backgrounds has really challenged me as an educator, to pay attention to the individual. And my own philosophy is the human before the artist and the artist before the art. And that rings true with the human before the student and the student before the work. And I find that that is like the foundation of the work I'm doing in this room.