The Trust’s flagship educational initiative works with high schools across the state as a central part of Minnesota arts curriculum
MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 9, 2024) — On Feb. 6, Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program organizers traveled to Sartell to hold a comedy improv workshop at Sartell High School in partnership with Brave New Workshop. The event brought together Sartell high school students for a day filled with laughter, creativity and skill-building. Photos from the event can be found here.
The workshop was led by Doug Neithercott, an experienced improv comedian and regular performer with Brave New Workshop, a resident company of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Dudley Riggs Theatre and the longest-running comedy theater troupe in the nation. Through a series of exercises, students explored the fundamentals of improv comedy, including listening, reacting honestly and working together to create something unexpected.
“We are honored to bring our Spotlight Education program—which works with 100 high schools across the Minnesota—to Sartell this week,” said Todd Duesing, Hennepin Theatre Trust president and CEO. “Learning improv comedy isn’t just about making people laugh; it’s about cultivating invaluable life skills. Improv teaches students to embrace uncertainty with creativity and confidence, empowering them to navigate any challenge both onstage and off. And who better to teach those skills than the talented performers from Brave New Workshop, the nation’s longest-running sketch comedy group?”
Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education provides high-quality arts education opportunities to students across Minnesota, empowering them to discover their passions, develop their talents and build lifelong skills. Through Spotlight Education, students receive professional training and guidance to enhance their artistic, technical and performing skills. The program has five key components:
Spotlight facilitates in-person and virtual workshops for students to learn new skills, build community and connect with leading industry professionals. Spotlight opportunities supplement and enhance theater curriculum and introduce students to the world of professional theater from both a local and national perspective. Students who attend a Spotlight high school can attend any session for free.
Spotlight sends trained theater professionals and educators to watch and assess participating schools’ theater productions. The Production Assessment process is an educational tool intended to encourage, inspire and enhance Spotlight schools’ theater programs and strengthen the skills of student artists—onstage and offstage.
Unpacking the Show
Unpacking The Show is a Spotlight Education resource program that equips educators with tools to critically and responsibly approach the canon of musical theater. The program’s objective is to dig deeper into the dramaturgical content of the musicals produced at the high school level and to develop a set of best practices on discussing and staging these stories so that everyone in the room feels safe and heard. Spotlight Education hopes this programming will help directors and educators to navigate complicated but necessary conversations with students, parents, administration and audiences.
Critical Review is a rigorous writing program that aims to develop critical thinking skills through arts journalism. Students attend and review productions through Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Bank of America Broadway on Hennepin Season and participate in workshops led by experts in the fields of musical theater, writing and journalism. Student reviews are edited for content and style, discussed with program leaders and posted through an online portal. Internet access is a requirement to participate.
Spotlight Showcase Event
Spotlight Showcase is Minnesota high school theater’s biggest celebration. Over 1,600 students participate in the awards and recognition event, presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program. After a year of participating in the Spotlight-evaluated shows or applying for the select Triple Threat, Technical Theater, Publicist and Orchestra tracks, students from across Minnesota will take the stage at the historic State Theatre. Appearances are also made by educators, community members and alumni. This year, Spotlight Showcase 2024 presented by PNC will be held on June 10-11.
For more information about Spotlight Education, please visit HennepinTheatreTrust.org.
Spotlight Education is made possible with support from PNC Bank and Sun Country Airlines.
Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and event center at 900 Hennepin Avenue light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.
PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com.
Brave New Workshop (BNW) is the longest-running improvisational theatre company in the United States. Since its founding in 1958 by Dudley Riggs, BNW has been dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation and laughter through its unique blend of comedy, satire and improvisation. With a rich history of pushing boundaries and challenging conventions, BNW has become a beloved institution in the Twin Cities arts scene and beyond. For more information about Brave New Workshop and its programs, visit www.bravenewworkshop.com.
Sun Country Airlines is a new breed of hybrid low-cost air carrier, whose mission is to connect guests to their favorite people and places, to create lifelong memories and transformative experiences. Sun Country dynamically deploys shared resources across our synergistic scheduled service, charter, and cargo businesses. Based in Minnesota, we focus on serving leisure and visiting friends and relatives (“VFR”) passengers and charter customers and providing cargo service to Amazon, with flights throughout the United States and to destinations in Mexico, Central America, Canada, and the Caribbean.
This activity is made possible by voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.