To the students of the Integrated Arts Conservatory, the real question is less of “what do they do?” as opposed to “what don’t they do?” As part of the Integrated Arts Conservatory, students are exposed to a broad spectrum of arts, including visual arts, creative writing, musical theatre, pop vocal, acting, production and design, graphic arts, film and television, and drama therapy.
For the Integrated Arts Conservatory of California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley, the Integrated Arts Acting Showcase integrated the students’ skills in creative writing, acting and stage combat to create an engaging performance, reminding the audience of the harmony and support that exists between various fields of art.
Featuring an intimate black box theater layout, the showcase allowed audience members to be completely immersed in the story taking place in front of them and could fully appreciate the nuances of the acting. The night featured twenty short scenes, comprising of parodies of various shows and movies, such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Dance Moms.”
Three of the scenes were written by students who took the IA playwriting class. For both nights, tickets to the showcase were sold out, and a couple extra chairs were set up to accommodate everyone.
“I really liked the fact that this was only a small portion of what the students could do,” said an audience member. “They wrote the scripts, they performed it and it was not just teaching them a piece of the arts, but rather the whole picture and putting it together.”
No matter where a student’s strengths were, there was a place for every student to contribute. Some students acted the scripts that their peers had written, others engaged in stage combat within the short scenes, and backstage, students helped their peers with stage makeup with the skills they had learned from their Stage Makeup class.
“That’s really the spirit of Integrated Arts,” said Joey Ancona, director of the Integrated Arts Conservatory. “It’s the camaraderie, respect and support of one another to become better at all facets of the arts. I think what’s unique about this conservatory is that not all the students are always doing what they are the strongest at. Tonight, there were writers who were acting, and throughout the whole process, the actors were helping the writers get better, and the writers were supporting the actors, and others were helping with stage makeup.”
“This was my first time acting, and I’m usually pretty shy, but the class really helped me get out of my comfort zone,” sophomore Diane Lee said.
Being able to watch such a talented group of students collaborate, try new things and show off all they’ve learned throughout the year was truly impressive.
“It was my first time using acting blocks, and the whole experience was really fun because all my friends and I really love working together and being together,” eighth grade student Keona Huang said.
Even though many of them had little to no experience with acting before, they gave engaging performances that reflected the communal spirit of their conservatory. It was also inspiring to see so many students putting themselves out there as they explored all of the arts and used their strengths to support each other.
“I’d say Integrated Arts has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the all the different arts,” said Jai Mandujano. “Mr. [Ancona] always made us all feel like our classes were all a safe space and reassured us that it is definitely okay to mess up because artistry is all about progressing and improving.”
Art is so much more than just making things look nice. Art is resilience, learning to embrace new experiences, and using each others’ strengths to build each other up. Although Integrated Arts did not represent a single art form, it represented the spirit present in all the arts.