By Ian James
Theatre Arts Student at Long Beach State
Students, faculty coordinators and guest artists share how
CSU Summer Arts has impacted their lives.
I came to Summer Arts expecting to learn the basics about musical theatre and stage combat, but I have taken away more than I could have ever imagined. As a transfer student to Long Beach State, I wasn’t able to develop the typical connections of students who dorm together or who met freshman year. Summer Arts allowed me to share that traditional college experience.
We all come here with one goal in mind: to become a better artist. We are immersed in art 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are constantly collaborating, sharing and pushing each other. During class, we encourage each other and brainstorm ideas about how to make each project better. In our down time, we show each other what we’ve learned and get feedback on how to improve our art form. The students here are so talented and I feel really blessed to work with them all. They have become not only my friends, but my inspiration.
As a theatre major, networking is a crucial part of moving your career forward. Not only have I made friends that will stay with me forever, I met amazing composers and artists that worked with me one-on-one and stuck by me throughout the entire process. For example, Susan Egan—the first person to ever play Belle in Broadway’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast—helped me hone in on my musical theatre skills during the Broadway Boot Camp course. Where else are you going to get hands-on coaching from the original Belle on Broadway?!
All the connections that I have made so far are invaluable. Summer Arts is an intense experience, full of bumps and bruises. We push ourselves to the limit. In the end, this experience makes me better—a better person and a better artist.