Rob Scharlow remembers being on the Raue Center for the Arts stage in Crystal Lake as a performer and director. About 10 years later, he stands on the stage again, but this time as the center’s new director of education.
Scharlow’s new direction also comes with a revamped educational program for the arts center. He hopes to create a “tiered system” of classes inspired by college curriculum that will increase in experience as students grow older.
“The structure that I’m going for is to allow kids to grow through the process,” he said.
This fall, the Raue Center’s education program will offer a new program that will be followed by a production. Students in the classes usually range from ages 7 to high schoolers, Raue Center for the Arts marketing director Meredith Schaefer-Flowers said.
You are essentially starting with a piece of clay and you are going to create a show from nothing.”— Rob Scharlow, Raue Center for the Arts director of education
Scharlow is taking inspiration from his experience working at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York by adding a devised theater class for the first time at Raue. Scharlow describes devised theater classes as a new form of theater teaching that allows students to completely create their own original show.
“You are essentially starting with a piece of clay and you are going to create a show from nothing,” he said. “You literally have your cast develop it from the ground up.”
Nick Hrutkay from the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York will be teaching and directing the devised theater class. They are looking for students with not just a passion for acting, but for anything from acrobatics, writing and music.
“That’s why we’re looking for all talent because every person gets the same amount of attention,” Scharlow said.
Students in the class will create a holiday show that they will perform in early December. The theme will be “letters to Santa,” but the rest is up to them, he said.
Students and parents will be able to meet Scharlow and learn more about the program at an open house at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.
Scharlow urges anyone who is interested in participating in the class to sign up quickly since there are only 25 slots. The center will bring in students on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For the future, Scharlow hopes to make devised theater a permanent program at the Raue Center. Six-week classes in the educational program will start in the spring, Schaefer-Flowers said.
“You don’t have to have any experience in devised,” he said. “That’s the great part about it because you’re going to create it, we’re going to help you do it.”
This story has been updated to correct the name of Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center and to clarify that six-week classes begin in the spring at the Raue Center for the Arts.