Standing in the midst of giggling children who fill one of Orlando REP’s classrooms, is teaching artist Jarrett Poore. As the children bounce excitedly in a circle, filling the room with laughter and the faint tunes of some of their favorite Disney songs, Jarrett works to gain their attention and continue to the next step in their summer class agenda.
Working with children at Orlando Family Stage camps and classes is a daily adventure for the many teaching artists who help cultivate the creativity and confidence in these young performers. For over a year now, Jarrett has taken part in Orlando REP’s Youth Academy camps and classes as a teaching artist, inspiring and encouraging these young performers through various games and exercises that not only help expand their “actor’s toolbox”, but also helps develop a passion for the arts.
“Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) is so important because when you have that inspiration from a young age, the love can only grow,” Jarrett says. “I found a love of theatre from a very young age myself, and it has only grown exponentially since then.”
The “actor’s toolbox” is an important aspect throughout Orlando REP’s camps and classes that the teaching artists center many of their activities around, consisting of four foundational elements known as the “core four”. These four elements include the voice, the body, the mind, and the imagination of the actor. But with every student having their own unique way of learning, it comes down to the quick-wit of their teacher to determine how to best implement the “core four” into their daily fun. Fortunately with Jarrett’s own diverse “actor’s toolbox”, he’s quick to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances that coincide with young performers.
“Every day is different, every class is different, even the kids from day-to-day are sometimes different based on how they’re feeling,” Jarrett says. “It’s a lot about being flexible and keeping an open mind and an open heart, and really just seeing what the students want to learn more about.”
As he channels his love of theatre and performing arts into every element of the camps that he participates in, Jarrett continues to push himself to improve his own teaching methods and expand his knowledge in musical theatre education. It was this drive which led him to pursue Theatre UCF’s MFA in Musical Theatre.
“When I heard about this program, it just sounded like something that was up my alley and would help enhance my skills for future classes, camps, and workshops,” Jarrett says of the graduate program, which he’s currently enrolled in. “I already have my own little toolbox of skills, but I’m always looking to better understand how to relate that information to students of all ages.”
His passion for working with the children shines through clearly as he works closely with them at Orlando REP. The energy and enthusiasm that bursts from his classes has even inspired some of the students to explore new opportunities within theatre – including the possibility of perhaps becoming a teaching artist themselves in the future.
“I’ve had a couple of kids that have asked me over the years, ‘How do I do what you do?’ and I tell them, you just have to work hard, you have to really want to do it, and you have to have a love for theatre,” Jarrett explains. “If you have that passion for it, then you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Initially drawn to Orlando Family Stage after learning about teaching artist opportunities last year, Jarrett knew that he could continue to combine his love of theatre with his desire to help pass this love onto the next generation. While Jarrett spends a fair amount of his time in classes creating choreography that challenges students to expand their “actor’s toolbox”, or simply finding new ways to bring out the performer in some of the more shy participants, he says that its the connection with the students that means the most to him.
“I love the atmosphere that Orlando Family Stage gives off and I feel very strongly about working here because I’ve always been passionate about working with children and TYA theatre,” Jarrett says. “I love working with the kids, I love all of the staff, and honestly, it’s one of the best experiences of my life thus far.”