The Penfold Theater Company, a young and ambitious theater serving North Austin and Round Rock, has been making waves in the Austin community since its formation in 2008. They recently partnered with Breaking String Theater for the acclaimed production of Ghosts and have garnered multiple honors and awards, including several Austin Critics Table Awards. Now the theater is launching a new education program, Penfold Players, and it is already going global.
Penfold Players has been selected by the American High School Theater Festival (AHSTF) to present a student production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in August 2013. The invitation is an exciting kick-off to Penfold's “Carpe Aestatem” (Seize the Summer) program, which aims to give high school students a theater travel experience every other summer.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest performing arts festival in the world and traces its heritage to 1947 when a handful of adventurous theaters performed on the fringes of the official Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe Festival became an official phenomenon in its own right in the fifties and has been going strong ever since.
Every summer, thousands of performers head to Scotland’s capital city to perform in various venues from playgrounds to opera houses. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an exciting stew of theater, comedy, dance, music and more. Performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an experience of a lifetime.
That is just what Patty McMullen, the new education chair on Penfold’s Board of Directors, has in mind. McMullen is the vision behind the study and travel program, which she has coined "Carpe Aestatem," and she hopes her students will do just that. McMullen, a retired school teacher and an appointed member of the Texas Theater Hall of Fame, is excited about this opportunity to put young Austin talent on a global stage.
“I felt like the North Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto area teens needed summer theatre opportunities. High school and middle school theatre in our area is so outstanding, and when school is out, young artists need a place to demonstrate their tremendous talent. A summer theater camp which culminates in a production seemed like a great solution, but extending the offer of theatre travel was an exciting addition.” says McMullen.
Students who join the Carpe Aestatem program will work together to mount a production next summer, and then take it overseas to perform on the AHSTF Stage in Edinburgh. McMullen hops that the experience will teach the students that “We live in a wonderful, beautiful world!” She hopes that the experience of traveling to the festival will encourage these young people to explore new places. It will also offer them a chance to collaborate with others and to create something meaningful which they can share with the world.
This is a great opportunity not only for the students who will enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but also for The Penfold Theater Company and its Austin community. Austin has long been known as the live music capital, but there is a rich and thriving life throughout the creative community in Austin. Exciting things are happening as this dynamic movement comes into its own.