My name is Spencer and I am the Arts Management Intern at Eagle Hill School in rural Hardwick, Massachusetts. My hobbies are being a Disc Jockey and musical theater. I was recently Nathan Detroit in Eagle Hills’ production of Guys and Dolls.
I am here to talk to you all about the incredible and eye-opening experience called APAP. APAP stands for Association of Performing Arts Presenters. We went to look for new performances for next years schedule at The Cultural Center. APAP is a huge event in New York where a bunch of performers and their agents get together to showcase their acts to venues. Venues can get information on the acts and who to contact to reserve them for their programming. My teacher Ms. Donovan and I drove up there on a Friday afternoon with minimal traffic and a nice view to accompany us. The drive took us 5 hours approximately and as soon as we entered New York, my jaw dropped. I had not been there since I was little, and that was with my father for the opening day of the Lion King, which he marketed, on Broadway. It is a beautiful city with shimmering lights and buildings as far as the eye stretches. I wanted to wake up from my lucid dream but I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was not dreaming. As our car pulled up to the hotel, it was as if I was entering the home of the Wizard of Oz. The lobby was futuristic, with interactive touch panels on the walls and a Starbucks, in the hotel! Ms. Donovan and I were quite tired and hungry, so we quickly went to our “room palace” and then had an exquisite and sophisticated meal at McDonalds. I then headed off to bed and could not wait for what would happen the next day, and the action did not even start yet!
The next day I woke up at 7 and was told to meet Ms. Donovan, the technical director of the Cultural Center and Mr. Hunley, the director of the Cultural Center, at the main lobby. We had a beautiful breakfast buffet at the Hilton and then we were off to our workshops. The workshop Ms. Donovan and I attended was about leadership and how to be a leader in your community. They discussed aspects such as getting the community involved in your shows and also unique ways to generate income. One of the most interesting aspects covered was the use of technology and social media to promote your theater. The idea that really stood out was, before a show, when the director is making his welcoming speech, he would tell everyone to take a picture of the person sitting next to them, and tweet that picture. This would help advertise the theater and get all the friends of the audience on twitter to see the social and joyous aspects of going to the venue. That was an interesting idea that I would love to take place at our performances. I added some input in this workshop as well. I talked about how having free performances and free workshops are important because it lets people know about the other performances and shows, that the venue is upbeat and caters to the public. Ms. Donovan talked about The Cultural Center Facebook page and how it helps people keep in touch with the venue. Overall, it was a great workshop where I, personally, learned a lot.
Ms. Donovan and I met with Mr. Hunley shortly to talk about the workshops we went to and then Mr. Hunley parted from us once again. Ms. Donovan and I were off to Leo, a show that requires a long explanation. On the stage, there is a large projector on the left. On the right of the stage there is a box with three walls, like a room. A guy comes out and he lies on the ground with his feet touching one of the walls. On the projector, though, we see him standing up straight. The whole show is based on this gravity idea. I thought the idea was very interesting, but the show got boring very quickly. There just was not enough going on with the idea to be interesting.
After the show, we walked back to the hotel to rest and get some lunch before our next show, Snow White. No, not the, “happy dwarves”, Snow White, the Grimm, “I poisoned her 50 times”, Snow White. However, we did not see the whole show. You see, what happened is that Ms. Donovan and I realized that we have absolutely no idea how to read the Subway system in New York. So, I downloaded a Subway system application for my Iphone. This was hard to read and the map on it was so confusing I thought it was some sort of Egyptian. So, we got to the Subway station, and ended up taking the train the wrong way for about 15 miles. We then got on the right train to the right direction, and we were already 30 minutes late. When we got off, we had to walk about two miles, so by the time we FINALLY got there, the intermission already was about to happen. But let me tell you, this show was absolutely positively fantastic! The show was a mixture of everything from opera, dance, story telling, and acrobatics. It is my top pick for the show I would say would be a must-be for the Cultural Center. It would be so beautiful in our theater, with the amazing lighting design, the elaborate costumes, and the intricate set pieces. I actually told Mr. Hunley that I would help pay for it to be here! I was serious!
After we hiked, took the right train, and hiked some more back to the oasis which some call The Hilton, we rested for about a half an hour. After we rested, we got a quick dinner at a café across the street, and were off to our next show. It was beautiful that the next show was a short walk from the hotel. Saying I was excited for this next show would be the understatement of the year. The next show was Rockapella, an outstanding, world renowned, acapella music group that does every kind of genre of music you can imagine. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the great songs they did were, “you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” with their low bass singer doing an exact replica of the song. They were brutally honest, telling the audience how they sold out and were doing jingles for products such as Almond Joy and Pepsi. They also had an audience participation aspect, where they wooed a young woman and fought for her attention. In the end, it was unbelievably entertaining and I would love to see it at our theater.
After this, we walked down to another theater about 3-4 miles away to see some cirque shows. What was unfortunate, though, is that when we arrived, there were no more performances until an hour, and we were beyond exhausted. So we walked into one of the rooms, and a cirque troupe said that they’d put on a two-act show just for us to see. The show, I had to admit, was very mediocre, but I may be prejudice because I have seen full-scale Cirque shows, like Love in Las Vegas. I was not very impressed; it was like the same thing I have seen over and over again. We went to another one that was not very entertaining at all, and I was very bored and felt awkward for the performers. This was not the highlight of the day at all. We decided to walk back after these and get some shut-eye.
The next morning, I woke up, had the breakfast buffet, and then headed to my meeting with the Front of Office Manager of The Hilton. That is my dream job, and it was such an honor to talk to him. He told me about how his average day is, how he got this position, and what he did for college. The part that interested me is that he mentioned bartending through college to gain more income, and this I would be interested in because I have an outgoing personality and that is needed in that profession. He told me how he used to be the food manager and he was promoted to this position. He has been with Hilton his whole life and enjoys it. Then, he took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of The Hilton. We saw where the maid’s headquarters were, he told me how they do their laundry discreetly, and we even went underground at one point. It was a lot more humongous than I thought! It was a great tour and it was informative for me.
After my meeting, we went down to the performance center where the Cirque’s were, and saw some dancers. All the dances were mediocre, but the one that stood out was Riedel. If you remember, in the middle of this year, we had a huge blackout for several days. Riedel was supposed to perform, but due to the power, we had to cancel this. It was unfortunate because they are extremely talented dancers and the public would have enjoyed it. Riedel’s performance at this center was unique, sophisticated, and yet simple and left you with a feeling of euphoria. I hope we can fit them in our schedule sometime next year.
That was the end of APAP. It was a remarkable experience that I will never forget. I saw many performances that will make next years program outstanding and one of the best ones I’ve seen. Everyone was amiable and looked like they were having a great time. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had school to attend! I thank you all for reading my first blog. I hope you enjoyed my in-depth experience of APAP.