This is my third summer with City Spotlights, and it has been a curveball in both the expected and unexpected ways. There were little things, like not quite remembering which light switches were which. Bigger things, like having a tap card to get into the building. Then much bigger things like being an advisor, and transitioning from Workshop Development Teaching Artist Assistant to Teens Programs Coordinator. Part way through the program, I took on Acting Teaching Artist responsibilities as well. 


Thanks to the community building and expectations Brenden set down, the acting specialty was adaptable to change and challenges. In about a week we devised three narrative scenes and three commercials/PSAs about our theme of intersectionality and systemic oppression. The main focus was how systemic oppression affects our mental health. Our narrative scenes were realistic, which helps highlight the satirical commercials, and explores multiple facets of their theme. Teen Leaders wrote their own scripts for the commercials. As a group, we devised the narrative scenes through improv exercises and editing/revising tablework. Two commercials were filmed over Zoom. Due to our schedule, the Teens directed one themselves with great success. I’ve been impressed by their thoughtfulness and big acting choices throughout the summer. I love to see the growth in leadership skills of the returning Teens, and for the new Teens to explore new challenges. 


As I write this going into week 5, Specialty is effectively finished. We filmed our scenes and commercials throughout week 4. Our main recording day felt enjoyably reminiscent of our previous Workshop Tours, as we filmed in various locations in and around the Shubert Theatre. 

It was hard to let go of the typical order of creating, rehearsing, staging, and performing a play. Fortunately, the process of creating short films has a lot of room for creativity. I am looking forward to seeing the edited versions during the Final Showcase. Reflecting on this week, and this summer overall, I am grateful to get to be a part of The City Spotlights community again. I owe a lot of my own personal and professional growth and aspirations to this program.

Jenny Herzog (Music Teaching Artist)