Daryl W. Phillipy is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and was the recipient of the CHFA Teaching Award in Spring 2017. Alongside his excellent teaching and research Professor Phillipy stays extremely busy over the summers at the Stage Door Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York. Stage Door Manor is a total theater immersion summer camp and the only performing arts program of its type in the world. Students age 10-18 attend from all 50 states and six continents! Below Professor Phillipy describes this impressive camp he has been a part of for the past six years!
From Professor Phillipy:
Student Life at Stage Door is centered on the one thing that all campers have in common, and that is they all LOVE theatre. They proudly wear the banner THEATRE GEEK on their chests and spend 14 hours a day immersed in rehearsals, classes, workshops, talent shows, and special performances. Many of these camper/student/artists have had previous professional experience on Broadway or in films and television. The list of the alumni from Stage Door is quite staggering: Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman, Zach Braff, Josh Charles, Lea Michele, Jon Cryer, Mandy Moore, Dallas Bryce Howard, and Tony award winning composer, Fun Home!, Jeanine Tesori are just a few. However, this camp is not elitist in their approach to teaching theatre, Stage Door requires no audition to attend, so there is a wide range experience with the campers, most have had no professional experience at all.
The Importance of Being Earnest
I have had the honor and privilege of working at Stage Door four out of the last six years. While there, not only do I serve as a role model and mentor for all of the campers, but I have a great opportunity to work with the kids in production. Over the course of the four years that I have been there I have directed five shows, The Heiress, Daisy Pulls it Off, As It Is In Heaven, Conference of the Birds, and last summer The Importance of Being Earnest. The quality of these shows in every aspect is humbling. The talent that the kids bring to the table is extraordinary and I have the pleasure of working with some of the finest scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers; stage managers; choreographers; and music directors.
The production values are top notch and we have to keep in mind that they produce 14 shows in 9 different venues over a three-week period, so that is a total of 42 shows in nine weeks!
In addition to being involved in musicals, dramas, and comedies, the campers are also immersed into at least six different classes that they take for two weeks. My focus is strictly acting and not musical theatre or dance, so I typically teach classes such as Master Acting, Acting for the Camera, Commedia dell Arte, Shakespeare, Viewpoints, and an Introduction to Meisner class. The schedule is fast-paced and rather grueling. We often say that one day at Stage Door is like three weeks, and three weeks is like one day. The time flies.
The other aspect that I love about working there is the fact that I make so many good friends with people whose talent and skill I admire. Wonderful directors, musical directors, and choreographers are my colleagues. They come from all over the United States, and indeed from around the world. These are great professional connections for me, which often translate back to connections that I can use to help my students here at Murray State University, get work. In fact, I have helped a couple of our students in the department of theatre get jobs at Stage Door.
One of the things that the owner/producers of Stage Door state is that when the campers come is that we say to them, “Welcome Home”. The place really does serve as a second home for most of the kids who attend. For those three weeks that they are there, the focus is on them, their dreams, their development as artists, and their well-being. These kids develop life-long friends and have experiences that they will never forget. It truly is a magical place, and I am proud to be a part of it.