The Cumberland County Playhouse proudly salutes the talented valedictorians and salutatorian of CCHS and Stone Memorial High School this year: Grace Harrison (SMHS-Valedictorian) and Coco Bennett (CCHS-Valedictorian), and Wren Tackett (SMHS-Salutatorian), who all happen to be long time students of the CCP Performance Education Center. They have participated in many shows and all three are performing in the current CCP hit production of Footloose.
The talented trio gave the following insights when discussing their recent academic successes:
CCP: How has studying theatre at the Playhouse enhanced your performance as a student in general?
Coco: Studying theatre has enhanced my performance as a student because I am no longer shy like I was as a young kid. Grace: Studying theatre has helped me break through my social shell, making it easier for me to present in class, to work with fellow class mates, and most importantly, ask questions in class discussions.
Wren: Being at the Playhouse has helped because no matter how stressful things got at school I could always go there to just get away from it all. Without that stress relief I don't think I would have made it!
CCP: What is your secret to balancing such a busy schedule and keeping up exemplary grades?
Coco: Get things done, right when you know about the assignment. Right after school, I'd do my homework; go to the playhouse, then have the rest of the night to relax. Doing it like that made balancing my schedule easier, though it is still draining at times.
Grace: I balance theatre and grades because, in my mind, there is no other option. Education has always been a priority for me, but theatre is something I truly love being a part of. I basically told myself I couldn't do theatre unless I did well at school. Fortunately, I also love learning, so keeping up my grades wasn't an extremely difficult task. Wren: Time management is the biggest part of getting everything done. It's important to take advantage of every spare moment I have, otherwise I would drown in homework.
CCP: What is a favorite memory of yours from your years at CCP, whether as a student or in a show?
Coco: My favorite memory would probably be singing along in the Joseph cast because the music is beautiful and being a plate in Beauty and the Beast because it was kind of a bigger role than the ensemble. Grace: I have so many memories at CCP it's hard to choose just one, so I'm going to categorize and say that the teen cabarets were my favorite memories. There is nothing like the pride felt when you hear applause with the rise of the curtain for something you have worked so hard to achieve. To me, these shows represent what the playhouse is all about.
Wren: I don't think I could pick one moment that is my favorite. Every moment I spent at the Playhouse is so special, even when things got hard. I would not trade these memories for anything in the world!
CCP: What are your plans after high school?
Coco: I am going to TTU in the fall to get a bachelor in Computer Science or Computer Engineering and eventually live in NYC with an apartment overlooking the city.
Grace: I plan to attend Auburn University in Alabama majoring in interior design. War eagle!
Wren: After graduation I plan on attending ETSU and going into Pre-Pharmacy.
The successes of these young women, balancing educational demands while enjoying heavy extracurricular schedules, points to positive effects of performing arts training on personal growth and general education. Performance studies can add self-confidence, presence, and self-esteem, nurture creative problem-solving and strengthen public speaking ability. Adults with prior theater experience often find themselves able to be active in business meetings, present ideas, make decisions requiring aesthetic and character judgment, and solve problems in the workplace, at home and in other spheres of life. Performance and theater training develops time management skills, personal expressiveness, multitasking, collaboration and teamwork with others, and the ability to develop creative solutions in many arenas.
The Playhouse has a fantastic program of music/dance/acting that is appropriate for beginners to advanced students and provides opportunities for live performances, often alongside our professional resident company. Call 931-484-500, ext. 260 for details.