Nautilus Music-Theater trains a new generation of artists

Categories: Theater
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Nautilus Music-Theater has been nurturing and developing artists for the past 25 years. Now it's continuing that mission by starting initiatives aimed at training a new generation of artists.

The organization recently launched a mentorship program for performers and a fellowship for people interested in theater management -- be that in production, development, or administration. According to artistic director Ben Krywosz, the initiatives are meant as a way of giving back to the community, as well as strengthening and expanding the organization.

Krywosz says the performer mentorship program has been something that Nautilus has been wanting to do for some time. The program is undergoing a pilot run right now, and participants were recently showcased in the latest Rough Cuts performance series. Each of the mentees -- Laurie Flanigan-Hegge, Lauren Drasler, Julie Kurtz, and Maggie Lofboom -- had a chance to showcase their stuff under the musical direction of Jerry Rubino. Now, the mentors, mentees, and staff at Nautilus are in the process of evaluating the program, which Krywosz says Nautilus plans to continue. 

"Basically, we've created a buddy system," Krywosz says, "where the performers are feeling nurtured, and their mentors can give larger insight into how the performer life works, 'How does one maneuver through the world as an artist? How does one have an artistic career?'" Conversations between mentors and mentees could vary depending on the relationship and the needs of the mentee, from career counseling to technical coaching, to philosophical discussions. 
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Laurie Flanagan Heggie
Laurie Flanigan Hegge, who is one of the mentees, says she's using the mentorship as a way to "reboot" her acting career. She had been a performer in Chicago where she is from, but since moving here in 2003 to be with her husband, John Andrew Hegge, who is an actor around town, she's been known more as a writer than a performer. 

Hegge first started working with Nautilus with the Composer-Librettist Forum as a writer, and indeed has always felt that Krywosz was a mentor to her as an artist. She's doing the performance mentorship as a way to re-assess what her goals are in terms of her performing self. "It feels great to focus on singing as a performer and as a singer-actor," she says. 

Her mentor is Christina Baldwin, whom Hegge met years ago at the Composer-Librettist forum. The two have a "common vocabulary," Hegge says, "but it's been exciting to redefine that relationship in a more formal way."

In the couple of times they've met so far, they've talked about projects they might do together, as wells as talking about reassessments, especially as a mother and how to balance that into the picture of being a performer as well. "On some level it's very personal," Hegge says. "It's kind of like having a workout buddy. And in a bigger way, I feel empowered to take risks that I might not have taken otherwise." 

The program fits nicely into Nautilus's mission, Krywosz says. "We are an artist development organization." Also, the program has a benefit of making the young performers better.
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In addition, Nautilus has also started a new fellowship program in theater management, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts. Each of the three mentees work 20 hours a week, receiving a monthly stipend of $800, and will be able to access all of Springboard's workshops for free. The program is meant for people who might be interested in running their own theater companies. Blake Bolan, who is one of the fellows, is one of the founding members of Savage Umbrella Theater. The fellowships will go until the end of the fiscal year this summer, with a plan to renew the program afterwards. 

Meanwhile, Nautilus's production of Joan of Arc, which opened this fall, continues this January for a short run (January 5-8). You can purchase tickets online


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