Press Release

PlayMakers’ award-winning Summer Youth Conservatory returns for 2014

PlayMakers Repertory Company announces the Summer Youth Conservatory for 2014. The Conservatory features Theatre Intensive, Theatre Quest and Theatre Tech programs for high school and middle school students, and culminates in a production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hairspray.”

Beginning June 16, a cast of high school-age actors will have the opportunity to train, rehearse and perform in a professional theater space — PlayMakers’ Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art – as part of this award-winning program.

The Summer Youth Conservatory has been honored by the North Carolina Theatre Conference (NCTC) with the Constance Welsh Youth Theatre Award for excellence in performance, service of mission and community outreach.  NCTC recognized the Conservatory as having “become a model program for youth theater in North Carolina,” saying that the Conservatory has made professional theater training more accessible to the youth of the Triangle.

The Conservatory is a unique theater experience for young people: an educational and performance opportunity that includes working with professional directors, choreographers and musical directors at PlayMakers Repertory Company, the premiere resident professional theater of the Carolinas.

In addition to training young actors, the Conservatory offers TheatreTech – an in-depth program in Scenic, Costume, and Lighting production. This program includes technical classes followed by a month-long apprenticeship with PlayMakers’ professional staff.

PlayMakers will also offer a series of week-long classes for middle school students called Theatre Quest. This program will give students the opportunity to train with professional artists in a variety of subjects: Principles of Acting, Shakespeare and Stage Combat, Musical Theatre I: Solo Showcase, Musical Theatre II: ShowStoppers and Acting for the Camera. Students can participate in one week of training or all five. Teachers for Theatre Quest are John Dreher, Julie Fishell, David McClutchey, Caroline Strange and Estes Tarver.

Desdemona Chaing will direct the production of “Hairspray.” Chiang is based in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. She has directed for Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Azeotrope, Impact Theatre, FringeNYC, Playwrights Foundation, Golden Thread Productions, Washington Ensemble Theatre, SF One Minute Play Festival, Unicycle Collective, among others. She is an SDC Sir John Gilgeud Directing Fellow, Drama League Directing Fellow and alumna of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. She received her BA in Integrative Biology and Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and her MFA in Directing from the University of Washington.

New York City-based performer/choreographer Matthew Steffens will choreograph. He appeared on Broadway in “Ladies on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown” and “Promises, Promises.” Most recently he served as associate choreographer for immersive theater hit “Queen of the Night.” Television and film credits include “Across the Universe,” “Clear Blue Tuesday,” “The Black Box,” “Smash,” and the upcoming film “The Last Five Years,” for which he was also assistant choreographer. 

Theatre Intensive and “Hairspray” will be cast by audition only.

TheatreTech enrollment is based on application and subsequent interview and is open to high school students.

For the young actors cast, five weeks of intensive training and rehearsal begin on June 16, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Five public performances of “Hairspray” will take place July 16-20. Cast members will be expected to attend all rehearsals. Tuition is $1,500/actor, with scholarships available based on financial need.

TheatreTech students will begin classes on June 11. Apprenticeship appointments run through July 23. Tuition is $750, with scholarships available based on financial need.

Theatre Quest students can enroll by contacting PlayMakers education manager Jennifer Wales at (919) 962-2491, Tuition is $300 per week.


Auditions for Theatre Intensive actors (rising 9th graders through recent high school graduates) will take place in the evening on March 21 and throughout the day on March 22 at PlayMakers, located in the Center for Dramatic Art, Country Club Road, on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. Callbacks are scheduled for March 23. 

To apply for Theatre Intensive auditions or a TheatreTech interview, students must complete and submit a Summer Youth Conservatory Registration Form.

The form can be found at

The registration form must be submitted to PlayMakers no later than March 19.

Audition and Interview applicants will be contacted after receipt of their completed registration form to confirm the call time for their appointment.

Web site:

PlayMakers press contact: For media questions about this exciting summertime program, contact Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359,  

Photos from previous Summer Youth Conservatory sessions are available upon request.