You’ve probably heard about our Education & Outreach programs–maybe you’ve even been to a Summer Stock Austin production or attended the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards. But rarely do we get to hear the experiences of these young people as they go through training, confront their fears, and hone their craft. Texas Arts Project and Summer Stock Austin alumnus Vincent J. Hooper lets us in on what these programs mean to him.
The Texas Arts Project (TAP Camp) and Summer Stock Austin (SSA) were essential to my growth into the performer that I am today. The combined influence of both programs has given me the stamina and drive to pursue what I love and to do so as a gifted collaborator and focused professional artist.
My first foray into the Texas Arts Project immediately entrenched me in an environment that cultivated a creative culture of hard work and dedication while supporting me with a community of equally passionate artists of all ages and backgrounds. From morning group workouts to personalized coaching, TAP Camp made sure to prepare both my body and mind for the rigors of this industry. Additionally, Summer Stock Austin gave me the confidence and endurance to comfortably step into any venue or circumstance and feel as though I could succeed.
During my most recent year participating in Summer Stock, I found myself cast as a lead in all three shows. While it seemed daunting at the time, I knew with focused effort and the support of those around me, I would be able to prevail. Sure enough, the team at Summer Stock Austin came through for me every time.
After bouncing around from one rehearsal to another, my body finally gave out. During the final dress rehearsal of Chicago, my voice had suddenly left me–if I remember correctly this was the last of the three shows to open, and we had an audience the following night. I had no clue what to do but, to my surprise, no one panicked. The director released me from rehearsal early to get some rest, the company of actors and technicians wished me good health, and the head of the costume department even went so far as to buy me a personal steamer! I returned to the stage the next day filled with vigor, knowing that I was a part of a talented, caring team of theatre professionals of all ages.
Though it has been a number of years since I last participated in either program, they both plugged me into a community in which I formed relationships that still sustain to this day. It is my personal and professional opinion that, as a young person looking to grow in their craft and be genuinely challenged and supported, there are no better programs to do so.
Vincent J. Hooper is a two-time B. Iden Payne Award winner (Passing Strange, Hairspray) and performer of stage and screen. He recently co-starred on FOX’s upcoming new crime series Shots Fired and is currently in performances as Stokley Carmichael in ZACH Theatre’s Texas-premiere production of The Great Society.
Visit Education at the Long Center to learn more about Texas Arts Project, Summer Stock Austin, and Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards.