Experiencing First Stage at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

*Maria has a BIG imagination that knows no boundaries- and sometimes that makes it hard for her to connect with her peers.


This year, Maria joined First Stage at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. First Stage is a unique, after-school program for third graders from GRPS’ Coit Creative Arts Academy.   During the school year, the students go to Civic Theatre on Thursday afternoons for specially designed classes.   First Stage students will receive an intimate introduction to everything about the theatre from improv and acting, to back-stage activities such as set design and costumes.


Students are divided into groups of seven, which allows for deep interaction and trust with the teachers and between students.   For Maria, this intimate environment has been the key to unlocking her potential. Jess, Maria’s instructor, recognized Maria’s wonderful imagination and silliness and is able to nurture it. Throughout fall classes, Maria blossomed in both self-worth and confidence.   And now rather than shying from her peers, Maria is a leader, using her natural imagination to think outside the box.


In a recent evaluation, students were asked to complete several sentences about their experience. Maria shared:


When I am at theater, I feel: “Happy”

My favorite part of theater is: “Acting”

My least favorite part of theater is: “Nothing”


First Stage is opening up the full theatre experience to new students and audiences and allows Maria, and others like her, find her place to shine.   This program is supported by the Student Advancement Foundation and a donor-advised gift from The Wege Foundation.


*Maria is a pseudonym.

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