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Traveling Players Ensemble Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Environment, Environmental Education, Theater

Mission: Traveling Players Ensemble was founded in 2003 by Producing Artistic Director Jeanne E. Harrison as a 501(c)(3) professional theatre company based in Great Falls, Virginia. Geared toward teenagers, the mission of Traveling Players is to enhance problem-solving skills, self-reliance, self-expression, and a heightened appreciation of both challenges and beauty by bringing great theatre into the great outdoors. Our mission reflects the earliest origins of theatre, when traveling minstrels and theatre troupes roamed the ancient and medieval countryside, relying on the barest props and the boldest imagination to convey their art. During our four- to six-week summer sessions, participants camp out, rehearse, and perform outdoors in beautiful and historic places, like the Shenandoah National Park and Colonial Williamsburg, cultivating stronger, more adaptable and more capable artists and individuals.

Programs: Since 2003, traveling players has served over 3100 happy campers and presented morethan 470 performances. Originally called "a little known summer gem for the buddingactor" by the washington post, traveling players has been featured twice on wamu's"metro connection" (npr). In 2007, we were selected as one of 25 model summerschools in the arts by the national endowment for the arts for our intensive and comprehensive curriculum. Our students are regularly cast in professional performances such as round house theater sarah plays, and 11 students have won their schools' english-speaking union shakespeare competitions, including a regional victory in 2006. Three times traveling players students have won their county competition of the national endowment for the arts' national poetry out loud competition, with two winning the state round and competing nationally. Our students have also competed and won in county, state and national forensics competitions. Achievements include invited performances at the international children's festival, reston multicultural festival, kennedy enter's millennium stage, folger shakespeare library's secondary school festival, and a specially commissioned production for the environmental protection agency. The washington post featured us as a weekend pick, we receive frequent ensemble and acting prizes at festivals, and our students are often offered artistic and merit scholarships to college.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son attended Traveling Players Ensemble (TPE) for several years. He made life long friends, gained tremendous confidence, and found a career direction. TPE is a wonderful experience for students. The atmosphere is encouraging, positive, and challenges the students for do their best. TPE truly is a "GREAT Nonprofit."

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has gone to summer camp at Traveling Players Ensemble for 4 years running. He has gained incredible self-confidence, treasured friendships, and outstanding acting skills. Traveling Players is a wonderfully supportive postive experience for teens and pre-teens. The environment is encouraging and nurturing. The director, Jeanne Harrison, has an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what roles the students need for their growth and success. She and all the employees at TPE are the best! Thanks to the experiences my son has gotten from his time at TPE, he is now cast for major roles in his High School's theatre performances, and it has inspired him to want to continue with Theatre in college. We cannot begin to say enough wonderful things about this program. It is truely a gem!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been a student and then a staff member for TPE. As a student, it changed my life: it made me more confident because I was constantly valued by the staff and the fellow students for things I was good at (like cooking for the group on tour and on camp-outs) and encouraged in the things I found hard (speaking loudly, asserting myself). I began to feel less alone at that most isolating of times, adolescence, as I met other students who were interested in the same things as I was. I learned more from TPE about theater than from any other theater program, especially about classical theater. Particularly important was the number of people who were theater professionals with master’s degrees in directing, acting, etc. There are a great number of staff trained from the Dell’Arte institute, and this is probably the most specialized place anywhere for students to learn Commedia Dell’Arte. Our stage combat teacher is probably the most valued professional in that area in the entire DC area. We constantly had visiting artists from various theaters in DC. At the same time, once I became a staff member I particularly appreciated how much the program was designed for the personal growth of teenagers as well as their artistic development. Even the youngest staff receive an entire week of training about how to teach students appropriate to their age level, how to manage the group dynamics of the different troupes, great outdoors skills, CPR, first aid and mandatory reporting, etc.
Ultimately, the best thing about TPE is that the small groups of students bond so closely and deeply. I am still very close with many of the students I met at TPE, many more than from my high school. Part of this is a general ethos of openness and creativity that allows for play in every part of the camp. The students are encouraged to come up with bus songs, campout games, and to improvise new things to add to their performances, so that they soon do these kind of independent creative exercises without prompting. And this combination of having a close group of good friends and the freedom to explore is what made much of my childhood at TPE so memorable and what still influences me today.

Valerie17

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved with Traveling Players last year as a board member, before my daughter started attending TPE. I was floored by the enthusiasm, commitment to theatre and the outdoors and the dedication that the creative director and her team has to the kids who attend. My middle school-aged daughter is now in her second summer with TPE and absolutely loves it!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our kids have taken classes with TPE over the years. They provide excellent acting and team building skills to their students. Our kids have build lasting relationships with the counselors and fellow classmates.

David81

Client Served

Rating: 5

We found TPE through family friends and both of my daughters have absolutely fallen in love with the program, the people and its entire ethos. Heck, their hearts go pitter-patter at the mere site of the purple TPE bus. They have made very close friendships and have grown as people through their summers at TPE.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I became involved with TPE over 7 years ago - working each summer with the students and teaching them Outdoor Ethics. Year after year, I came back and found a group of attentive, talented, and exceptionally supportive kids who cared about others and the world we live in. I joined the board 6 years ago and have continued to volunteer working with the students, watching so many of them grow into thoughtful, capable and inspiring adults. The program at TPE is just so unique and so transformational. It really is one of a kind.

Amye E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

In short, TPE is the best thing to ever happen to me. It's played a huge part in shaping the person I am. The skills I've gained and the friends I've made are more than I ever could have asked for. For me, there's no place I'd rather be. The energy and the people make it the absolute greatest place in the world. I hope it continues to bring others as much joy as it's brought me. Thank you.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter attended for 3 years, was a counselor for 2. My son is going back for his second summer. Both kids also took courses during the year. For both kids, this camp was life-changing. My daughter developed a passion for theater that led her to make her own short films, work as a college sophomore on films about a Ghana non-profit, and will probably include some aspect of theater or film in her professional career. She also gained immeasurable social support from the friends she made, and having a set of friends outside her highschool was really important to her. My son, who has mild expressive language difficulties, has developed the ability to express himself dramatically (I never thought I would see him stand on a chair to make a point!) and gained great social confidence as a result. Both kids also had a blast, and the quality of the performances is amazingly high. My son was in a performance of King Lear which held senior citizens with mild demential spell bound for almost two hours. I couldn't believe that high school students could perform a play so well, to such a difficult audience. The directors and technical staff are all theater professionals with advanced degrees, but the camp also is nuturturing and supportive of youth development. Now that the camp is a decade old, we can also see that many of its graduates are making careers in performace of some sort. Full disclosure--I'm so impressed by this camp that I am also a donor and considering becoming a Board member.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My daughter is a college freshman this year, and she participated in TPE classes and summer programs throughout high school. This experience was fabulous for her, truly life-changing in terms of her self-confidence and leadership ability. She also made some great friends and sees the regularly. Jeanne Harrison and her staff are incredible mentors and excellent role models! And my daughter's college acceptance letter even commented on her involvement with theater.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Traveling Players has been an amazing experience that has changed my life in numerous ways. I have learned so much about acting in such a supportive environment. At TPE I feel comfortable being who I am. On the first day I was really nervous but by the end of my four weeks I had made many friends who I really value. They are all really friendly and understanding. TPE has made me feel confident about who I am and I feel comfortable acting at TPE. Last summer was my first summer at TPE but even in that short amount of time I have grown to be a better actor and a better person.

I have not spent as much time with Jeanne Harrison as many of my fellow campers but the time I have spent with her has been amazing. She directed me in Wolftrap remount when is which we revisited our play from the summer and presented it at the Wolftrap International Children's Festival. Jeanne was a marvelous director and really spent time with each cast member, valuing their ideas and opinions. Toby Mulford, Associate Artistic Director is also great to work with. He is really encouraging and really funny. He is a blast to work with!

The staff at TPE are so dedicated and caring. They seemed so delighted to be at TPE and it showed. It was really great to feel valued at an individual. TPE has been so much fun and a great learning experience.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been acting with Traveling Players for the past 6 years, and it's been absolutely stunning. Jeanne (the producing artistic director) and the kids have revolutionized the way I think of myself as an actor and an individual. During the school year, I think about my actions in terms of how they shape who I want to be for camp next summer.
I started out in Moliere's "Learned Ladies" back in 6th grade and I've kept friends from that show that are closer than my school friends are today. Since then, I've done middle school ensemble three times, high school ensemble once, and traveling troupe twice. I love the combination of the outdoors and theatre. It's remarkably freeing to act in an outdoor space and practice there, embracing the dirt as we do yoga warmups. Then going on tour, especially with Traveling Troupe, which tours in a giant purple bus for two weeks, you get SO close to your fellow-actors and hone your craft (as you get to try new things in the many different venues and performances). Now, I have enough starry nights and inside jokes to last a lifetime.

1 Cassie M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Traveling Players provided me with profound artistic and personal experiences as a teenager and young adult. The friendships I formed at Traveling Players remain some of the most fulfilling I have ever experienced, and the theatrical training has been unmatched. From the camping portion of TPE, I learned how to adapt, use my resources, and trust other people. I found a connection to nature that I had not experienced previously. The theatrical side of TPE certainly made me a better student at school, but also gave me a window into the power of theatre to transform the participants and audience members. The combination of intense theatrical training and outdoor education is entirely unique and powerful. No other organization I know of achieves what TPE does.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

It’s been both a tremendous honor and a great pleasure of mine to be able to learn and grow as a person and an actor with the Traveling Players these past four years of my life. Though often I have the opportunity to reflect on the near addictive environment of fun that so thoroughly permeates every pore of the TPE experience, I don’t often pause to soak in just how much the many summer camps and school year classes have actually given to me as tools to use in my life not merely as a Shakespearean actor, but also as a student and a young adult facing the looming prospect of life on my own. TPE has been one of those rare places for me, a sort of holy zone, that is set aside from my daily trials and tribulations and I can focus on developing my passion for theatre around people that quickly have become the best of my friends.

Though I’m not the stereotypical “theatrical introvert” who finds by default the strongest connections to others who share my love for the stage, many of the kids I’ve met through Traveling Players are my closest friends and confidants, even removed from the context of the camp itself. These bonds are not merely products of networking among the people of similar ages in the theatre community, like the friendships I’ve been able to get out of other theatre companies, but are friendships formed through the shared experience of the aspects of TPE that are unique to it; working with our hands, camping, hiking, observing, listening, sharing, and being members of a very pronounced and incredibly supportive community.

These elements are so unlike anything else we get to experience as teenagers that the friends we make out of it are so much deeper and connected than any others we make at our age. It is hard for me to put into words, this intangible quality that TPE possesses that gives each and every one of its members such an overwhelming feeling of safety and love whenever we are there. So strong in fact, that even as a seventeen year old high school junior, I have middle school friends to whom I’ve confided things that I’ve haven’t disclosed to a soul in the entirety of my own school.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

For the 6 years I have been to traveling players, I have grown so much as a person and an actor. The staff and fellow campers have created a welcoming community where so many benefit. You grow and learn all while creating beautiful works of art. The love campers have for the program shows it is a wonderful place that I'd like to see continue for many years.

1 Gwen O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Traveling Players Ensemble is more than meets the eye. On the surface, it's a professional theater company, and it does live up to its mission and does an amazing job of training teens in outdoor classical theater. The staff are engaging, brilliant and highly qualified, and every performer gets more than enough personalized attention and instruction.

But even more amazing is the community that has sprung up around this organization. Teenagers and theater professionals from around the DC area form lasting friendships and learn extremely valuable life lessons from their camp experiences.

I have been coming to TPE for 3 years and I wish I had discovered it sooner! I am eternally grateful for the chance to work with founding artistic director Jeanne Harrison and especially appreciative of the camp's fledgling Film Crew program. The winter classes, particularly Shakespeare in Performance, are also superb.

Traveling Players has had a huge positive impact on my life, and I know it has impacted the lives of my other TPE friends in significant ways. Since coming to TPE, I've begun to live from summer to summer. I can't possibly praise this organization enough.