The Performing Arts Group

The Performing Arts Group

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What happens when a multi-talented individual like Sean Panting joins forces with Patricia Andrews’ The Performing Arts Group? The sky becomes the limit 

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The Performing Arts Group is Patricia Andrews’ baby. With 25 years of teaching the arts to children and adults in this province under her belt, she feels she has gained some valuable insight. “Acting in general, or any kind of performance, begins with having the confidence to just do it ,” she begins with a smile. 

The World of Acting

Well, just doing ‘it’ is great, but wouldn’t an individual require some kind of talent before venturing into the world of acting? Andrews laughs, gesturing towards the multi-talented Sean Panting who, beginning Sept. 19, will be teaching the evening adult class on Wednesdays.

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“You learn how to play piano, you take lessons to learn how to sing, and you take lessons to learn how to act. We have a terrible way of talking about the arts and the word talent keeps coming up. When I was teaching music, my first job was teaching people who thought they had no talent to just give it a shot. You don’t need to have a God given talent to do anything. You learn the skills. Everybody can learn,” Panting says.

Acting is no different than learning anything else, he continues.

“People have an idea that there’s something mystical in this acting process, but it isn’t. If you were going to be a plumber you need to know certain things, and acting is the same. There’s too much of; Oh! Divine inspiration from above hasn’t stuck yet. Well, everyone kind of sucks when they do this for the first time. Angels don’t fly down from the sky for anyone the first time. Acting is a skill that you practice. And the process is fun. No one is excluded. This is not an exclusive club.”

Andrews opens her arms wide, as if inviting in the world at large.  

“Acting is for everyone. Not everyone is an extrovert but then sometimes it’s the introvert who’s the most fascinating to watch onstage,” she says.

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Industry Experts

Some adults take classes as a hobby, others to perfect their craft. Some become gainfully employed, while others simply become more confident presenting at office budget meetings. 

“I’ve been teaching for 25 years and while I love to teach, I really rely on the experts in the arts industry to make the program we have a broader experience for those involved. I believe in the talent other artists bring to the table, like what Sean can bring to the adult class,” says Andrews.

Founded in 1995, The Performing Arts Group produces up to 40 Barbara Barrett theatre productions annually showcasing new talent of all ages. Classes are held at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre throughout the year and the school’s students are often called upon by those in the film and television community. Percy Hynes White, his mother Sherry White, Terri Andrews, Janet Cull, Roger Maunder and Justin Nurse are but some former alumni. 

Why is Panting involved? Because of the next generation, he says. “I became conscious of the Performance Arts Group through my kids, like a lot of people. I have an 11 year old and a 12 year old in there and they are both artistically inclined in various ways. I saw how well that group fit with my son Gerry, who is on the autism spectrum. It brought him out of himself  and I liked what I saw.”

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That didn’t mean he thought he was born to teach, however. “I was still hesitant, but I feel when you make a life and a career in the arts the best thing you can do is be a mentor. When I started out I had people to look up to and people who really gave me genuine chances to do things. A guy like Andy Jones is indispensable in this town because he is not always protecting his position, he’s not trying to push you out he’s trying to welcome you in.”

‘The Next Generation’

Panting, who has a busy enough career in his own right, felt he needed to give back.

“I would rather be one of those welcoming others in than someone trying to hang on for dear life. The next generation of actors is coming and I’d really like to be part of that process rather than try to close the door on someone.”

Andrews explains Panting will be teaching a little of everything. From auditioning for film and commercials to the process of stepping on the stage.

“It’s about sharing the knowledge. Sean is successful; loved him on Republic of Doyle.  Now pass that learning on,” says Andrews. 

Panting smiles. “People don’t need to be looking for a career. Rehearsal is where all the good stuff happens, it’s not just landing a TV show. Where all the interesting stuff happens inside of you is in rehearsal and that’s open to people who just want to learn. There comes a point in every rehearsal process where you go; if the end of the world happened and this never makes it to stage, I’ve really learned a lot and this felt really great.”

Andrews agrees, adding; “It’s great for self confidence. And you need that no matter what you do. I’m contacted weekly about auditions and not a lot of adults go to auditions; they are nurses or lawyers and they go; acting?!? No! Then they go on and add to our arts community.” 

Love of acting

Acting is for everyone, Panting shares. “My son fits in pretty well, the arts is an inclusive group, there’s not a type. Let’s have less judgment about being prepared. Try out what doesn’t work because how will you find out what works if you don’t know what doesn’t?” 

Andrews gets the last word.

“I’m so grateful for these past 25 years. And I’m grateful to Sean. He’s going to share his experience and his love of what he does. Having him join us is just a gift for our students.” 

 Cost is $275 for 10 weeks, two hours per evening. Show held in The Barbara Barrett Theatre mid Nov. Classes begin Sept. 19. For more visit: theperformingartsgroup.ca

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Pam is the Managing Editor of The Newfoundland Herald. As the mother of two, she proudly writes about a life lived simply at home on 'The Rock.' When not interviewing or writing about NL's finest, Pam can be found spending her time in the great Newfoundland outdoors.

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