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Theatre Arts School of San Diego makes some good out of a B.A.D. year

Nothing can stop the talented young performers of the Theatre Arts School of San Diego from performing, creating, and exploring creative limits -not even a small thing like a pandemic. Drawing inspiration from the current situation, the young performers have created a multi-episode video series called THE ISLAND OF B.A.D. KIDS and the first episode drops on Sunday, August 30th. Founder and Director Courtney Corey talks about the creativity and the tenacity it took for this cast of 25 emerging digital theatre, animation, and visual artists to put this all together.

Courtney Corey, who was nominated for the 2020 Excellence in Theatre Education Tony Award this year has used her experience as a performer in WICKED, RENT, as well as working with The Old Globe, the La Jolla Playhouse, and the San Diego Rep to help develop the next generation of theatre artists. So when the pandemic hit, she hit the ground running to use her experience to come up with new ways for her performers to collaborate.

B.A.D. Cast: (upper left to right) Anton Schneiderwind, Delilah Kambourakis, Ando Naruishi, Roberto Cone, Elena Rubio, Grace Davis, Madeline Tulagan, Kai West, Tulasi Napolitani, Asa Horpayak, Will Baker, Alison Holmes, Natalia Nava, Val Von der Kret, Dempsey Baker, Neeku Nemati, Neelu Nemati, Izzie Agostino, Jamie McKenna, Saisha Sharma, Melanie Tulagan, Averie Chandra, Siaki Malone, Belén Palomino Young, Iridae Cordeau, Josh Buenviaje

THE ISLAND OF B.A.D. KIDS production is a mini-series of three episodes where audiences will experience performance, poetry, scene work, monologues, artwork, and animation. As Corey explains, this is a show that stretched the casts imagination by using what is going on around them for inspiration.

“The story begins the second week of March, as news arrives that schools are being shut down. Students leave school with unresolved feelings, unfinished projects, and their plans for the remainder of the school year are unknown. Many of them feel BAD. They are castaway to their islands (their homes), shut off from friends, teachers, and their community. After braving the swell of the initial storm, the waters calm, and they learn to use the resources on their islands. They discover art and music, which helps them connect with the outside world. And, pretty soon, their bad feelings reside and they learn they are BEAUTIFUL, BOLD, BRAVE / AWESOME, AUTHENTIC, AMAZING / DARING, DYNAMIC, and DOPE.

At the heart of this piece is a super cool score, composed by my husband, Matthew Armstrong and I wrote the lyrics. The style of the music is EDM – electronic dance music. It’s so different from anything we have ever written together, and now I am completely in love with writing in this genre. I think it speaks to what kids want to sing. And it is great for our audiences. We all need to fill our hearts with a good strong beat right now.”

B.A.D. Cast: (left to right) Alison Holmes, Natalia Nava, Siaki Malone, Ando Naruishi, Josh Buenviaje

Creating and rehearsing virtually meant adapting to new programs, experimenting with effective ways to rehearse using Zoom, learning drawing and animation, and having the cast members be brave as they embraced any new challenges that came their way.

“Theatre has taught me to constantly recalibrate. When it comes to connection, it is important to realize that these artists are in their own sacred space, at home. I think the community of young artists that we have at TAS+SD are genuinely incredible people. We have a diverse group of artists that are gracious and collaborative. So, it is a very welcoming group. That makes running our classes and rehearsals a piece of cake – even though we are all far away from one another.”

I asked a lot of them – I have over 1500 files sitting on my computer! I had to learn software that I have never explored before. But, I see that as a HUGE positive.”

Rehearsal schedules varied and one week could see the cast working on everything from art projects that made it into the series, to full company film rehearsal, to small art meetings with animators and artists, and then into music rehearsals. With some fun trivia nights to keep the fun and and connection going. There were even some filming using a drone, to keep everyone pandemic safe.

“It was so wonderful to see them. We drove to their houses, all over San Diego county. Matt and I set up a drone in their driveway, with our masks on, and filmed the cast members in their yards. That was really fun!”

Luckily, since this she was working from home on all of this as well Corey says this project was a fun collaboration with her husband, Matt Armstrong who created the entire score for this project while also working on his professional pursuits as well.

“I appreciate my husband, and the work he does. He is working teaching for the San Marcos Unified School District, AND developing arts resources for all families so they can engage with their children, providing free workshops for the community at-large, working with the team at Yamaha on innovating new things for students….and writing a full score for this project with me. We enjoy writing together, even though the deadlines approach quickly. We are a great team!”

THE ISLAND OF B.A.D. KIDS mini-series proves that even when you’re far apart, theatre teamwork makes the dreamwork!

Episode release dates are as follows:

EPISODE 1 – Premieres Sunday, August 30 at 6:30PM (PT)

EPISODE 2 – Premieres Sunday, September 13 at 6:30PM (PT)

EPISODE 3 – Premieres Sunday, September 27 at 6:30PM (PT)

*Episodes will remain on the site after each premiere to ensure ALL audiences get to experience this show!

Join TAS+SD for FACEBOOK WATCH parties on the following dates/times:

EPISODE 1 – Sunday, August 30 at 6:30PM (PT)

EPISODE 2 – Sunday, September 13 at 6:30PM (PT)

EPISODE 3 – Sunday, September 27 at 6:30PM (PT)

*Director Courtney Corey will host a pre-show Facebook LIVE chat 10 minutes prior to each WATCH PARTY time.


There are no tickets required to experience THE ISLAND OF B.A.D. KIDS, however, donations to Theatre Arts School of San Diego can be made via the website.

For more interviews click here

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