Stéphanie Porter-Nichols | Smyth County News and Messenger
Parents would often watch their children play or undertake improvisations after a stint at Barter Youth Academy. Then they would ask the director, “When do we have our chance? “
Today Michael Gerber decisively answers this question, simply saying: Now.
Gerber, who was director of the youth academy from 2014 to 2017 and has been teaching theater for about 26 years, founded the Appalachian Performing Arts Academy (APAA). The academy’s official first class begins on January 11.
The academy wants to help individuals create and produce their own work.
“It’s open to everyone,” Gerber said, “all ages, all skill levels, all levels of experience.” The academy, he said, can help someone who has worked on stage for years and just wants to hone a skill, and it can also help someone who has never performed.
Gerber believes APAA will be “a great creative outlet for people to explore new ideas on their own.”
“One of my favorite things in the world is seeing someone who hesitates but wants to dive into it… only to suddenly realize that they are good at it. Also see the light go out, ”said Gerber. He said he worked with people who tell him they’re not funny, only to find they are “the best I’ve ever seen” in comedy or improvisation.