Students actively learn through the Backstage Intensive Program

Center High School students in Muriel Kauffman Theatre before beginning a backstage tour led by Production Services Manager Don Hovis.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

Backstage Intensive, an Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative, allows students to participate in a special behind-the-scenes experience at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. After two years of presenting this program virtually, Backstage Intensive is back to being offered in-person this season. Face-to-face interactions with students provide a deeper and more personal understanding of all the elements and roles it takes to put on a flawless performance.

During the Backstage Intensive experience students are introduced to careers within technical theatre including lighting, sound and stage management. In addition, they learn about administrative roles such as marketing, ticketing and patron services. Students gain a valuable understanding of the hard work and collaboration it takes to run a premier performing arts venue. 

This fall, three local schools took part in the Backstage Intensive program, Center High School, Ruskin High School and Turner High School. 

Each Backstage Intensive date started with a tour of Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Helzberg Hall and the backstage spaces at the Kauffman Center. After this comprehensive tour, students engaged in demonstrations and presentations with staff members from various departments and disciplines.

“It was a very educational and fun experience,” said a Center High School junior.

Students learn about stage management and participate in a hands-on activity with Director of Theater Operations Sara Beatty, CVP.
Photo by Albania Andrade.

Eric Miller, production services manager, provides insight into how lighting designs are created and planned.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

The impact of the Backstage Intensive program on students is invaluable. Many times, those who participate in this program have never been exposed to an environment or backstage space like those at the Kauffman Center. This is a great way for them to see all the job opportunities at a performing arts center.

A 10th-grade-student from Ruskin High School said, “I will use this information to consider my future.”  

“The Backstage Intensive program has shown my students a multitude of ways they can pursue a career in theatre. The most impactful experience for them was being on the stages and learning about the lighting effects from the demonstrations,” said Mr. Moyer, theater teacher at Ruskin High School.

He believes that it’s great to have students participate in interactive workshops facilitated by onsite professionals. These engaging activities are always memorable to them.

Students inside the Muriel Kauffman Theatre’s sound booth learn about audio techniques and equipment used during performances.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

At the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, we want everyone to experience excellence. The Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiatives offers a diverse set of programs that connect young people with the thriving performing arts venue.

To learn more about the Backstage Intensive program and other programs offered for school groups, visit