Beginnings was founded in the summer of 1984 by Peter Sklar, (Ed.M. Harvard University), as an experimental musical theater clinic for 37 young people from New York's Westchester County. In its early days, the program was open to virtually any aspiring young performer who applied. Enthusiastic word-of-mouth resulted in a tripling of the program's enrollment by the following summer, and a winter program was added. This too tripled in enrollment by its second season. Nation-wide television and newspaper coverage followed, attracting thousands of young people from nearly all fifty states and Europe. As demand grew for the program, workshops were added in London and Stratford, England, (2004), and more recently in Hollywood, California, (2008).
Over the years, Mr. Sklar began to observe fundamental differences among his students as to their relative willingness to make the essential personal changes in their lives necessary for success. Those who were willing to make this effort, not only enjoyed their workshop experience, but were subsequently far more likely to engage in the realistic and effective pursuit of their dreams. As a result, Mr. Sklar began the current practice of limiting workshop invitations to those chosen on the basis of a personal interview. His effort then, as now, was to assess which aspiring performers seemed most amenable to his philosophy: the happiest and healthiest young people are the most marketable.
At the workshop, this view is reinforced by the large presence of Broadway stars, television and film actors, on-set film and television coaches in Hollywood, major New York and Los Angeles casting directors, agents, writers, directors, choreographers, and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England. All of these professionals teach regularly at the workshop, and enthusiastically reinforce Mr. Sklarís philosophy in their classes, coaching sessions, and lectures.
The Beginnings workshop is currently presented several times each year Ė in New York at the beginning and end of summer, in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, England in the Spring, and mid-summer in Hollywood, California. Sessions last six (6) days/five (5) nights and encompass all levels and all styles of performance, from training in Broadway acting, dance, and voice in New York, to classes in British theater and workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England, and acting for film and television in Hollywood. All classes are taught by working professionals in the industry, and each workshop focuses on realistic career options and pursuits, the development of healthy nutritional and lifestyle habits, and positive self-worth.
Young people interested in attending must participate in a complimentary lecture and interview. Locations, dates, and times are posted at the beginning of each month on the Beginnings Facebook Page. At least one of the studentís own parents must attend, with the exception of those eighteen years of age or older.
As of this printing, less than twenty-five (25%) per cent of more than three thousand (3,000) yearly interviewees are invited to the workshop. Those who decline an invitation for any reason, may re-interview the following year, although second invitations are statistically rare.