New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
SETTING THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS
West Haven councilwoman’s acting studio ‘builds you as an actor but also as a person’
WEST HAVEN — Treneé McGee sees Big Apple talent in the state’s Friendliest City.
McGee, councilwoman for West Haven’s 7th District, has been a working actor since age 3. Now, she’s looking to bring her New York City theater training to West Haven for local actors ages 5 to 18.
McGee’s TDM Productions and Actors Studio at 413 Campbell Ave. will have its grand opening Oct. 2.
“It’s been a dream of mine for some time,” McGee said.
McGee has worked as an acting coach across the state, often traveling to where young actors are to provide coaching, guidance and advice. Now, she’s ready to provide classes for groups in a storefront to give young people the push they need.
At TDM Productions and Actors Studio, McGee said there will be several classes, including an intro-level class to teach stage terminology such as stage right and stage left, but one of the most important offerings will be
“Improv is the class that takes you outside of yourself. It helps you to see your potential outside of how you function normally. It’s creative, it’s fun, it builds you as an actor but also as a person by working on leadership skills,” she said.
McGee scored a role on “Sesame Street” directly out of an improv class in New York City. She said she would want to see local youths get the same experience without the travel.
“I want to give kids an in-depth experience into what it’s like to study acting, similar to studying in a class in New York City,” she said.
Juwan Lee is a living testimonial of McGee’s coaching. Lee entered Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet School as a freshman unsure whether he wanted to continue pursuing his interest in music or majoring in theater at the arts magnet school.
McGee arrived at the high school, her alma mater, in partnership with Long Wharf Theatre to coach students for the
National August Wilson Monologue Competition. Lee said the quality McGee enhanced the most in him was his “boldness.”
“I was always the person in the corner,” he said.
Lee began receiving private coaching from McGee two years later, and by the time he was a senior he made it the national finals for the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Today, he is studying theater at Morehouse College.
“I’m glad I made it this far. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be this far in my academics with drama,” he said.
McGee said that, even if students don’t want to pursue careers in the theater arts, the skills from acting classes are broadly applicable to a developing child or preteen.
“Arts education is so important, because it built my confidence,” she said. “We are a city that understands and celebrates and respects sports, and that’s important, but I see improv serving as a benefit to students who want to speak more, to build, to grow, to develop more confidence interacting with people.”