Head of Silver State Stars running ambitious student theater program
A stage-struck Carson City student grew into a world traveler who kept her love of footlights bright, then brought it home to share with students at Silver State Charter Schools.Abbey Gardner, 30, is a Carson High School and UNLV graduate who took her show on the road a few years before returning to Nevada, eventually joining Silver State in the city where she started.“I did drama, dance and choir growing up in Carson,” she said. “I knew from about 16 that I wanted to be a drama teacher.”But while at UNLV on a Millennium Scholarship majoring in performance and technical theater course-work, she spent a year in England. Later she spent a year in New Zealand and eventually moved to San Francisco to do various theater jobs.In the Bay Area, she was a stage manager for theater companies and also taught after-school drama classes in elementary schools.“I almost went into professional stage managing, but I wanted to work with kids,” she said. Stage-struck doesn’t leave without a bow, however, so stage managing still might beckon in the future. “I still think of doing that some day,” she said.Working with students won out for now, however, and she spent 2006-09 getting a masters degree and teaching credentials while she taught sixth grade in Reno for two of those years. She did the course-work at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village and Reno. Gardner, who had earned her bachelor of arts in theater from UNLV earlier, now works with about 30 or so students each year at Silver State Middle and High School.She has a full plate, teaching digital photography, hands-on technology, film, basic computer, heading the drama department and spearheading the Silver State yearbook.Her Silver State Stars program, which includes about 30 or so students each year, includes a full plate for her students as well.This year, she said, shows include: An improvisational performance; “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;” a winter showcase of one-act plays, scenes and monologues; a talent show; a play called “Pistols and Posies;” a performance called “Acting with the Stars” made up of Saturday Night Live-type skits using students and adults from the community; and a Theater to the Schools show for grade school performances of a show called “Rap-punzel.”“I’ve tried to grow the program,” she said, noting she has been with Silver State four years. Gardner also directed the Proscenium Players, Inc. presentation of “Steel Magnolias” at the Brewery Arts Center this summer. She serves on the Nevada State Thespian Board and the Proscenium Players, Inc. Board.