Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute, a leadership development program training teenagers to use their passion for the arts to promote social justice and equity, is accepting applications.

Applications for first year students are now open. The deadline to apply is May 31. For more details, visit

July 8 marks the start of Summer Institute, with classes running through Aug. 2 at the University of Minnesota and Penumbra Theatre. The summer intensive ends in an evening of original work written and performed by the students on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. at Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul.

As part the four-week program, students ages 13 to 18 work alongside faculty, professional artists, interns and teens in a strive to eliminate racism, violence, and intolerance through performance. During the month of July, students engage in coursework Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to build trust, take risks and think critically about what kind of world they want to help build. They explore who they are and discover their own power to make change, taking classes such as “Art with Intent” and “Activist Art Lab” as well as African-based movement, ensemble acting, improvisation, music, performance, writing, and yoga.

Summer Institute includes more than 50 percent of students who identify as African-American and more than 50 percent who identify as female. Approximately 60 percent of the total students enrolled receive full or partial scholarship.

The first-year track focuses on art for social change and the basic elements of artistic craft. The final project, “Awake,” is an original ensemble performance about the social issues the students deem relevant and urgent.

In addition to engaging students in coursework and artistic training, Summer Institute provides a wide variety of enrichment opportunities as well as subsidized meals, transportation and tickets to Penumbra performances. Students become acquainted with college life at the University of Minnesota through dormitory stays and tours of the West Bank campus. They also receive professional headshots and resume development to prepare them for future arts opportunities. Snacks and lunches are provided every day and complimentary bus passes are available for student travel to and from the classroom and Penumbra Theatre.

Summer Institute runs in tandem with Penumbra’s Institute for Interns, an internship program designed to give undergraduate students an opportunity to explore innovative and communal ways to teach art and social justice. This year’s participating interns have the opportunity to participate in Summer Institute courses, work with the professional instructors, and test run their creative ideas. The interns will explore and deepen their comprehension of integrated educative practices that use art as a platform for learning, expression, and activism. The deadline to apply to the Institute of Interns is April 15. Details are at

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