A career in theater nurtured from a young age
July 30, 2020 / by Liam Griffin
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
The Mason Community Arts Academy (MCAA), formerly known as the Potomac Arts Academy, has been providing summer programs, community partnerships, and theater classes for students of all ages since its establishment in 2008. Kendall Huheey, who is a rising sophomore at Mason, has been involved with the academy for more than half of her life. In that time, she has fulfilled several different roles within the academy as a student, as a volunteer, and as an employee.
Wearing Different Hats
Huheey’s relationship with the Mason Arts Academy begin when she first worked with Acting for Young People (AFYP) when she was 6, as a student. Her relationship with the Academy began in earnest when she started to attend year-round classes as a 10-year-old, but her time with the Academy was just beginning. When she was 13, she began to volunteer, but not entirely by choice. “I had forgotten to sign up for classes that year,” Huheey says. The roles were just starting though, and not just the on-stage ones. Since that time, Huheey has volunteered to help students, participated in a work-study program, and is now an official employee.
Huheey always held connections to Mason. “My dad is a proud Mason alumnus,” Huheey says. Although, she notes that Mason “was not always my first choice.” Her family also has ties to Virginia Tech, but after touring other colleges, Huheey knew that Mason was the school for her. “Nowhere felt like home as much as Mason,” Huheey says. Still, its familiarity wasn’t the only thing that drew her to Mason. She was also attracted to Mason’s constantly evolving campuses and programs. “Things are still new and growing,” she says. At Mason, Huheey is able to continue her work with the Mason Community Arts Academy, which she describes as “a large, beautiful family.”
Learning on the Job
In her years volunteering and working with the Mason Community Arts Academy, Huheey has taken away numerous lessons. “I’ve really learned the value of a team,” she says. Specifically, she notes how smoothly her classes can run with multiple instructors, and the importance of everyone fulfilling their role for a successful theater production. “I also learn so much every day from other teachers and the students,” she adds. Huheey cites the gradual nature of her work as a key to success. By starting as an assistant for one class, she states that “it’s gradual work, so by the time you’re leading a class on your own, it’s safe and comfortable.”
In her time at the Mason Community Arts Academy, Huheey has gained many memories and lessons. One of her favorites, she says, is her final theater production as a high school student. She played the titular Mary Poppins in the production, and students that she had taught played the roles of Jane and Michael Banks, the children that Mary Poppins tends to in the play. “It was a beautiful closing chapter,” Huheey says, and it prepared her to move forward.
Though she wouldn’t change anything about her own Academy experience, she is looking forward to seeing how the Academy’s relationship with Mason continues to grow. “At Mason,” she says, “it’s great to have this access to more spaces. It’s really beneficial to be on campus.” Huheey says that she would like to see the Academy’s partnership with Mason continue to grow by offering more opportunities for diverse age group or travelling shows.