Kids meet other kids – in our area we have cities 25 miles apart and through our program we have been fortunate to bring kids from outlying communities together on the stage. Not only do our kids see their classmates on the stage, they see that kids from other communities are just as interested, if not more, in taking the stage.
In our area, we also have many home-school kids who make new acquaintances and friends. Oftentimes the home-school curriculum doesn’t include a drama section, so give workshops to give them a bit of education in that area. We rely on our experiences and our knowledge from working with kids over the years. Many of these kids are involved on a regular basis with our program; some find that theater is just not their cup of tea. Which is absolutely fine; we had them for a brief time and gave them a good exposure to the stage. That will carry them throughout their lives.
In our program we have an invisible mentoring program – peer admiration where younger kids look up to the older kids and the older kids take the younger ones under their wing – all ages learn together making for a more powerful program and production. The kids take ownership in the success of the play, the show, and ultimately growth in the program. We have young siblings in the wings just waiting to get old enough so they can participate in the program. Our minor league is filled with wide-eyed 2, 3 and 4 year olds.
The success of New Artists Productions lies in growth of individuals who participate. We have kids who start out wanting to be on the stage crew – behind the scenes, yet still involved. They do not want to be seen. Then, after the first play on stage crew, they experience the fun theater can be, so they ask to be on the stage, but without any dialog. We accommodate them by putting them in the crowd scenes or in the choral groups – safety in numbers attitude, ‘just get your feet wet.’ Soon, these kids want to have a line or two, and again we accommodate. Then, they want more lines and many have become our lead actors in our major productions.
These kids are developing as actors, but, more importantly, they are developing as young people. Their personalities grow with each play or event; their self-respect the same. We could not be more proud.
What is most gratifying is that we have kids who have been in our program from their elementary school years and into their high school years. Yes they are busy, yes they are involved with other extra-curricular activities, but they always seem to find time for New Artists Productions. It is absolutely the reward we only wished for.