Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why I love Civic Youth Theatre

I saw the Pay What You Can performance of Civic Youth Theatre's production of The Giver tonight, and I came away with a reminder of why I love the program. It isn't a question of whether the young people involved with these shows become theatre professionals later in life; such training is the focus of colleges and professional theatres. I love Civic Youth Theatre because young people have another venue in which they can express themselves artistically, they learn skills like being part of a team, they increase their self-confidence and they have the opportunity to play and socialize with people their own age without being told to "stop acting up."

I also love Civic Youth Theatre not only because of how it encourages young people, but because it entertains audiences. Stories told in Civic Youth Theatre productions are some of the most imaginative and inventive you might imagine. The Giver takes place in a future Utopia that turns out to have achieved its perfection by forsaking certain liberties and adopting strict guidelines for daily life. It isn't an easy show thematically or technically, and it stretches the actors and the crew to find their peaks. And you know what? They do. The same can be said for numerous CYT productions, including Romeo and Juliet, The Bald Soprano, Still Life with Iris and several others. There are some tremendous performances and stunning moments in CYT productions -- The Giver included -- that truly rival work done in Mainstage shows. I love that young people are brought into the theatre as audience members and can be exposed to a broad range of ideas and entertainment.

I'm proud that Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette offers the CYT program, and prouder still that the extended Greater Lafayette community supports it. New worlds open up when Act I, scene 1 begins, and the young people who experience them create new worlds of their own.

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