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August 27, 2009

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August 27, 2009

Acme Theatre Company is more than a nonprofit organization. I made more friends in my one year with this company that my 3 years of high school, both in the company and in the community we served. Acme has helped me develop myself as a person, but also helped me become a part of my community.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

myself, my peers, my family and my school.

More feedback...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach above and beyond it's greatest potential, taking the entire community with it and inspiring future generations.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 24, 2009

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August 24, 2009

I am 16 years old and have been a member of Acme for 4 years. During that time I have learned far more about leadership, stress control, responsibilty, and family than I could ever have learned anywhere else. I am the Master Costumer and with this post comes duties such as designing costumes, teaching teens to sew, keeping track of all the costumes as well as fixing any of those repairs that just pop up. The skills I've learned in Acme have definitely affected my success as a leader everywhere else and I could not possibly have wished for a better company to teach me.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Every teen who joins, by the time they graduate they are always so much stronger in who they are and what they feel is important.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Try and reach out more to students in different cities.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The experience I've gotten and the incredible connections I've made with the people.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Strong teens who were all elected into positions that constitute designing every aspect of the show and making sure everything runs smoothly.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Build it's own theatre and never have trouble looking for rehearsal spaces all over town. We could make the design aspects so much more advanced and invest in other city events.

Ways to make it better...

Youth weren't required to leave the company at the end of the summer of their senior year.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

The difficulty of renting theatre space from the city.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 24, 2009

more

August 24, 2009

The nonprofit group known as Acme Theatre Company has, for 29 years, dedicated itself to bringing high quality, fun, affordable theatre to the community of Davis, Ca, in a manner that enables teenagers age 13 through 18 to take charge and become leaders both on and off the stage. The finances of Acme Theatre Company are controlled by an organization known colloquially as "The Invisible Council of Elders," or ICE. ICE does not control anything relating to the artistic direction of any of the theatrical performances, but rather, simply makes sure that Acme follows all rules and regulations such as obtaining release forms and maintaining high standards of safety at all times. The majority of the company never actually interacts with ICE (I never have), hence the "invisible" nature of the group. The more important governing group within Acme Theatre Company is the "Acme Council of Executives," or ACE, a legislative body comprised entirely of students. The members of ACE are democratically elected once a year by the general population of Acme Theatre Company, and the services they provide to the company are invaluable in making artistic conception a theatrical reality: the Production Manager handles publicity; the Stage Manager takes charge of corralling the actors and maintaining backstage safety; the Master Carpenter teaches fellow students how to operate drills, saws, and other set-building equipment in a safe and secure manner to ensure that massive sets come to life without causing any injuries in the process; the Costumer turns strips of fabric and old stuff found in thrift stores into works of art upon the actors' body; the Master Electrician programs light boards, focuses lights and finds public domain sound effects when necessary; the Properties Master manages the vast array of props at the company's disposal and makes sure none of the dangerous props (such as sabers and starter pistols) wind up causing harm to any of the actors; the Education Program Coordinator organizes the company's annual field trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and runs the company's Summer Kids' Program (more on that later); and the Webmaster ensures everyone is free from harassment and foul language on the company's heavily trafficked message board. ACE also includes two Members-At-Large, whom are often considering running for one of the other positions with more responsibility and first want to experience what being an ACE member is like. In charge of this whole show is the Artistic Director of the company, an adult appointed by ICE to choose, conceptualize, cast and direct the three full-length productions that Acme puts on every season. For 28 years, Dave Burmester, who founded the company in 1980, was the artistic director of Acme Theatre Company. He just recently stepped down to retire and Emily Henderson, an Acme alumna and Wellesley graduate, took over as Artistic Director. Directing all three plays for the first time this past season, Emily chose Macbeth for the Winter Show, The Beaux' Strategem by George Farquhar (Adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig) for the Spring Show (which is free) and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes (hereafter referred to as TML) for the Summer Show. The latter production was originated by the Neo-Futurists of Chicago, but Emily chose to allow the entire cast the opportunity to generate its own two-minute plays in celebration of TML being Acme's 100th show. Thus, TML contained entirely original material developed by students age 13 through 18; the company generated a total of 80 plays and split them in rotation amongst two unique casts. Perhaps the most valuable service Acme Theatre Company provides for the community is the Summer Kids' Program, the one and only aspect of the company which is also run through the City of Davis (although some feel that since the company is independent of City finances in all other areas, the Kids' Program should also be under Acme's full dominion since Acme members [colloquially called Acme-ites] actually do all the work in the Kids' Program with nothing more than legal ties to the City). I wrote three plays for the Kids' Program, one of which I directed, and have helped out with the shows every summer in which I have been a member of the company. Working with the elementary and junior high school-age children is a wonderful learning experience not only for the kids, but for the high school students who work with them as well. One summer, three plays were set to be performed (one of which I wrote), but not enough kids signed up for the program, so I was allowed to direct full-fledged Acme-ites in my play, which rehearsed alongside the kids. This experience was very encouraging to the children in the Kids' Program who hoped to perform in full productions of Acme shows once they were older as they could see the "big kids" going through the same process they were. I wrote one of my two college essays about this experience, and it got me into UC Berkeley, which I currently attend. For more information about Acme Theatre Company and the Summer Kids' Program, please read this article, of which the following is an excerpt: http://www.davislifemagazine.com/Content.aspx?m=5/1/2008&cId=1214 "One of Acme’s enduring legacies to the city of Davis is its summer program which began 25 years ago. This is a theater program that introduces kids to theater, starting with opportunities for children in kindergarten and first grade with the Drama Potpourri program. This is an introduction to some of the elements of drama – getting kids used to expressing themselves through pantomime and wearing costumes. The Introduction to Drama course is for students entering the third and fourth grades, and focuses more intensely on the elements of stagecraft and performing. The course ends with an evening of short plays, which the class presents. Drama Production is for children entering fifth through eighth grades, and focuses on elements of acting, as well as the more technical aspects of a theater production. This course culminates in one-act plays, entirely coordinated by the members of the Acme Theatre Company. While on the surface, this sounds like a fairly standard drama program, keep in mind it is run entirely by the members of the Acme Theatre Company – these are teenagers, taking the skills they’ve learned and teaching them to younger kids. Many of the children in the programs go on to become members of the Acme Company." While I listed myself as "Volunteer" under the section that asks for my role in the company, I just as easily could have listed myself as a "Client Served." Being a volunteer for the company actually provided a service not only to the community, but to myself as well. For instance, when I helped to rebuild the stage at the local Davis Art Center (the decrepit stage upon which Acme had traditionally performed its Spring Show), I both contributed to the company and improved the community in which I lived. Of all nonprofit organizations, Acme is the most highly sophisticated (most especially considering how little resources we have) and most valuable for mental, emotional and physical health of the average American teenager. I only wish that Acme were in more locations than just Davis, Ca. Perhaps someday it shall be. -Alex Kravitz Visit Acme's website for information about the our 30th Season (09-10), in which we will perform Eurydice, As You Like It, and The Three Musketeers: http://www.acmetheatre.net/

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My emotional growth and maturity and the ecstatic response my fellow students have to seeing an Acme show in which I play a part.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Choose some plays by Christopher Marlowe ('cuz he predates Shakespeare but is way more awesome) and make the Kids' Program the crux of the entire company's agenda after removing it from the City's jurisdiction.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Getting to write and direct plays.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Friendly and outgoing, or at least, they BECAME friendly and outgoing as a result of their time in Acme.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Spread the love of theater to teenagers throughout the country and thus cut the crime rate in half.

Ways to make it better...

I had started earlier--I didn't start until 10th grade when I could have started in 9th grade.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial crises that arise through a mismanaged City bureaucracy. Unfortunately, Acme does not have its own theater, and thus needs to rent one from the City.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Acme is NOT an acronym, but I almost always write it out as "ACME" in homage to Looney Tunes and also so that when anyone who is interested in joining or signing children up for the Kids' Program asks, "What does ACME stand for?" I can reply, "Fun!"

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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