I have been involved with Schenectady Theatre for Children in many roles. My first encounter came when I was a primary grade teacher at a local elementary school. The Schenectady Theatre for Children came to perform a musical play at our school every year. The children in my class were enthralled by their shows and always learned something new. You see, the STC plays not only tell a wonderful story that often transports the children to another time, place and culture, they also expand vocabulary, pose ethical questions and encourage the children to think. Each teacher has access to a study guide that suggests further learning activities and tie those activities to the curriculum. When I retired 6 years later, I was delighted to be able to volunteer with the theatre. Quite frankly, I never imagined that I would find something that I enjoyed as much as teaching but this was it! The wonderful people at STC taught me about producing quality children's theater while teaching me and helping me grow as an actor. While I was just a volunteer, I always felt that I was "paid" with the laughter and joyful faces of the children in the schools, libraries and centers that we served. It truly became a very bright spot in my life. And now I am also a board member. I am seeing how important donations are to keep the cost of the shows accessible to the schools that have experienced so many budget cuts over the past few years. Children truly need the arts and STC does a great job of bringing them to many children through the plays, summer camp and the Great Minds series. It educates and brightens the lives of not only the children it serves but also the many wonderful people who volunteer. And so as a volunteer, board member, former client served and member of the general public, I wholeheartedly endorse the work Schenectady Theatre for Children!
At the lowest point of the economy, I was a young 20 some thing looking for any work that I could find. I applied to be the director of summer youth program's production of "The Reluctant Dragon." The best part about about the program is that children get a chance to work along side theater professionals. Not only are the children building confidence and public speaking on stage, but they are learning behind the scene tech skills. There's nothing like seeing groups of 9 year olds sewing their own costume pieces!
Schenectady Theatre for Children (STC) has brought live theatre to children in the capital district for over 40 years; in many cases STC is their first experience with live performance. Each year STC presents an original musical play based on fables or folk lore and written to include values such as truth and honesty, and an appreciation for cultural diversity. Each production is researched for historical accuracy and authentic costuming for the period and location. Four years ago, I brought my granddaughter to a production at our library and watched a whole new world open up to her. I decided then that STC deserved my support as a volunteer. My granddaughter still talks about the children’s productions she has seen each year and sings the songs. I appreciate the knowledge she has gained about the cultures of places such as Mexico, Holland, and Ancient Rome, while being entertained with delightful songs, dances and folk lore. Each production is offered to area schools and youth organizations at a fee to defray expenses only. STC sends advance materials to help prepare their audience and stimulate questions during a post show exchange with the cast. STC has made a huge difference in our community. I am proud to volunteer for this group!
My teenager has been involved with their summer camp programs and year round productions and loves it! She has learned so much and has been able to learn how to work backstage and on stage as well. The team is supportive and excited and encouraging to all of the crew members and put on wonderful productions for children (and adults love it too!)
I've been volunteering as sound technician for three years. I've been impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the cast and crew members. It's fun to watch the play come to life as the director and cast bring the script alive. We're fortunate to have a talented local woman, the award-winnning Kit Goldstein, writing musicals for us. The children before whom we perform are drawn into the play, and interact with the actors. For many this is their first experience of live theater, and it is first rate. The Schenectady Theater for Children touches lives throughout the Capital area, including the theater summer camp, the Great Minds performances, and other productions. Coming next spring we are adding a new program: "My First Theater" for younger children, which will invite them into the world of theater. STC is unique because it goes to the schools and libraries, where the children are, rather than making the children come to them, and more youngsters are exposed to their warm, funny, musical, and enduring dramas.
I have been involved with the Schenectady Theatre for Children (STC) for the past 6 years and can vouch for the wonderful role they play in the community bringing theatre into the schools. For more than 40 years, the members of STC have been bringing indescribable joy to school chldren throughout the New York Capital District area through their plays. For one hour the children become personally involved in a play but the good memories last for the rest of the year and introduce them to ideas they may never otherwise have encountered in their daily lives. The plays produced by STC are not only extremely entertaining but teach the children about history, geography, different cultures and languages, the nature of personal relationships and the importance of maintaining honesty, compassion and good character. Many of the plays are written by local Kit Goldstein, a brilliant young playright with an innate sense of what children like and respond to and who produces musicals that please adults as well as the children. In addition to producing the plays they bring to the schools, they run summer acting camps, produce the Great Minds series (an engaging and informative series of one man/woman shows presenting the lives and ideas of famous people), teach children how to make puppets or perform magic. Without a doubt, the New York Capital District is greatly enriched by the presence of STC.
Since graduating with a degree in elementary education & a minor in speech and theater, for years I have been active in community theaters in the area and have always felt most drawn to those organizations which offered programming for children. There is nothing like playing an evil queen to a delighted audience that truly believes there is a world on that stage inhabited by the actors they see. Imagine my joy when I first found The Schenectady Theatre for Children, a group of wonderful adult volunteers who focus all their efforts on children! In the past few years with them (now thought of as "us") I have met the most amazingly dedicated and delightful individuals who generously share their many talents with thousands of children in the area. Children, many of whom would never see a live performance otherwise. Children who learn a lesson (teachers are offered a study guide) while their hearts are laughing and singing. Schenectady Theatre for Children encourages children to participate in the arts in every way possible. Our motto: The less a child is exposed to the arts, the more it shows!
The Schenectady Theater for Children brings live theater to 3000-5000 children a year. This will be the only chance many of the children have to experience live performances. I crew for the Theater so I do not get to see the smiles until the end of the show. I do, however, get to hear the laughter and the innocent quips the children yell out. It so rewarding to hear a child call out to an actor where some one is hiding or to give something back that doesn't belong to him. You feel that a message might be getting through to them as they are being entertained. It is wonderful to see them lose themselves in fantasy even if it is only for an hour. This is particularly rewarding because many of these children are part of low income families and many times do not have the opportunity to be a child. As money dries up every where, schools have less and less money to spend on "extras". We are continually trying to find ways to raise money so that we many continue to bring this sense of wonder to so many children.
I’ve been thinking about all the choices we have to make every single day of our lives.....there are those big choices like college, career, marriage, having children, things that you know from the get go will affect you life….but then there’s those tiny choices that we make…like a friend we might choose when we are young who might influence us even for the rest of our life.
Once in 1980 I made a choice that changed my life totally. I was asked to choose a community group in Schenectady, research it, and report back on it at a meeting the following month in someone’s home. So out of a list of about 30 organizations to choose from, I happened to pick the Schenectady Theater for Children. It was really such a small thing that I did… choosing an item from a list….but ….. aside from getting married and having children, that decision to choose STC over another community group to report on turned into the biggest life changing event in my life.
How can you go wrong giving your time to an organization that makes 10,000 children a year laugh for an hour?
How can you go wrong working with selfless folks who don’t mind volunteering countless hours to make that happen?
How can you go wrong when what you do makes you laugh too?
And how can you go wrong when what you do makes you a better person?
When you feel something is so worthwhile, you start putting more of your energy into it, it starts giving back to you, you respond by putting more of yourself in to it. It starts to grow, you notice more folks start feeling the same way you do, more energy goes in, now something wonderful starts coming out, so more energy gets put back in. It starts to grow, it gets bigger and bigger every year….it changes, there are some tough times, but so what, it gets even better… And it makes you proud to be a part of it all.
It’s funny because at the rough times, you say, “How can I leave it now that things are bad? We have to fix it.” Then when it’s all fixed and things are good, you say, “How can I leave it now? Things are great and we’re having the time of our lives?”
Once in a great while though something else can happen in our life ….it appears that there’s another decision to be made, and another choice to take…but there’s really no decision, and no choice….It’s something you have to do.
So here I am….a couple thousand miles away. I’m still a happy person, and I think of The Schenectady Theater for Children every day. STC will always be in my heart…I will always refer to STC as “Us” and “We”.
STC has given more back to me than I have ever put into it. It made me grow artistically and professionally, and gave me the finest friends I ever could have asked for.
I will miss it forever.