March 31, 2012
I am now retired as the Founding Artistic Director of Acme Theatre Company. From the moment that a group of high school students gathered with me in my classroom to talk about founding a theatre company, there has always been one important goal: to empower youth through doing theatre together. For more than thirty years, this unique organization has served thousands of young people, giving them confidence through performing all the necessary tasks to take a full-scale theatre production from conception to production. Moreover, the company has had a long commitment to producing works by important playwrights from the Greeks to Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde to Bertolt Brecht toArthur Miller to moder playwrights such as Mary Zimmerman, Arthur Giron, Moises Kaufman, Sarah Ruhl, and Stephen Deitz. Every task, from acting to set construction to costuming to publicity, to front of the house activities are performed by young people of high school age. The older, more experienced members mentor the younger members so that the institutional memory is passed down from year to year and from decade to decade. The only adults involved are the non-profit board of directors, the artistic director, and the director of the production. Occasionally adult mentors, many of them graduates of the company, will provide instruction in such things as set and costume construction, playwriting, fight and dance choreography and so forth. It is also important to note that Acme has a history of producing high quality theatre, comparable to that of adult community and professional theatre. This is an organization run both for and by young people, my idea of a perfect youth empowerment model. If you read by through the reviews of the young people themselves, you will find that there is another aspect that is very important. For many of them, Acme provided a place where they could meet and come to know people with like interests. Many of the alumni will tell you that their Acme experience was the most important formative experience of their high school career, and this from young people who attended one of the top-rated high schools in California. Finally, Acme alumni are making their mark in many fields, and only of few of those are fields related to theatre. We do have our theatrical success stories: a member of the Blue Man Group, an award-winning playwright and director, the founder of the San Francisco Sketch Fest, a television producer and former executive vice president at Disney Pictures, a professional fight choreographer in New York, and so forth. However, in other fields, there are equally successful Acme alumni, who give great credit to the self-confidence that their experience with the company built in them. Among these are a Legislative Director with the California State Legislature, a Vice-President of Energy Solutions, a sustainable energy consulting firm, The Special Projects Manager at American Museum of Natural History, a free-lance designer of Museum exhibits around the world, the co-founder of several health/medical companies, a published children's book author, and many doctors, teachers, lawyers, business people, and so forth. Add to that that many of our alumni are building happy families with young children, some of them now in Acme, and you have a youth-empowerment organization with history and longevity that continues to make a mark on our community and on the world. I am indeed proud to have been a part of Acme Theatre Company.
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MY ROLE:Board Member