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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Los Angeles Drama Club Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Children & Youth, Performing Arts, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Los Angeles Drama Club works with youth ages 7-17 from all backgrounds and uses the exploration and performance of Shakespeare’s work to foster self-esteem, creativity, literacy and excellence in every aspect of their lives. Los Angeles Drama Club has successfully built an ongoing artistic community of children/youth who, through the creative process of “putting on a play” have found a passion, a purpose, and a safe place to express themselves and gain self-worth from their collective accomplishments. We use the diverse themes of Shakespeare, universal to the human condition, to shed light on the consequences of our choices. Our Players tell stories, decode the language, improvise, role play, and rehearse. All this culminates in a public performance. Through these practices, the students organically develop a personal relationship with the play and its characters. In this process, we build literacy, communication skills, self-esteem and a strong community spirit.

Results: We have been conducting classes and presenting Shakespeare productions for the last 10+ years. We began with 6 children in our founder’s backyard performing a choral presentation of Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, and have grown to more than 100 children per year, working in both Hollywood and West Adams. We present 4 - 6 full Shakespeare productions each year, with casts made up of our students, ages 7 to 17, as part of Shakespeare Youth Festival LA. In addition, we offer six weeks of summer day camp programming. We believe that this kind of work should be available to all young people - to that end, we do not audition, and over 70% of our students receive some sort of scholarship.

Target demographics: Children, ages 6 through 17, in the Central Los Angeles area

Direct beneficiaries per year: 125

Geographic areas served: Los Angeles - MidCity, West Adams, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Hancock Park, Larchmont, Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz

Programs: Shakespeare in the City SITC is our ongoing Performing Arts Troupe serving the West Adams/Mid-City area. Through free/low-cost classes and workshops, we nurture young performers and provide them with the space to experience the camaraderie of an arts community, the skills to meet the challenges of the creative process, and the opportunity to develop a new sense of assurance, autonomy and self-motivation. Shakespeare Youth Festival, LA Each year, in the Fall and in the Spring, Los Angeles Drama Club presents a series of plays, in repertory, to benefit our community, our children and our city. We keep our ticket prices low, so that the Festival is accessible to as many people as possible. Special performances for school groups widen our reach. We are proud to be the introduction to the Bard for many young people … and adults, as well. Willful Minors Traveling Troupe Our Shakespeare Troupe in community service, bringing the Bard to schools, events, senior care facilities, libraries, hospitals and anywhere there is a need for the Arts. Recent venues where we’ve performed include the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Central Library, Tongva Park in Santa Monica, Woodland Hills Public Library, Jefferson Park & Baldwin Hills Public Libraries, Bridge Point Senior Center and the historic Wilshire Ebell Theater. The Asylum When our Players are not rehearsing, they hone their skills and expand their horizons with classes and workshops. Special offerings include: Queen Elinor’s School of 
Knighthood & Chivalry
 Modern Chivalry – the Art of Communication and Manners, from Debating to Dining. Ethics and Values, such as integrity, courage, heroism, kindness, compassion, justice. Acting for Social Justice
 Through ancient practices and globally recognized techniques, we have fun while developing specific skills that connect us to our own Courage, then using that Courage and our True Voice to take positive actions on behalf of others and ourselves.

Community Stories

42 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both my girls had a wonderful experience with the Los Angeles Drama Club. Shakespeare was made accessible, relevant and fun for them. The teachers couldn't be more dedicated. It is a wonderful drama club and my children came back year after year for 6 years.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been coming to the LA Drama Club for 6 years and it has been wonderful. The teaching is dedicated to making Shakespeare accessible and relevant to issues of modern life. They have given my daughters a passion for reading Shakespeare that would never have happened elsewhere. The productions are innovative and themes sensitively handled so that even the younger members understand what the plays are about. The proof is in the pudding - we are still attending 6 years later! A great organization!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Los Angeles Drama Club has been a life changing experience for me. I joined when I was 8 years old and haven't stopped since. Everything the LADC does is magical, and drama club proves anyone who thinks kids cannot do Shakespeare completely wrong!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Los Angeles Drama Club has been the best arts and academic experience we could have ever wished to find for our daughter. She loves theatre and performing. She is an avid reader and loves literature. This program combines both. She has learned so much, made many friends, and found a true sense of community there. Watching their productions of Shakespeare plays is a true joy!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Drama Club has been a defining part of my life for many years, and has helped me develop my identity. It is a truly special community that offers children and teens a safe space to express themselves creatively and bond with their peers. The programs are challenging and encourage us to push ourselves, while remaining welcoming and encouraging throughout the entire experience. We explore the various texts of Shakespeare in more depth than I have ever experienced in my high school classes; Los Angeles Drama Club provides children of all ages with a profound understanding of the texts that is very rare. This is a unique group that does very important work, and I greatly appreciate everything I have gained from my time here.

Client Served

Rating: 5

LADC is a wonderful and supportive community for kids and teenagers interested in the arts.

DeAnna April G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter loves acting with this organization. It's just what she needs.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Drama Club is a wonderful unique organization. It provides Los Angles children with the opportunity to explore literature, performance and theatre in all it's glory. I have seen the children and Young people that attend LADC become confident, responsible, risk takers, willing to rise up to what ever challenge is presented to them to grow and learn. With an array of staff members who have international experiences, they provide young people with an insight that when it comes to the arts, all you need is a little bit of passion, curiosity...... it is not where you start but where you finish. The performances produced are always at a professional level, and encourage young performers to see themselves as young professionals. Your child does not have to be a child actor as such, or have been to lots of acting classes, that is irrelevant. All your child needs is to have the interest, the curiosity about words, characters, writing, theatre! Los Angeles Drama Club will identify your child's strength and harvest this to get the best out of them....and more! It is an organization that is at the forefront of community, education and outreach work in Los Angeles.....and America!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The first time I took my three boys to see a Shakespeare production at Los Angeles Drama Club, I was blown away. I couldn't believe I was watching a cast made up only of children doing a full length Shakespeare production. Then after the bows, Blaire and Julia spoke about their organization and said that any child is welcome and that they don't audition. I was amazed.

I signed up my two older boys, 7 and 9 at the time. My oldest was very shy and very imaginative, but would rarely speak up in big groups. That first production Blaire, Julia and the other directors all worked with him to use his voice and be heard. It worked. Now four years later he is the young actor they turn to for broad comedic parts. He also speaks up clearly and with confidence in his regular life. I am forever grateful to LADC for being such an important part of my son's growth.

Now I have all three of my sons involved in their productions. It is a sight to see Shakespearean phrases tumble out of their mouths. It's also great for them to have them work hard towards a future goal and enjoy the pride of being part of a great play.

Los Angeles Drama Club should receive any help possible. They give scholarships to anyone who needs it and serve the children who participate in too many ways to count.

I am so grateful that LADC exists.

Best,
Jennifer Courtney

Donor

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Drama Club is making Shakespeare relatable for kids of all ages. At the time when middle schools think Shakespeare is too difficult, LADC takes kids as little as 5 and gives them the real lines which they understand and recite from stage. No auditions, everyone is welcome; they'll bring out the actor in every child. The teenage group productions are simply stunning in their raw energy and dedication of the players. They’re better than some adult theaters. The teachers have high expectations and the kids always come through, performing entire Shakespeare plays without shortcuts. It’s an environment of mutual respect, shared passion for theater and a great educational opportunity for many children who are not getting this level of art instruction at their schools. LADC is a treasure!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been with Los Angeles Drama Club for 3 years . She started when she was 9 years old, She is 12 now, and she loves it. I cannot be more grateful for this program and what it has done for my daughter. Her confidence level has improved dramatically since she started 3 years ago. LADC is a fine program and a healthy environment for kids. The teachers truly love what they do and they really care about the kids.

1 Chokae' K.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having attend my fair share of Children's Theater over the years,
I'm all too familiar with locating the nearest exit before the lights go down,
should a lousy performance deem in necessary to slip out unnoticed
to avoid the inevitable after-show "So, how did you like it" from directors and parents
who put way too much stock in Cute and Adorable rather than Talent and Rehearsal.

Then I saw the Los Angeles Drama Club production of Richard III.
I was stunned to the core - In a better than good way.
So much so that I stayed for the next performance of Two Gentleman of Verona!

These kids Rock!
This has to be seen to fully appreciate the time, effort, and love
that has gone into creating such a magical experience!

1 Myshell T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Drama Club continues to help our child thrive in Language Arts. She is able to explicate literature far beyond grade level. When speaking to both peers and adults, she is confident and poised.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter always has always had an affinity for literature. She loves to read, tell stories, and perform dinner theater for the family. This coupled with the fact that she has been begging to act since age three had me scrambling to find an acting class for her.

When we discovered Shakespeare in the City at the William Grant Still Art Center, I knew I had to get her into the program. We are a low-middle class family, and there isn't a lot of support when you're in the middle. The fact that the classes were free allowed my daughter to experience this life-changing program while we focused on keeping the lights on at home.

Since transitioning to the Los Angeles Drama Club, my nine-year-old has performed on stage with Keith David, held three roles in Macbeth with the teenagers (at age 8), and carried the starring role in Pericles (age 9). The performance opportunities aren't all Los Angeles Drama Club has to offer. My child is now able to explicate literature well beyond her age. She really knows what she's talking about!

When I think of a lot of free programs in the city, poor quality instruction and abuse come to mind. At Los Angeles Drama Club, I never worry that my daughter is being mistreated or yelled at. On the contrary, her spirit is nurtured. She learns mantras, yoga poses, movement for actors, and how to center herself so that she performs well not just on stage but in life.

1 Daryl B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Drama Club has been a constant, shining light in our lives since our daughter joined seven years ago. Its vibrant founders continue to lead the way in Los Angeles by bringing Shakespeare to neighborhoods where arts funding is practically absent. Their Shakespeare in the City program has cultivated an amazing community of passionate students whose talent and brilliance have awakened the Mid-City area!! My children will forever be indebted to LADC for all they have learned about history, language, and story structure – more than any school curriculum could have provided. They have found discipline and self-confidence through intense rehearsals and performances. This has been such an exponentially positive experience for them and LADC students pay it forward every day, whether it’s their ability to work collaboratively, embrace individuality, be articulate and expressive and empathetic towards others. In a city like Los Angeles, every child needs an outlet, be it sports or the arts. We should all be so grateful to LADC to help our youngest citizens find authenticity, happiness and confidence through Shakespeare. Viva LADC!

Previous Stories
2

Board Member

Rating: 5

LOVE this organization -- it has made a deep and profound impact on our children's lives. They will forever be indebted to LADC for all the wonderful experiences and positive memories! They have learned more about history, language, dramatic narrative and structure than in any school curriculum. The intense rehearsals and performance have taught them commitment, courage and integrity! Viva Shakespeare!

1 Blaire B.

Board Member

Rating: 5

We are very moved by the support we have had over the past year - PBS voted us Community Champions of 2014 and aired a mini-documentary on what we are doing in Mid-City, an underserved pocket of Los Angeles. Our free Shakespeare programs continue to grow in the community.

In 2014 we put on a total of 18 shows and recitals - year round - many were free for the public.

SHOWTIME has stepped up to sponsor our Fundraiser in Mid-City this year. Fourteen distinguished actors are showing up for our children and performing Shakespeare scenes with us in "A Mid-City Nights Dream" on November 9th.

And we continue to grow and thrive in two neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Art Saves Lives!
www.losangelesdramaclub.com

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a part of Los Angeles Drama Club for six years. That is nearly half of my life. It is a very rare thing to find a seven year old that can recite and confidently explain complex works of Shakespeare, and even rarer to find an entire group of them. I am so amazingly proud to have been part of those few Shakespeare-spouting first graders, thanks to this extraordinary program. Drama Club taught me about William Shakespeare and his works, but it also taught me about teamwork, patience, leadership, tolerance, confidence, and responsibility. Everyday with the instructors and the other students taught me more and more about myself, and as a person who will be a freshman in high school this August, I can confidently say that this experience prepared me for life. Having such a background in interpreting Shakespeare has put me ahead in school and made me a more astute student. Also, the lessons in Shakespeare's work that the LADC has helped me to discover have stayed with me to this very day. I will never forget the cost of revenge, the desire to rebel, the longing to be loved, or the struggle that one in a position of power must face. These lessons have empowered me in my life to feel that not only can I do anything I want if I put my mind to it, but that I CAN change the world, and that I WILL succeed!
Over the summer, I was able to go back to LADC and volunteer with their Shakespeare In The City Program, giving children from all over Los Angeles the same life-changing experience that I was fortunate enough to receive. The impact that one week of Shakespeare can have on a child is unimaginable and inspiring. The work that Blaire, and everyone else affiliated with program, is doing is beyond incredible, and I could not ask for a better gift than the ability to work with kids who taught me just as much as I was able to teach them.
In my entire life so far, I have never been in a place where I feel as appreciated, loved, and safe as I do within the walls of the Lost Studio. This experience changed my life and made me the person I am today. For that, I can never thank them enough.

2 Marten W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with the kids at Los Angeles drama club has been an incredibly rewarding and meaningful experience. I worked with children from Hancock Park and with the inner city schoolchildren in Shakespeare In The City. I have seen first hand how much this program has helped the shy find confidence, the inexperienced find learning and powerful knowledge, and best of all they all learned to love great literature and have their passions inspired in a creative, loving, and supportive environment.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with this organization for almost two and a half years now and could never have even begun to guess what a huge impact this small, but immensely influential club could have on the kids. Especially with the Shakespeare in the City program, but also in all programs, the kids gain a confidence and power to make themselves heard. They transform from believing that their thoughts and feelings and even their very being are inconsequential to understanding the huge significance of their human life. This hiding person is unlocked through the emotions of characters and eventually of the kids' own repressed ones, as they learn to harness these powerful sentiments and proceed to use them productively as the succeed in creating art. Come to any show and this will be evident to you and every member of the audience.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Over the past few weeks I have been an associate for LADC shakespeare in the city and their summer shakespeare intensive. All of the teen teachers have been given a lot of freedom and were allowed to direct a scene on our own. I have had an amazing time getting to meet new kids. I think that even though the class is only a week, all of the kids have bonded and had a great time. I have been in multiple drama club plays, so being on the other end directing has been a fantastic experience. I always have an amazing time with the drama club and will continue to be part of LADC as a member and a volunteer.

Previous Stories
3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I joined the Los Angeles drama club in 2008 at age 7 or 8 and now I'm 13. I have been in 7 shakespeare plays. If you ask me what the drama club is to me, i would respond that the Los Angeles drama club is my life. I have an obsession with shakespeare because of the drama club. I don't know where I would be without ladc. I have made so many great friends and had great experiences. It is so important in my opinion for children (and others of any age) to experience shakespeare. Being part of the Los Angeles drama club is a privilege and honor. I love the drama club with all my heart. "The play's the thing"

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer with the Los Angeles Drama Club this summer, and was immediately put to work directing scenes and working with the kids. Not only did I serve as a guide and reference for them, but I had the opportunity to play along side them and experience their growth first hand. Whether it be at the Shakespeare intensive or at Shakespeare in the city, experiencing the kids' gradual understanding and excitement regarding Shakespeare and performance is one of the most rewarding experiences I've yet to have. I strongly believe that LADC gives it's volunteers not only a chance to explore working with kids and the responsibilities and challenges that come with it, but also a mutual respect and exchange of knowledge among its teachers and students. I am consistently in awe of what we accomplish day by day, and how impactful the art of Shakespeare can be at such a young age.

Alyssa O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with the LADC has been such a special opportunity. As a college student interested in theatre, it is so refreshing to be around such motivated and energized students who are eager to perform. The potential of these kids is inspiring--they, without inhibition, pick up Shakespeare scenes and fully delve into their characters growing immensely by the end of their programs. LADC combines Yoga, Improv Games, and Scene Study as well as bringing in visiting artists and coaches to allow the kids the chance to reach their full potential.

Shakespeare in the City, the free Shakespeare program for at-risk children, proves the power of Shakespeare's words. These kids completely take over and make the words their own, giving so much to the opportunity they are given to freely express themselves in a safe place (on the stage) when perhaps they are not always given this opportunity at home.

The program is co-run by two incredible teachers who really have a grasp on how to work with these kids. The volunteer experience has brought new insight into my life as the kids have been an inspiration to my own personal theatrical pursuits as well as reminding me to always maintain the playfulness of a child.

Frank21

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What could be more productive than helping shape the talents and abilities of young people. Way to go LADC You are making a difference.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

L.A. Drama Club is an extraordinary organization that introduces kids to Shakespeare, not by dumbing it down or "kid-ifying" it but by actually teaching the young actors to understand and interpret the text. They produce full-length productions of Shakespeare's plays, giving the young ensemble members a priceless entree into challenging dramatic literature. The kids are up to the task, learning and performing the plays on stage in front of an audience. There couldn't be a better beginning to an English lit or theatre education.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a fantastic organization providing a fun and extremely valuable service to the community... and the shows are a wonderful site to see!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My 13 year-old daughter and her friends have been involved with LADC for many years. In fact she was involved with the people who started LADC before the group itself existed. If all LADC had done is introduce her to the world of Shakespeare that would be enough, since great literature is now ingrained in her life and will be forever. LADC also opened her up to the world of acting, an interest she intends to pursue throughout her life, or so she now says. And in doing the plays she has learned to work with her peers toward a shared goal in a way that I assume others do through organized sports. While I cannot always pinpoint the exact ways LADC has made my daughter a better person, I have no doubt that it has had that effect and feel fortunate that she is a part of LADC.

Ellen41

Client Served

Rating: 5

Both of my sons have been involved with LA Drama Club since they were young (7 ish). What astounds me about my own children is not only that they can memorize such a large body of lines, but more importantly they understand what they are saying. They are taught text, culture and history prior to beginning work on a piece, so the children come to it with awareness of the environment and comprehension of what can be very challenging text even for an adult.

I saw the most recent plays performed by 11-14 year olds, most of whom had been with LADC since they were small. These kids connected with each other as actors and their characters, had poise and confidence and were able to convey the meanings of the dense, layered text. I was very moved by them all and very impressed by how they have grown by being members of LADC.

The program has done wonderful things or my boys but ,more importantly has done fantastic things for the community as a whole. Their outreach is fantastic - encouraging kids from all over LA to share in the LADC experience. It is astounding what the directors are capable of - truly astounding. I am grateful that in a city that is so geared toward film and television that we have been able to find quality drama classes for our children.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Both of my daughter's have been involved with LADC since they were very young. I have watched this company grow and expand and bring so much to so many children. They have fostered talent, imbued confidence, created a safe world in which to grow, demonstrated a moral construct and an innate sense of right and wrong in a wonderfully supportive environment. These children not only learn Shakespeare, but they also learn how to learn. They are shown how to express their feelings, how to aim for the stars, how to live in a community and how to foster respect for others. I cannot express how much LADC has been involved in shaping our lives for the better and now that my eldest daughter is a trainee coach for the Shakespeare in the City group, it fills me with pride to watch these lessons being passed on to the greater community, a community that might not otherwise be able to access a class where the teachers and the students work together to bring magic and meaning to their world.

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Los Angeles Drama club is a wonderful organization. You can see the impact that it has on the youth simply by witnessing a rehearsal, workshop, or performance. Bringing Shakespeare to Los Angeles youth is not only great for the children, it's great for Los Angeles and our arts community. This is a professional and passionate project of the heart that deserves your support.

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been continuously fascinated with the powerful impact performing Shakespheare has on children - of diverse backgrounds and ages. This language that I stumbled through to comprehend in high school is unfolding to these kids with ease, and they are growing and blossoming as actors and as individuals. This is a very special program, that's making a difference in our community!!

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a stage technician - I volunteer for the Los Angeles Drama Club for their Shakespeare Youth Festival LA Season. I have never seen children so happy about being together, and being in a show. The organization has created a second family for many many kids. I am honored to be a part of the Country's youngest Shakespeare troupe and to be their scenic and techinical advisor. Dante Larsen

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My name is Gilda Barnes. I am 11 years old and I have been acting at La drama club for about a year now. It has not been a long time but I have learned so much from the acting coaches, teachers, piers, etc. Everyone there has helped me grow more as a rising actress and caring and responsible human being. They push me to be the best and support me every chance they get. It is not only an acting class where i can do what I love to do, but a second home for me where i feel a separate kind of love and support. Everyone there has opened my eyes to what you can be and how to be it. I especially appreciate the other cast members for all there help and support. THANK YOU LA DRAMA CLUB! THE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN LIFE CHANGING!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was so blown away by the high production value and obvious talent from the cast. When I was 11 I could hardly memorize "O'Captain, My Captain," and these middle schoolers were able to flawlessly execute their roles and the Shakespearean lines. They almost sounded more comfortable doing so than Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Romeo + Juliet." These tweens were also able to play various parts, some up to 7. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, forgetting that the players were children, as an amazing production overall, and I am very excited to see more.

Of note: The Nurse, Mercutio, Juliet.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I used to think Shakespeare was stupid until I joined LA Drama Club, and they opened my eyes to the wonder of one of the most talented playwrites in history. Never before did I imagine that I would find so much joy in performing shakespeare, and from being around other people who share my love. The people are so nice, caring, passionate; all there fabulousness rubs off on anyone in there presence. Now that I've done 6 plays with the troupe I really feel like the theatre has become a second home and that the people have become my second family.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I started Los Angeles Drama Club when I was seven years old, and I am now 13. Through the LADC, I have learned a lot about Shakespeare's plays and the world of Shakespeare, I have learned a lot about myself, working with others, performing, and acting. I have grown a lot as an actor, performer, and person through this organization. I have made so many friends and have learned so much. The LADC has changed my life for the better, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to act, have fun, learn, and enrich their lives.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been a part of this non-profit organization since I was 7, which is now coming up on seven years. I followed in my brother's footsteps as he was a member before I was, and, may I say, the experience that I've had here has changed my life forever. The friends I've made and the experience that I've had has changed my major life decisions for the better, and looking back on my experience, my vocabulary has far increased and my knowledge of Shakespeare far surpasses the majority of my peers. I would highly recommend being a part of this non-profit organization if you care about the increasing of knowledge in children, and the making of in breakable friendships both onstage and off. The Los Angeles Drama Club is both the nation's youngest Shakespeare troupe and, in my experience, the world's best Shakespeare troupe for young people.

3 Stewart S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been a part of this organization since I was four and a half, and I have never once doubted that it has been beneficial to my character and to my personality. And now, ten years later, I am still an active participant, with a proud interest in the arts as well as a number of strong friendships by the bond of mutual participation. I highly reccomend this program to any child looking to achieve a higher understanding of our most famous stories, with plenty of fun along the way.