As an Acme member from the summer of 2001 through the summer of 2005, I cannot imagine a better recipient for grant funding than Acme Theatre Company. Acme is a passionate proponent for youth empowerment, for taking pride in one’s work, for individual and group responsibility, and for dynamic teamwork; and it works constantly to give its members the tools and the space necessary to find and use these qualities and skills. The company’s efforts allowed me to grow from a small, enthusiastic but clueless newbie, into a confident young woman capable of tackling innumerable problems and of taking on leadership roles without hesitation. For my experience, and for those of the Acme alumni that I have seen come before and after me, I highly recommend Acme Theatre Company for this grant.
Acme’s brand of empowerment stems from its model of operation, of which it is fiercely proud. This model keeps adults out of the process as much as possible, which means that company leaders aged 13 to 18 are almost entirely responsible for Acme’s elements of production, from the first design discussions through the last touch of paint. In the middle the youth leaders manage all of the personnel, budgeting, transportation, and execution necessary to make the production elements a reality.
The evidence of this model at work was one of the things that impressed me most when I joined the company. The sense of responsibility and control that emanated from the company leaders, no more than five years older myself, had me determined to do whatever it took to put myself at the heart of this amazing organization. And I wasn’t the only one. The number of youth who I have seen stumble into the company as unfocused teens overburdened by hurt or low self-esteem, but who stick around to become amazing, outspoken, talented leaders in their own right would knock your socks off. Acme Theatre Company is a true gift to the Davis community: a unique and shining example of what it looks like to support our young people in a way that is beneficial to the maximum degree.
One of the biggest factors that keeps the company members working through long nights and nearly all school vacations is the pride that Acme takes in its work. Acme strives to produce genuinely high-quality theatre, and has demonstrated acting, directing, and production design of a caliber to rival many professional theatres.
During my time in Acme, my fellow company members and I would go to incredible lengths, both in order to avoid failure and to produce progressively more impressive outcomes. We felt that we owed it to the company to produce the kind of work that reflected its wonderfulness. This motivation inspired us to spend our high school lunch periods writing press releases, our weekends sewing dozens of period shirts, and our evenings designing sets or lighting plots, in addition to completing our homework and work for our other extra curricular activities. My cohorts and I would work tirelessly in order to be ready for opening night, because the show would always go up, but it was up to us to make sure that it was the kind of show that we could proudly call one of Acme’s.
Intrinsically tied to Acme’s pride in its work is a heavy emphasis on both personal and group responsibility. One of the most noticeable outcomes of removing adults from much of Acme’s theatrical process is that there comes a moment with every new group of Acme leaders when they realize that they’re the only people in a room brimming with a belief in explosive potential, and they commit to making those expectations into fantastic realities. Through this explosive energy I learned to build sets, sew costumes, hang and focus lights, perform on stage with confidence, organize fund raisers, lead groups of people, run meetings, and budget my time, among other skills. I learned to do all of these things because I had to, and I got good at them because I wanted to serve my peers and my company well.
Acme provides the motivation, training, and space necessary to allow its participants to take on responsibility for a variety of projects within a context that is real. It does this by placing a premium on youth empowerment above all, but also on striving for a high-quality product, and on emphasizing teamwork within the context of mutual responsibility. Acme is a true gift, even before taking into account that membership is absolutely free, and its only barrier to entry is a willingness to work. I emphatically suggest that our community honor this gift by supporting Acme Theatre Company with funding, and with production attendance.
Thank you for your time,
Acme Alumna 2005