The take-your-parent-to-a-show project

Arts / Article

By Neil Thackaberry, Actors’ Summit

Things are moving fast at Actors’ Summit with our “Take-your-parent-to-a-show!” PROJECT.  With the support of Knight Foundation we’re developing a whole new set of contacts with area schools, and, hopefully, a theater audience for the future. The program provides free tickets to parents when their son or daughter brings them to the theater. We hope that by reversing the traditional relationship we’ll be able to foster a sense of ownership of the experience by the student.

Reaching the schools in our community is a real challenge.  Budget cutbacks have reduced or elliminated money for field trips.  Teachers facing larger classes and frequent state testing have less time to plan events that don’t fit into the lesson plans they developed last year or the year before. We know that sending out emails and fliers is not enough.  In order to gain as much involvement as possible, we’ve used a portion of the Knight Foundation grant to hire an education outreach specialist.

Aubrey Caldwell is an adjunct faculty member at The University of Akron, Aubrey earned her BA in Theatre from Ashland University and her MFA in Acting from the Asolo Conservatory, Florida State University.  She is also a member of our acting company and is a member of Actors’ Equity.  Her extensive contacts in the community (she also works with Weathervane Community Playhouse) have allowed her to quickly make inroads into the secondary school community.  Through phone calls to individual principals and teachers, emails, and personal visits she is beginning to establish relationships between the theater and school districts throughout the region.

We’ve been able to schedule a special school day matinee of Woody Guthrie’s American Song (sold out), distribute “Take-your-parent-to-a-show!” PROJECT fliers directly into teacher’s school mail boxes, and schedule pre and post show school visits by actors and directors.

Thanks to Knight Foundation, we’re introducing a whole new group of students and teachers to the fun of professional live theater.