DID YOU KNOW?
To understand how Be Theatre youth programming has developed over the past 6 years, it is important to know our background... which goes back 13 years!
Did you know Be Theatre was actually founded with a mission for education in youth theatre? Our first tagline for our theatre was "Be Theatre Company: Be Educated. Be Enlightened. Be Empowered." (Pictured above from our launch campaign in 2011.) Since then, we have grown and changed to include full performance seasons, giving youth and adults in our community opportunities to experience theatre on stage as an actor, assisting on the crew, assisting in outreach, or simply enjoying a show as a patron.
THE FOUNDATION OF BE THEATRE YOUTH- HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In the fall of 2004, Elena Kent began teaching youth acting classes at Angelo Civic Theatre under the Executive Director leadership of Lisa Roberts. The program expanded in the fall of 2005 to include a "Youth Performance Workshop" culminating in a spring 2006 production titled Children's Letters to God. The show was presented in partnership with San Angelo Standard Times, who featured letters written by children in the community with "Dear God" questions exploring faith and core Christian values. After a successful weekend of performances, Lisa and Elena knew they were embarking on something special with community youth.
Above: Children's Letters to God, 2005 Directed by Elena Kent and Jane Lewis
Following the first 2006 production, the youth programming continued for 5 more years with 5 mainstage productions filling the house year after year, often involving partnerships with San Angelo Civic Ballet and grants from local and national funding. The programming was developed and led by Elena Kent, as well as Jane Lewis who led the music direction for all 6 Youth Performance Workshop productions. From 2004 to 2011, the focus on youth continued to grow with other leaders in the community involved in the development of the Youth Performance Workshop including (but not limited to): Brian Jones, Sarah Marie Curry, Suzy Roberts, Jody Waters, Elizabeth O'Briant, Genna Faia, Ron Morse and Taylor Novak.
BE THEATRE YOUTH TAKES SHAPE
In April 2011, Mrs. Kent departed ACT. At the time, the theatre was undergoing different executive leadership and vision than that of current ACT theatre programming, which is currently vibrant and thriving. (In fact, we often have creative artists working together within the different theatre organizations.) In July of 2011, the timing was right for Elena to continue her passion for youth education as she and many close friends began Be Theatre Company (which has since changed to simply "Be Theatre"). Be Theatre operated in half of a downtown space we shared with a local piano teacher, but we had no performance stage. Be Theatre's mission was primarily education, serving young people in the community who were deeply involved with the"Youth Performance Workshop" from 2004 to 2011 with Elena and Jane. The first performance at Be Theatre Company was The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood, held in January of 2012 at Central High School showcasing 24 local youth ages 8-18 years old.
The cast of "Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood" in 2012
A Workshop at Be Theatre in 2012 when we shared our space with Linton Music Studio.
Over the next 22 months, Be Theatre served young actors continuing with youth education as the YPW (Youth Performance Workshop) bringing Godspell, Jr. and Pippi Longstocking to the stage at various locations throughout San Angelo. Each show consisted of about 25 students and stayed within the mission of Be Theatre to focus on the process of theatre in an intimate setting with a small teacher/student ratio. In addition, Be Theatre began bringing small adult productions to San Angelo with shows such as [title of show] and The 39 Steps.
In 2013, we acquired the entire building at 19 West Beauregard. Be Theatre expanded and included a small black box performance theatre in addition to the youth education program. With the new space, Be Theatre was able to bring a full season of youth and adult productions to the stage, adding to the already strong foundation which began as a seed from the Youth Performance Workshop that had started to take shape in 2004.
2013-PRESENT: HOW WE'VE EVOLVED
The beautiful thing about life and creativity is the ability to keep growing and changing. Not necessarily in numbers, but to keep changing programming to meet the needs of students and families involved. In 2014 we produced Grease: School Edition and rented the stage of Angelo Civic Theatre to produce the musical. In addition, Suzy and Caity Roberts stepped in and began to truly cultivate our theatre programming to fill a need for small classes and showase performances focusing on original shows, and sometimes orginal pieces by the students themselves. Buddy Smith joined our team in 2016 and has been an asset in developing the youngest little actors in the program ages K-2nd grade.
At Be Theatre, we do not believe in putting ourselves in a box, so-to-speak. Instead, we create our programming semester by semester based on what our students would like to see happening. Our mission fits best in our small space with a max enrollment of 15-20 for our 3rd-12th grade students, and just 10 per class for our K-2nd grade students. We work with approximately 30-40 kids per semester, which is a nice fit for many students who have anxiety about big groups or just enjoy the small classes. San Angelo is rich in the arts and there are many opporutnities for youth in performing arts through other theatre companies as well as through classical and contemporary dance. We enjoy being a part of the magic and will continue to offer small classes based on the needs of the commuinty.
BONUS! Sometimes, as with our recent production of Gypsy, we will bring a very large scale production to life and there will be some fabulous roles for our young talent! We enjoy the opportunity to feed our creative souls with all kinds of theatre in San Angelo!
This fall, we will bring a small scale musical into our space with a Youth Performance Workshop that will culminate in a performance in November 2017. We will be releasing the title very soon so stay tuned! Auditions for the YPW will be in late August.
We have grown immensely as a theatre both with performance opportunies for adults and children, outreach and most importantly with our non-profit status. However, through all the changes, our mission has remained virtually the same since 2011 with small changes to accomodate our growing mission, the community and our families. You can read it here.
To see our next season and find out about our outreach performances for kids with our annual Literature Alive program, please click the links below!