March 13, 2014
14-85

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

VSU Continues Its Theatre for Youth Tradition

The cast of the 2014 Theatre for Youth production, "Eventually ... Ever After."

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University Theatre and Dance has a long tradition of serving the children of South Georgia and North Florida by bringing live theatrical events to them. The College of the Arts has offered Theatre for Youth productions for over 30 years, and this year was no exception.

“Eventually … Ever After” kicked off Jan. 31 with a two-performance, weekend run in the VSU-based Sawyer Theatre. By early February, the dance production was on tour, performing for thousands of children in schools and art centers in Bacon, Cook, Colquitt, Crisp, Dougherty, Lowndes, and Wilcox counties. The tour came to a close this week, following two performances in Cordele on March 10 and one in Valdosta on March 12.  

“Many of us grew up dreaming of castles filled with royal courts, knights in shining armor, and frogs that magically turn into handsome princes with the touch of a kiss,” noted Sarah Wildes Arnett, assistant professor of dance at VSU who wrote, directed, and choreographed the dance production. “If you’re like me, you often yearn for the enchantment of childhood fairy tales in the clutter and monotony of everyday life. ‘Eventually … Ever After’ is a spin on some of my personal favorite tales but with a message more applicable to our youth.”

Arnett took the old, well-known tales of fate and love at first sight and turned them into tales that encourage collaboration and respect for other people’s time. She then set them to music and brought them to life through movement, including everything from ballet to hip-hip, describing the effort as a special experience.    

“VSU Theatre and Dance is a unique program that allows for young artists to explore a wide range of creative techniques,” she continued. “This production was created specifically to highlight the talents of our students and to expose the youth of our region to the beautiful language of dance.”

The goal of the university’s annual Theatre for Youth production, explained Jacque Wheeler, head of the Theatre and Dance Area and professor of theatre, is to expose children in the rural South to live theatrical performances. The touring productions are also an opportunity for VSU to share with the children the importance of post-secondary education.

“The students are excited and engaged by the performances,” she said. “We provide educational materials for pre- and post-performance activities. Many, many places ask us to return, which speaks to the popularity and educational value of the performances.”

Theatre for Youth productions are primarily geared toward boys and girls in the elementary grades, kindergarten through fifth.

“We intend to continue the long history of presenting plays for young audiences. It is a service to our region,” Wheeler shared, “and part of our commitment to outreach activities in our community. It also assists in the academic preparation of our Bachelor of Fine Arts students by offering [them] another unique performance opportunity.”

Contact Jacque Wheeler at (229) 333-5829 or jwheeler@valdosta.edu to learn more Theatre for Youth performances. Contact Sarah Wildes Arnett at (229) 333-5825 or swarnett@valdosta.edu to learn more about the 2014 touring production.