Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 24, 2013

Volunteer theater group to perform around region

Carrie Stambaugh
CNHI News Service

ASHLAND — A fledgling adult volunteer theater troupe is bringing performance art to children throughout the region.

Actors for Children’s Theatre, or ACT, will begin performing “A Thousand Cranes,” this week for schools and youth organizations. It is the second production the organization has produced and will be followed by a spring 2014 production of “A Gift-Bear for the King.”

The cast of actors volunteer their time and talents in an effort to expose as many children as possible to the fine arts, said ACT member and actor Sarah Diamond-Burroway. “We are big people doing theater for little people,” said Diamond-Burroway.

Anne Stephens, fine arts extension agent with the Greenup County University of Kentucky Extension Service, said the organization has been well received so far. Stephens works with the charity, part of the Rivertown Performing Arts League, to help it secure rehearsal space, book shows and network.

“Schools are very appreciative of what they are offering,” Stephens said. “It seems like what is happening in our schools, that budgets are tight for everything and it is hard for schools to be able to support very many field trips. It is an easier sell if we bring it to them,” she said.

“Everything we do is for those kids who don’t have a lot of access to community-based arts. Those kids who don’t have dance lessons or season tickets to shows,” said Diamond-Burroway. “I think that one of the things that Actors for Children’s Theatre wants to impress upon our child audiences is there is much room for hope and imagination.”

Performance arts, said Diamond-Burroway, can help students master a range of school subjects by helping them to make the connections between them. Theater, she said, “allows kids to explore concepts that maybe traditional instruction might make hard to grasp. We try to break it down in a way that is easy for kids to understand and learn,” she said.

For example, “A Thousand Cranes” is based on the true story of a Japanese girl who died from radiation poisoning 10 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Diamond-Burroway said actors worked with the Japanese Language Studies classes at Marshall University to bring as much authenticity to the performance as possible. It will provide children who see it, she said, a chance to be “transported to Japan” in addition to the history and other concepts the play presents.

Stephens said that is exactly why what ACT does is important.

“When kids are exposed to live arts and performances whether theater or music, or dance or visual arts, whether they are experiencing it themselves or audience members, it allows them to think creatively, it’s a different experience than everything they do in their day,” said Stephens, adding “It can take them to that next level of learning.” 

Before a performance, ACT provides teachers with a curriculum packet, which has been developed by a certified teacher. Additional activities or lessons are also suggested.

Performances of “A Thousand Cranes” are already booked, but the troupe will begin scheduling dates for “A Gift-Bear for the King” soon.

For more information about ACT, or to schedule a performance, like them on Facebook or contact Diamond-Burroway at (606) 922-2903.