Location: Lucid Stage – 29 Baxter Boulevard, Portland ME. 04101
Project Team: Liz McMahon and Michael Toth
Lucid Stage’s Youth Theatre Experience at will occur in two sessions over two months. We aim to bring the adventure of theatre to underserved teens. Each session will provide the opportunity for 20 students to attend tuition free or at a subsidized rate, serving 40 teens in Portland. These students will be exposed to the basics of acting, dance/movement, and technical theatre. A full-blown production presented by the students will conclude the session.
How are you making Maine a better place for young people?
I am a practicing theatre artist who has worked several years for The Children’s Theatre of Maine and USM Theatre Academy. Having recently received my Master’s Degree from the University of Florida, I decided to return to Portland and immerse myself in its culturally rich community. Much of my training and experience has been with young people and I share the power, confidence, and critical thinking skills I’ve learned with them.
Currently, I am volunteering at Lucid Stage, which is a newly constructed community arts center on Baxter Boulevard. Lucid provides a vital and affordable space for a myriad of artistic endeavors that keep our city vibrant. I remember the first time I could afford a theatre ticket at a respectable venue with a professional show. It filled my mind with wonder, awe, and imagination. By supporting Lucid, I know I am helping to make that feeling possible for other youths in the area.
What challenges in your community are you addressing? (1 paragraph)
The Youth Theatre Experience at Lucid Stage will not only help support the community arts center, but also provide a fantastic summer theatre experience for underserved teens in our community. With school budgets getting slashed, many students in the area will be without any kind of summer programming for 2012. We cannot allow some of the economically and socially challenged youths to slip through the cracks because we failed to provide an affordable opportunity for them.
Who will benefit from your idea? How will people access and learn about the work you are doing?
Our plan is to contract local organizations such as Living With Peace, to ensure that the students who attend the program are truly in need or disenfranchised. We will also be in touch with several High School guidance counselors and staff at the YMCA to make sure this happens. With financial support, myself and staff at Lucid Stage will reach out to the community. Also, The Youth Theatre Experience would be advertised on our website at www.lucidstage.com.
What major success would you like to see at the end or apex of your project?
I would like to see the teens we bring into the program grow through the magic of theatre. I want to see them find their voices and take a step toward finding themselves. I want them to learn about empathy by walking in someone else’s shoes on stage. Mostly, I want them to have an educational summer where they bring some of their world to life. Ultimately, I would like to see Lucid Stage succeed so that it can continue to bring experiences like this one to the young people of Portland.
Any thing else you’d like us to know?
My life so far has been the transitory life of an actor. I am pleased and proud to have landed back in Portland, a city I have always loved and consider my home. It would be my great privilege to see this program happen and give back to the community that has enriched my life so much. Having recently contacted Cristina Feller, the head of Living With Peace, I am confident that this project will impact our city for the better. I would like to include her remarks:
“A program for youth at Lucid Stage! This is just the opportunity that we have been looking for—we have a dozen or more teens from the immigrant communities who sing, dance, play instruments, act, orate, direct, perform, paint, create and who have been developing their talents despite no or limited access to a functioning theater or stage,” states Christina Feller, President of Living With Peace. “We look forward to helping, supporting, even partnering with Lucid Stage to bring these programs to light (camera and action) and to build a foundation for an ongoing program. I can tell you now that we have one Burundian teenage boy, two Sudanese teenage girls, and one Rwandese teenage girl all of whom have dreams and visions of producing or presenting the issues of the day through whatever artistic measures are presented to them. We encourage and support Liz and her team in whatever they do, and we know the entire community will continue to benefit from her leadership.” Christina Feller