Q and A: Children’s Castle Theater gets back up to speedChildren’s Castle Theater started in Farmington as a project of a group of college students, and over the years it has been maintained in large part by people not a lot older than the kids who filled out the theater’s casts. With college students’ busy lives, though, that has sometimes made it difficult to keep a steady production schedule.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Children’s Castle Theater started in Farmington as a project of a group of college students, and over the years it has been maintained in large part by people not a lot older than the kids who filled out the theater’s casts. With college students’ busy lives, though, that has sometimes made it difficult to keep a steady production schedule.
Now, a group of longtime actors, directors and stage managers hope to change that. The group plans to return the theater to a twice-yearly schedule of productions, starting with shows of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this weekend at the Lakeville Arts Center.
We talked to Kayla Yaeger, a Farmington High School graduate and a longtime CCT member, about the theater’s return.
Let’s start by talking about how long you’ve been involved, because you’ve kind of been doing this forever.
Yeah, pretty much.
Do you remember what your first Children’s Castle Theater play was?
Yeah, it was the Velveteen Rabbit and I was 7, I believe, in second grade.
And you just thought this seemed like a good, fun thing to do?
My family kind of got involved in it because we would always read stories together, or me and my siblings, and act out plays at home. I came home with a flyer and just thought it would be a good thing to audition for. I kind of got involved through that.
And then you were hooked.
What is it that kept you coming back?
I think it was just a lot of fun being able to do something. It was just me that was in the first show and then my sister got involved later on. My parents enjoyed helping out. It was a good family activity that we could all do and it was something different from sports. I play softball and like sports too, but it was nice to have something else.
There used to be more regular productions, and then it went away. Is that just a factor of people getting busy and people not having as much time to dedicate to it?
Pretty much. When it started out, when I was acting, there was around two to three shows per year with the original directors, the founders of the theater. And then as we got older me and a few of the other actors, Zack Ailabouni was the main one, started volunteering on staff just doing stage managing or helping out backstage. When the founders ended up kind of moving on with their lives, Zack took over as one of the directors and that’s how I kind of became stage manager and started doing some assistant directing. Between me and Zack and Heidi, one of the other directors, just with with college and everything it became really complicated since we were all in different locations to have the same schedule to be able to come together and do something. We haven’t been able to do a whole lot of stuff the last few years but now that everyone’s out of college and still in the area we decided it’s something we wanted to start up again and do on a more regular basis.
How did that happen? Was it just sort of you talking to some people one day and saying, “We should try and do this more”?
Really what it came down to is, we were sitting around and just thinking about how many families we have that continue to come back.... We just thought about the experiences we had when we were younger and how it was something that was there for us on a continuous basis and wanting to provide something like that for those families and those kids as well so they could continue to be involved was really kind of the driving factor. Plus we have fun doing it.
You feel like it gave you a lot growing up and you want to give that to other people.
Exactly. Just through the amount of education you get as well that you can relate to school and life experience of learning about public speaking and memorizing and working in groups. Just really being very responsible and learning how to be there on time and how your part affects a huge group. Things like that.
The goal now is two productions a year? Is that right?
That’s what we’re hoping for. We’re doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory performances coming up. And then we’re going to be doing another show in June. We’ll have auditions I think in May. We’re hoping to get back on two productions a year. Three might be hard at this point. We’ll see how it goes.
How have things gone with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so far?
We have a really, really strong cast and it’s just a really fun show in general because all of the crazy stuff that’s happening. Different little jokes that are oriented more toward parents. The kids like it because there’s all these magical things. Giant candies on stage. Stuff like that. It’s been going really well.
Have you got a big cast?
I think it’s around 67 actors in the cast. The youngest one I think is around 4 or 5 and the oldest is 57. A wide age range.
A whole lot of kids to keep track of.
And adults. You’ve got to keep them in line, too.
That’s true. We have a lot of parents that help out with rehearsals. Everyone gets watched.
Anything else I should know about Children’s Castle Theater?
We’re going to be at the community expo on Saturday, so if anyone’s interested in talking to us or learning more they can stop by there. Otherwise, that’s about it. We’re trying to come back and provide education and experiences that are different than sports. We definitely have a lot of kids that are involved in sports.
We try to work around schedules. If kids are involved in other activities they can still be involved in that. There’ definitely no experience required. We focus on teaching kids something new.