Reverie Fair Magazine - Page 40

How/when did you become interested in theatre?

I became interested in theatre sort of serendipitously when I was in middle school in 8th grade. We didn’t have a theatre program at my school, but my friend Crystal and I decided to do a history fair project on child labor. It started out as your typical foam board tri-fold presentation, but for some reason our social studies teacher, Mrs. Fox, encouraged us to turn it into a historical skit. We went along with it and started researching, writing, and practicing. We rehearsed after school with our English teacher, Mrs. Barnes, and those moments turned out to be some of my favorite middle school memories. I didn’t have a clue about blocking; I still remember doing the most awkward stage cross because I didn’t know what she meant by “walk at an angle”. We worked hard, had lots of laughs, and learned not only about child labor, but about telling a story to bring history to life. Social studies was not one of my favorite subjects, but that project opened my eyes to how theatre could add meaning and color to something that seemed black and white. The rest is history!

What prompted you to start your own theatre company?

Having worked as a drama teacher and director with a wide range of middle school and high school students, I witnessed the invaluable benefits of performing for all youth. Whether working with highly talented, aspiring, or shy performers, I was always amazed by its transforming impact on young people. Not only does theatre provide a creative outlet, but it is also a safe place for taking risks and empowering

Connie Flores doesn’t so much run a children’s theatre as she creates an inspiring home where theatre flourishes. She is the founder and artistic director of the Marquee Youth Stage. This space is situated incongruently in the middle of a largely deserted mall, though she and the mall owners would hasten to point out that The Quad (formerly the Charlestowne Mall) in St. Charles, Illinois, is in redevelopment. What makes this place a home, of course, is not the physical structure. Connie’s assumption is that all who walk through the doors belong here, even if they’ve never set foot on a stage. She operates with a quiet, warm power and the attitude that everyone has talent that needs encouragement and space to develop. Even the parents who drop their children off for rehearsal are drawn into the theatrical experience. She follows the first rule of improve, say “Yes, and…”.

By Barbara Barrows

©Denise Bennorth