Reverie Fair Magazine - Page 41

youth to find their voice and communicate with purpose.

When I first started directing in local community theatres, many kids expressed that there were few (if any) theatre opportunities through their after school drama programs. The chances of being cast in a production were slim, and this conundrum prevented them from gaining the valuable exposure to theatre altogether. I felt compelled to be a part of changing this.

Ultimately, the kids that I’ve had the privilege of working with inspired me to start Marquee Youth. I believed and still believe that all youth need a theatre that represents their voice and empowers them, meeting them where they’re at and getting them to the next level.

What draws you to working with children and what are the challenges?

I find their vibrant and inquisitive response to the world around them so refreshing and inspiring. Working with youth—especially in theatre—brings me such joy, and the challenges keep you on your toes, for sure.

How is Marquee different from other theatre companies?

What distinguishes Marquee from other theatre companies is that we offer quality theatre opportunities to all youth, regardless of experience or skill level. We have levels of instruction and mentorship, from professional teaching artists to talented high school interns that work well with youth, so kids are supported at every level. Another

distinguishing factor is that Marquee values giving back to the community by partnering with charitable organizations. As part of our mission, we encourage cast families to delve deeper into the stories told onstage and apply them by serving the community in a relevant way. Some of the charitable organizations we’ve been fortunate to serve through show- inspired service projects include Mooseheart, Lazarus House, Marklund Homes, and Northern Illinois Food Bank.

In what ways do you think theatre helps children?

I think theatre has many benefits. Besides providing a great creative outlet where kids can get out of their shells to flesh out their characters, theatre helps children develop voice and purpose in a way that allows them to feel like a valued member of the group. Studies show that the critical thinking and soft skills gained from theatre are useful in every aspect of life, from personal to work and everything in between. And whether you’re on stage or on the other side of the footlights, theatre is a humanizing art that can change us for the better.

The Play's the Thing

©Luciano Bilotti