Horizon enters new stage PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 09:31
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Horizon youth theater instructor Duffee Maddox (left) and students (from left)  Yelia Xu and Rose Walters draw out scenes during a class on theater design at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Horizon Youth Theatre is all about education.
The troupe introduces its ebullient band of fledgling thespians to the theatrical arts. And in the past several years it has served as a training ground for an equally enthusiastic group of college directors and theatrical technicians.
Those dual roles are now being recognized with an agreement between the youth troupe and the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University.
Aimee Reid, who teaches youth theater at BGSU, said the collaboration with Horizon Youth will give college students interested in studying youth theater much needed experience.
Now they have the Treehouse Troupe which travels to schools throughout the region staging plays. That's all.
The new agreement expands their horizons.
Horizon Youth Theatre does plays in fall and late spring, the latter usually a musical. It has also stages one-act plays, including original scripts penned by Horizon members. It also offers a drama club that is offered monthly during the school year, and weekly during the summer.
The drama club offers stand-alone drop in sessions for $5 a pop. These offer more flexibility than the week- or two-week-long workshops the company had offered in the summer.
The agreement formalizes what had been in place since founder Scott Regan relinquished the reins of the theater he founded in 1997. When Regan stepped aside, the troupe turned to one of his students Cassie Guion to direct, and later to serve as managing director, said Kate Frishman, the Horizon board president. Now graduated, Guion is moving out of the area.
The troupe has also benefited from the assistance of young artists affiliated with BGSU and with the independent troupe Lionface Productions.
Reid said she will oversee the students and review their ideas for productions.
BGSU is also offering the troupe something it has been lacking - a space to play.
The troupe will now be able to call the Wolfe Center for the Arts home.
Under the agreement, Reid said, the troupe will use Wolfe Center classrooms for classes and some rehearsals, and stage smaller productions in the Eva Marie Saint black box theater. It will move onto the big stage in the Donnell Theatre for its larger-scale shows.
Reid said this fits with the desire of the university administration to make greater use of the Wolfe Center and draw more community residents into the building.
Finding space has been an issue. Every show has meant weeks of calls to find a place to rehearse and perform. Frishman said board members won't miss that chore.
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Instructor Jon Gazda (second from left) works with students (from left) Bob Walters, Kam Hall and Sophie Hachtel.
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Horizon youth theater students (from left) Bob Walters (left) and  Kam Hall (right) act on the spot as classmate Sophie Hachtel (middle) observes.
The troupe, Frishman said, is truly community theater relying on various resources in the city.
Local churches including The First United Methodist, home of the Players, and St. Mark's Lutheran provided space. Lately the troupe has used the school district's Performing Arts Center, but the district charges a rental fee. Also, during the school year, Frishman said, the center is heavily booked for school activities.
Still, working in the space has been "a lovely experience" for Horizon with the staff "providing everything we need."
This is the latest wrinkle for Horizon's managing structure. With Regan at the helm, it existed under the auspices of BGSU, but when he retired, that arrangement ended. It drifted for a bit before coming under the umbrella of the Black Swamp Players. That provides the troupe with its tax exempt status and insurance.
It also forged an informal alliance with Lionface, itself only a few years old. Those young actors, most BGSU graduates, provided "elbow grease" and expertise to Horizon, Frishman said.
The new agreement with BGSU doesn't change its affiliation with Black Swamp Players, and the board will retain all control over administration of the troupe, Frishman said. "Our goal is to create an environment in which we can continue to grow."
The transition to the new arrangement "has been very smooth," she said.
Reid said that the Horizon board has done an excellent job managing the troupe. "I'm only concerned about not screwing it up."
 

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