APS Column: Drama Club begins meeting again

Published 5:58 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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By Kim Potter

Theater Club Director

As a parent, it is difficult to see your child not be able to share their passion and talents with the world. This was the case for some of our high school students and their families over the past four years, when the Austin High School drama program seemingly disappeared during COVID.

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I have seen productions from Matchbox Children’s Theater, IJ Holton, Ellis, Riverland, and Summerset post-COVID, but where were the opportunities for high schoolers? Yes, we are fortunate that our local theaters allow high schoolers to audition, but it’s not quite the same as having a program of their own. As an actor and participant in many shows throughout the last seven years, I have seen and experienced the high quality of talent and support the theater community gives to each other. I have heard comments like “this feels like a family” or “I’ve found my people” many times, and it always makes me smile and fills my heart. So, to know these high schoolers were missing out broke my heart.

I began speaking with various people in the community and parents of potential actors and one finally told me I should do it. That gave me the confidence that we could work together to bring back the Austin High School drama club. I kept stressing that my focus would be that we all work together to be a strong connected network for all students.

This year, the Austin High School drama club began meeting on a weekly basis to teach all elements of theater and bring in people to speak with our students about those specifics. When we started out, I wasn’t sure how many would show up, but we currently have 37 members. We have done many community events, participated in a Summerset performance in November, and are continuing to get invitations to do more events monthly.

We have been fortunate to receive tickets from the Riverland foundation to attend their plays this year. When we attended “Addams Family” in the fall, some of the students didn’t know there was a theater in town and had never seen a show live. They were cheering so loud at every song and pumped up those actors so much. When they came out to the lobby, I felt like I was watching Broadway actors as the students cheered for each one like they were stars!

The collaboration that has been created across our entire theater community has brought so many smiles. The students are more involved, willing to volunteer for more opportunities and see that it is an honor to be on, off and backstage.

Now we are working on our next challenge, which is to bring our first production to the stage during the last week of February. We will be sharing lots of information as we get closer to our premiere but be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram in the meantime.

We’re incredibly excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and are anxiously looking forward to our next steps as we work to bring drama club back at Austin High School.