Guild Builders program is expanding its reach

Photo Provided Troy Snyder, a former technical director at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg who is a professor of theater at Fairmont State University, teaches design at a Youth Guild Builders workshop.

PARKERSBURG — A local youth theater program is growing.

Guild Builders, under the auspices of the Actors Guild of Parkersburg, after tremendous growth over the past three years is expanding, according to program Chair Brent Null.

“When I took over the program in 2016, we decided to do a little reorganizing in terms of our programming,” Null said. “We continue to serve our core elementary and middle school kids, but we added a Teen Program which serves those in high school.”

Guild Builders, which performs one large production each season at the Guild, is a free theater program for any student in the Mid-Ohio Valley who is in fourth through ninth grades.

The new Teen Program also is free and includes those in ninth through 12th grades.

Photo Provided The Teen Program prepares for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” From left are Braden Medendorp, Trinity Jordan, Becca Medendorp, Athena Root, Chloe Rader and Garrett Garrett Honse. Kneeling is Gavin Honse.

“One of the things we looked at closely when discussing expansion was the number of kids involved in the program who wanted a more in-depth, concentrated theater education,” Null said.

Beginning July 1, registration will open for the new Youth Theatre Workshop Program. It will last for 10 weeks and will culminate in a three-show production in mid-October.

The workshop will be held 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays and will focus on music, dance and acting. However, the material will be all original and will allow the kids that are participating to have equally sized roles in the production, Null said.

“This model has been successfully done in other youth theaters across the country and it is very beneficial to those involved. We take kids with varying degrees of skill and ability and, based on how the production is structured, we give everyone an equal opportunity to shine. There are no “lead” roles and there are no “supporting” roles. Everyone is a lead.”

The new workshop program differs from the large-scale Guild Builders productions. The core focus of the workshop is more on the disciplines of theater and less on the large-budget items like sets and costumes.

Photo Provided The Youth Guild Builders create a superhero during a design workshop around Thea Koskey, who is lying on the floor.

Limited to 30 students in the workshop, the cost is $100 per student with a $25 discount for siblings. Scholarships based on need will be available for up to five students who want to participate.

The regular Guild Builders production will not change. It will continue to be offered for free to the community and will remain audition-based, he said. “Madagascar Jr.” will be the 2019-2020 production with auditions in mid-October and the show to be presented in January.

The Teen Program has grown since it began in the fall of 2017. Since that time, it has performed “Spoon River Anthology,” “Glimpses,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Its next and most challenging production will be the high school edition of “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

“The Teen Program has grown from eight kids in the fall of 2017 to now over 40,” Null said. “The kids themselves have recruited classmates and friends to join the program. They have been begging to do something big and challenging. Well, you can’t get much bigger or more challenging than Sweeney Todd. These are some incredibly talented performers and I cannot wait for them to showcase their abilities.”

Sweeney Todd will be a collaboration with West Virginia University at Parkersburg and will be performed in the college’s Little Theatre from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3.

To raise the necessary funds for this and other Guild Builders activities, a Summer Carnival will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 15 in the Actors Guild Annex, formerly the Cox Building, located at 716 Market St. next door to the Actors Guild Playhouse.

Admission is $5 per person and includes 15 game and food tickets. Games, prizes, food and a bake sale will be available and there will be appearances from favorite cartoon and superhero characters. Additional game and food tickets will be available for purchase.

The event will be held indoors and will go on rain or shine.

For more information about Guild Builders, email guildbuilders@actors-guild.com or go to actors-guild.com/guild-builders.html.