Young People’s Theatre celebrates 40th year with ‘Don Quixote’

Young Peoples Theatre celebrates 40th year with Don Quixote

Lovey Cooper

The Appalachian Young People’s Theatre, an outreach program of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian State University, will perform a children’s adaptation of its touring show “The Adventures of Don Quixote” by Steven Fogell this Friday through Sunday at the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre.

The group of students, most of whom are part of the production for class credit, have been touring with the show all semester to public schools across the state.

AYPT is one of the few classroom performance opportunities on campus that functions relatively independently from faculty influence.

“It’s probably one of the best opportunities that the theatre department offers for that reason,” said Luke White, junior theatre major and touring manager of the production. “When you enter the course, you are expected to build your own show from the ground up and that’s a really unique opportunity.”

White performed with the group as an actor his freshman year, and has since come back for a paid position.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for students to apply theatre, collaboration and group problem-solving skills,” said theatre arts professor Teresa Lee, who has been in charge of AYPT for the past 26 years.

Lee said AYPT has been producing shows for 40 years.

“Kids will get what they want out of it – the adventure and the storytelling – but adults will get something out of it too, about when childhood ends and you enter adulthood, and wanting to go back and forth,” said Christian Underwood, junior theatre education major and a main character in the show.

Underwood hopes to teach theatre in middle or high school after graduation. For him, AYPT is a chance to experience the work involved in setting up lighting, sets and costumes for children’s productions – aspects of teaching that he will have to manage every day in the future.

But a touring show carries its own challenges, including designing a set and planning performances that will translate to different schools with various spaces to provide, ranging from gymnasiums to professional auditoriums.

Additionally, as a touring show, actors must perform the same material week after week, usually multiple times a day for different groups of students.

“The cool thing is I thought I would get tired of it, but with different audiences and different kids, you can react in different ways and sometimes you’re just having a great time just playing around and believing it yourself,” said Taylor Anne Wade, freshman performance major and cast member.

The show itself is substantially different from most other productions that the actors have been in so far.

“Children’s theatre is a whole different ballgame, you have so many other elements to think about,” Underwood said. “You have to have the energy to draw [younger kids] in because they will believe that you are that character. They don’t see the actor, they only see that world, so that’s the fun and the challenge of it.”

“The Adventures of Don Quixote” will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre. Tickets are $5 for children and students and $10 for adults.

Story by Lovey Cooper, Senior A&E Reporter