CAT Youth Theatre
CAT Youth Theatre News
June Campaign Success!
This past June we launched our annual fundraising campaign- 10 days to raise $25,000. With the generosity of over 450 donors, our team leaders not only hit this goal but surpassed it! To date we've raised over $35,000, making this our most successful campaign yet. Thank you to all who participated, donated, shared stories, and supported the campaign.
Happy 20th Birthday, CAT Youth Theatre!
July 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of CAT Youth Theatre. In July of 1995, 33 high school students took part in Helen White's course "Creating Theatre with Young People." At the end of the course, the group wanted to continue to meet and create original theatre together, saying, "No one has ever asked us for our ideas before." Twenty years later, the program remains FREE for all members. We hope you'll join us throughout the year to celebrate twenty years of CAT Youth Theatre!
About the CAT Youth Theatre
CAT Youth Theatre is a free, award-winning after school program that helps young people to thrive– on stage and in life. Members create socially relevant, artistically sophisticated original plays while learning vital life skills enabling youth to become self-confident, compassionate and accountable; to develop relationships across differences; build community; and be prepared to act as contributing citizens. Membership is free to the young people who participate. There are no auditions required – just a commitment to be an active participant of the CAT Youth Theatre community.
The collaborative theatre process gives young people the opportunity to make new meanings from the material of their lives. Each week, members participate in theatre games and exercises, improvisations and scene work, rehearsal, critical reflection, and group discussion as they look critically at the world around them, decide what it is they want their theatre to say, and think about what their role in the world should be. It inspires creativity, builds self-esteem and resiliency, broadens horizons, develops social awareness AND it’s free!
Each spring, the CAT Youth Theatre company (young people in high school) presents a full production of an original work in a professional venue. Three times a year, the Junior Youth Theatre company (young people in middle school) present original work at the CAT studio.
Have you seen Program Director Helen White's New Yorker of the Week segment? Check it out here and get a glimpse of the Youth Theatre in action.
CAT Youth Theatre receives generous support from the New York City Council, New York State Council on the Arts, and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
Follow CAT Youth Theatre on Facebook.
To provide young people with hands-on opportunities to create original theatre experiences from their own ideas that will stimulate:
- Self-esteem and resiliency
- Broader horizons
- A strong sense of community
- Reflection on what it means to be a theatre-maker and an active, engaged citizen in society
- Social awareness and activism through theatre.
Since its founding in 1995, CAT Youth Theatre has:
- Presented over 50 original ensemble shows, all created and performed by members
- Held 12-hour, non-stop, sponsored improvisation marathons
- Performed, by invitation, in Chicago, London, the U.N., and as the first American company ever selected for the international Contacting the World Youth Theatre Festival in Liverpool, England
- Motivated over 80% of its members to graduate from high school and go on to college
Seen alumni achieve careers in the arts, business, the military, and other pursuits. Several have returned after graduation to become professional CAT teaching artists
"CAT Youth Theatre is about learning and growing. Everyone listens and is open without judgement. I don't know who I would be without CAT." - Youth Theatre Alum
SEE-SAW- 2015 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production
The See-Saw: an iconic image of childhood, of playgrounds, of innocence. But a see-saw can also represent balance and extremes, highs and lows, instability and risk. There is a different view from each end of the see-saw – how does what we see effect what we perceive? Where are things balanced in society, and what inequities exist? How do we choose to live our lives - what struggles do we engage in? CAT Youth Theatre examines these questions and more in an entertaining and provocative original production.
Themes for investigation vary from year to year in response to the group’s interests and concerns. Recent shows include:
IN TRUTH - 2014 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production
From childhood, we are told to tell the truth, believe certain truths, and be true to ourselves and to each other. But how do we know the truth? Whose truth dominates and how are we misled? IN TRUTH asked audiences to consider their own relationships with truth. Within our families or within our society, what are the stories we are told and those we choose to tell? Why are certain things harder for us to talk honestly about? From sex to drugs, from our current relationships to our past history, the CAT Youth Theatre examined these questions and more in an entertaining and provocative original production.
INSIDE OUT - 2013 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production
What meaning can we make from viewing the world through the concept of Inside Out? Sweaters and socks can be turned inside out - but so can people and lives. When do we view things from the inside out and when from the outside in? Can we ever know someone inside out? Through a myriad of themes including relationships, responsibilities, health, and poverty, the CAT Youth Theatre presents INSIDE OUT, an entertaining and provocative original piece.
“Our year began with a shooting on the street outside the Empire State Building – right around the corner from where we were meeting. Later in the semester, New York City was hit by hurricane Sandy. It was probably not surprising that much of our work seemed to be concerned with how easily our lives can be turned inside out,” says CAT Youth Theatre founder and program director Helen White. “And yet amongst the upheaval, it also became even more important to laugh and celebrate life. The show uses the concept of INSIDE OUT to constantly flip the way we view the world.”
SEEKING JUSTICE - SPRING 2012 ORIGINAL CAT YOUTH THEATRE SHOW
What is our relationship to justice? Who does justice serve? When and how should we fight for justice?
In a time where celebrity court cases and high-profile crimes are all over the news and protests over injustices have erupted in New York and around the globe, questions of what is just, and how justice is even defined, are more relevant than ever. The CUNY Creative Arts Team's CAT Youth Theatre will explore many facets of justice in its upcoming original production of SEEKING JUSTICE, created by the members of the CAT Youth Theatre.
"SEEKING JUSTICE developed from the young people's observations on how they see the Justice System and then reflecting on what justice really is - and should be" says CAT Youth Theatre founder and program director Helen White. "Since November, the 31 members who are working on this production have been researching different kinds of justice - from the legal system to street justice, from vengeance to forgiveness, from families to schools - to generate original theatre that grapples with the question what IS justice? And who should decide?"
The Power Game: Looked at relationships to power, responsibilties of power, and what kinds of power young people have.
From Time to Time: Toured to communities of older adults and explored the question, “What does it mean to have lived a good life?’
What Lies Beneath: Explored death, grief, Alzheimer’s, suicide, sexuality, Facebook.
Gone to Look for America: “What does it mean to be American?” Themes included politics, history, race, debt, and the struggles of everyday New Yorkers.
War Zones: Explored literal and metaphorical sources of conflict, including HIV/Aids, gangs, the role of the media, home and family.
Get involved- Join the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre
Launched in 2013, the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre are Youth Theatre Alumni and other supporters who produce events for the Youth Theatre community to come together to perform, celebrate, socialize, and raise funds to support the program.
We need your help! Current Friends volunteer opportunities include:
Providing food for rehearsals
Assisting with load in and/or strike
Box Office and Ushering
Media and Publicity Support
Are you interested in getting involved with the Youth Theatre? Want to help us plan activities, produce reunion events, fundraise, and keep the Youth Theatre community active throughout the year (and be a part of it yourself)? What ideas do you have?
Join the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre! If you are interested in becoming a Friend, click here and let us know!
For more information or to join, contact:
Manager, CAT Youth Theatre
Associate Director, CAT Youth Theatre
Director, CAT Youth Theatre
and Kaplan Center
Interested in supporting the Youth Theatre?