Theater group Yes! And… invites urban and suburban kids into a play’s creative process.
“We tell these less fortunate kids that if they can imagine it, we’ll make it,” said Mark Hallen, director of Eastern Theatre and member of the YAboard.
Y A has held 19 camps over the last eight summers that have let children and adults interact personally and physically.
This year on an August 25 summer camp practice at the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church , alumni Robb Rineer and Jon Froehlich had a group of kids pretend they were lost in the desert.
“We are about building care and family into these children,” Amy Gorman, staff member and alumna said.
YAfirst appeared at Eastern in 1998. Under the direction of Hallen, students and YA directors and members formed the Eastern Summer Theatre Camp.
English professor Betsy Morgan’s contributed to YA by being on the board of directors as well as networking for national and international venues for the theater group.
“It has really been wonderful to see students I have taught to direct this thing, making little money, and living out faith, reason and justice,” Morgan said.
According to Jake Miller, alumnus and co-founder of YA, this past summer’s seven camps were spread out nationally: five in Philadelphia, one in Camden, New Jersey and one in central Los Angeles.
“The September project will manifest to Eastern how far YA has come,” Hallen said.
The project is entitled, Extra! Play All About It. The story will combine the past six years of work at YA.
“Eastern served as her womb. Now she has the chance to see how much her child has grown,” Hallen said.
Brooke Sexton, one of the five co-founders of YA, is currently writing up the September project.
“This show will be about the book of history and how it is disappearing,” said Sexton.
The show will run at Eastern from September 22 to 25. Admission will be $6.
According to Gorman, YA classes also teach vulnerability in the sense of honesty and friendliness. Gorman compared these teachings to those of Jesus.
“His death was a very vulnerable act. And it taught His followers that such vulnerability is caring: a trait that both these underprivileged children and the world desperately need,” Gorman said.