Dear Career Doctor:
I am an Afro-American female who has taught in the inner city for thirty years with a husband who partnered with me without being paid himself. Together, we have put on many children’s plays. I am retiring this year. How do my husband and I go about beginning a career in Children’s Theatre?
First of all, don’t think of yourself as beginning a career in Children’s Theatre, think of yourself as continuing to grow it. As you point out, you have lots of experience! Second, decide whether you want to join an existing group or start one yourself.
Two companies that work around the country are the Missoula Children’s Theatre and Theatreworks USA. Missoula sends directors, costumes and sets to local theatres and auditions local children to play the parts. Theatreworks provides the actors and specializes in bringing favorite children’s books to the stage. You could contact these organizations and research others to see if they could use your skills in some way.
If you want to start your own Children’s Theatre, you probably should explore partnering with an organization that already has an appropriate space. It is difficult enough to make money in any theatre endeavor, but all the more difficult if you have to rent space. Schools or houses of worship might be interested in having you create an after school, weekend or summer theatre program for them. You might also check the phone book or internet to find people who give acting classes and partner with them.
At a time when schools are cutting their arts budgets, I think many parents will pay to have their children taught the performing arts. The poise and self-confidence (not to mention the fun) that kids can gain by being on stage is invaluable.