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Paying it forward to the next generation of actors

The Treasure Valley Youth Theater teaches the next generation of actors.

The Treasure Valley Youth Theater teaches children how to act. Some may go on to a career in the stage or film, but founder Autumn Kersey says what they teach can apply to any career choice. "Treasure valley children's theater can certainly offer kids the opportunity to learn about performance and a career in the arts, but our ultimate goal is to raise wonderful human beings. "

Kersey continued, "We teach them about how to speak passionately about what they're interested in. How to listen and engage in meaningful conversation and how to disagree respectfully. We teach them about budgeting and marketing and fundraising. All of our young performers are challenged to go out and find a business to underwrite their participation, so they learn a life skill in terms of marketing and asking people for support. And we believe that those are the lessons that theater teaches. Those are the lessons that great people need to move into a future career whether that's in the theater or that's running a business or running for president or running for city council."

Classes are taught at the Youth Theater's temporary home in the New Ventures Lab in Meridian.

Since the Youth Theater is a 501c3 non-profit, every dollar counts. Nothing is just used once and thrown away. In the basement at New Ventures, Autumn showed me the costumes, props and other gear that are used for the performances.

She pulled out a tub that's full of hand puppets that often make appearances in their productions. "We produced charlotte's web a couple years ago," Kersey explained. "One of our very favorite stories to tell and we hope to produce it again in the future. And yes, we puppeted the goose in that particular story."

Many of the stage props are handmade by volunteers. What they can't make, they get cheap. She pointed to baby-sized grand piano that she bought used. "We found this great roll top desk at a yard sale," she said. It was featured in a recent production of "A Christmas Carol."

"We've left lucrative jobs in sales or hospitality or what have you because we see a future for the Treasure Valley Youth Theater in Meridian and in the entire valley.

"We do it because we want to change the world. We just want really amazing kids to grow up to realize their power and influence in their community and how they should be obligated to use that power to do good in their community."

Autumn Kersey founded both the Treasure Valley Children's Theater and the Treasure Valley Youth Theater. The Children's Theater is made up of a group of adults who perform for children. In the Youth Theater, the children are taught to be the performers.

The next production, "The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever" will be with the Treasure Valley Children's Theater. For dates and ticket prices, click here.

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