Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Kirk Community Theatre - from Dawn Gaffney

When I found out that Kirk’s Community Theatre was facing being closed down, I was shocked. How could such a wonderful program be shut down?  My daughter has been a part of this drama program for two years now, and it has done so much for her. Not only has it provided a place for her to pursue an activity she loves, but it has boosted her self-confidence, shown her strong and lasting friendships, and a chance to get away from school work in a positive manner.

Due to recent budget cuts in education, the drama programs in high schools aren’t getting the funds they need to be successful. The classes are limited, and the plays and musicals are not getting proper lighting, sound, costume, props, and recognition. Should my child be denied the pleasure of performing only because her school isn’t an art magnet? Kirk provides her with a place to do something she loves, while also allowing her a chance to learn how to perform with lights, costumes, and sound. Speaking from experience, I know that being able to act with adequate equipment makes all the difference to both the audience and the actors.

As I mentioned above, the Kirk Theatre program has boosted my daughter’s self-confidence.  For years my daughter has been reserved around other people. She has never been very outgoing, and would get nervous when meeting new people or trying new things. But she always held an interest in drama. We tried another play program, but it wasn’t very welcoming and she didn’t make many friends. Finally, I convinced her to try out for a Kirk production.  When we found out she made the cast, she joined, and I think it was one of the best things for her. Being cast in the past four productions has let my daughter realize she has some talent outside of schoolwork. She is now excited to audition and believes in herself enough to actually practice and harbor the thought of receiving a lead. And who has ! helped so much in boosting her self-confidence? The staff of YPT and her fellow actors. The staff members have continuously praised her when she has nailed a character, and offered advice and suggestions when needed. They have taught her much about acting and about how to respect the stage, directors, audience, actors, and the various behind-the-scenes people. My daughter has grown so much throughout her time in these plays, and most of the credit goes to the deserving Kirk Community Center and its staff.

Shortly after joining Kirk and its productions, my daughter showed me how much she enjoyed the kids in her play. Seeing as how they are fellow thespians, they accepted her and her love of acting; whereas at certain high schools, acting is considered “uncool” and for “drama-freaks”. But at Kirk, they are all “drama-freaks” and can be themselves around each other.  Kirk is comprised of children from all over the San Jose area.  There are students from many different schools participating in this program. If it were to close down, many friendships would be broken.  Of course the kids could swap addresses and phone numbers, but it would be difficult to keep up friendships.&nb! sp; Should Kirk be closed, my daughter, and many other actors, would lose good and close friends they had made while doing an activity they all loved.

It is a well-known fact that children who are involved in their community and/or a sporting activity, are less likely to be out on the streets.  Adolescents who aren’t athletically gifted, or for those who just have no interest in sports, need some sort of creative outlet where they can enjoy themselves without causing trouble. Kirk provides that outlet. With weekly practices and dance rehearsal, much of a child’s time is taken up. If Kirk were to close, where might these children be after school?  Is it not safer to have the student under adult supervision while they enjoy doing an activity than to have them home alone or hanging around at school, or the mall, after hours?  School can be stressful for a student, not only are classes and teachers! quite demanding, but the social atmosphere can be overwhelming. At Kirk, there are no tests or pop quizzes, there are no social expectations. It’s only a place where a child could go to act. To enjoy themselves and entertain others.

Continuing on the subject of entertainment, I have been a Girl Scout leader for almost 26 years, and I have been bringing my Girl Scout troops to see the Kirk plays for 12 of those years. I know first-hand how much the girls love seeing the shows. They are able to experience the arts on their own terms.  They don’t have to dress up and sit perfectly still in a chair for 3 hours watching a performance they don’t understand. All they have to do is watch and laugh. Kirk is very interactive when performing for Girl Scouts, and they certainly know how to appeal to their audience. The girls are always screaming with laughter and whispering to each other about outrageous costumes and silly characters. The raffles and T-shirts are also a source of excitement to the young Scouts. If Kirk were to close, many leaders and scouts who have been c! oming to see these shows for years would be very disappointed to learn a special tradition would have to end.

Printed clearly on the ticket for Girl Scout shows, is a request that each audience member bring a can of food. This simple task has worked so well, that pounds upon pounds of food have been donated to the homeless on account of Kirk’s productions.  Girl Scout leaders find it admirable and a wonderful example for their troops. The canned food drive is a great way for Girl Scouts to help service their community. Kirk wasn’t asked to start this canned food drive, but it was done anyway. Respectively, at the past few “Parent Previews” that Kirk has put on at the start of shows, a large portion of the proceeds has gone to the Breast Cancer Association. Parents are willing to pay the extra money for a seat without complaint, knowing they are helping researches take one step closer to the cure for breast cancer. Again, Kirk wasn’t forced ! to make these donations. Yet, as a part of the community, they have willingly given food and money to those who need it most.

Conclusively, Kirk Community Center is much more than a place to act. It’s a place of friendships, laughter, self-improvement, and fun. Overall, Kirk is a wonderful asset to the community and should remain open in hopes of future entertainment and service for children, parents, and friends.

Dawn Gaffney


At 9:53 PM, Blogger Michaela said...

OMG!!! I love kirk! I'd like to give a shout out to all my friends at kirk! If you love to act, sing, dance, or just love being in front of people, YPT is the place for you!

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Samantha said...

Omg i have been apart of kirk for 4 years and I just have a blast when i am there!I love kirk


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