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Lafayette Theatre Academy performs at national festival

The Lafayette Theatre Academy (LTA) was selected as one of six youth companies to perform at America’s National Community Theatre Festival (AACTFest 2019) from June 18 – 23. Eleven students between the ages of 12 and 15 shared a sensitive topic with festival attendees at the historic Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, PA.  The students presented Lockdown by Douglas Craven, which depicts the reality of school shootings from within the classroom.

“There are so many wonderful benefits that come from the theatrical arts for youth,” said Amy McDow, the director of Lockdown and LTA.  “We are always seeking new and inventive opportunities to share with our students. When the invitation to attend this amazing festival was extended, we could not pass it up. It was a challenge we gladly accepted, knowing that there would be moments of learning, experience and culture that we could not offer locally.”

Six youth productions traveled from Washington, Germany, Indiana, Iowa and Texas to perform at the national festival and were adjudicated by three theatre professionals. Kristy Meanor, one of the judges and the executive director of the Wetumpka Depot Players, offered personal feedback for the cast during a special session following LTA’s performance.  Cast member Walker Kemp explained that “the judges were really supportive of everyone in the youth division and it was helpful to be able to discuss our show afterwards to better understand the comments we received.” 

In addition to their performance, LTA students took part in YouthFEST and the festival’s youth leadership conference. They also experienced educational workshops, design and monologue competitions, social events, sightseeing, networking opportunities and an end-of-the-week awards ceremony and celebration. Chaperone Morgan Ayres recognized the value of the support shown among the youth groups who attended the festival.  

“Seeing the friendships that developed among all of the youth participants was extraordinary. I think that our students really benefitted from meeting other teens with similar artistic interests.” 

Although the youth performances were not competitive, each of the performances were celebrated at the awards ceremony.  Two cast members, Garner Dorminy and Lily Barr, received special recognitions for their achievement in acting.  This was Barr’s first speaking role in a production.

“I really enjoyed extending my interest and experience in acting with such a wonderful group of people,” she said. 

Dorminy performs often locally and is currently playing the title character in LTA’s Bye Bye Birdie, with performances on July 13 and 14 at the LTC Black Box Theatre.  

AACTFest is a celebration of theatre and a learning experience for those who attend. AACT helps theatres thrive and provides networking, resources and support for America’s theatres, representing the interests of more than 7,000 theaters across the United States and in U.S. Military Services overseas.  Through AACT, the Lafayette Theatre Academy received a travel grant provided by the Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation that assisted in funding the overall expenses of the group’s trip.

The Lafayette Theatre Academy provides a safe and supportive environment for students, of all ages, to express their individuality and creativity while gaining the knowledge and developing the skills necessary to succeed in all areas of the theatrical arts.  

LTA continuously develops ways for students to use their training through academy productions, weekly classes, professional instruction, community involvement, outreach programs, travel opportunities, and involvement with other performing arts organizations.  

Educational programming is available for pre-K through adult throughout the year in the LSPA building at 214 Bull Street in LaGrange.  Information is available at LSPARTS.org/lta, by emailing amcdow@lsparts.org, or by calling Amy McDow at (706) 882-9909.