From 10 a.m., when the youth arrive, till 4 p.m. when they leave, the energy is as high as can be in the round at Near West Theatre. Whenever there is a lull, they fix it by setting the power tools aside and having a 30 second “random dance party” (including their safety glasses of course) to bring the energy back up.
These seven teens are working hard and having fun at Near West Theatre’s summer youth tech workshops, where they’ve been working on constructing sets for our summer show. The program, which started June 10, gives youth the opportunity to participate in the theater world in a way other than acting on stage. They use power tools to construct set pieces, work on lighting, help with painting, and experience other aspects of the technical side of theater. Many of them have been involved in NWT productions in one way or another previously. What they like about the tech workshop is that they can still be involved in the show without having such a large time commitment. The participants this year include both new and old faces. One thing that participant Katie Medvec likes about NWT as compared to other theaters she’s been involved with is that “it’s so family and community oriented.” “Here, we can crack jokes and have fun,” she says as she paints a prop brown with fellow participants. “It’s less about professionalism and rules and more about the process and how you get there together.”
They’re all excited for everyone to see the work they’ve been doing on July 19 when Side Show opens. Almost all of the participants will be there helping out with crew on many, if not all, of the eight performance nights. From building set pieces to painting, and even the occasional dance party, these teens picked a great way to spend their summer. — Devin Sweeney