by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Selma Arts Center in Selma, CA has been providing the Valley with some awesome theatre (check our review of Bring It On), and now it has started a brand new theatre adventure-they have created a special theatre company just for teens. We spoke with Selma Arts Council Member Adrian Oceguera about the company and their first show, School of Rock, which opens next week. She is also the director of School of Rock.
KRL: What is your background in theatre?
Adrian: Though I have performed as a musician on different stages, I have only been active in the local theater community for three years. My first performance was the Selma Arts Center production, Young Frankenstein. From there, my interest exploded and here I am! I took a seat on the Selma Arts Council in July of 2016 and have been volunteering my time at the Selma Arts Center ever since, primarily helping with sound engineering and design.
KRL: Is there a company name?
Adrian: Right now, we are in the process of giving the company a name. I have been using the moniker “Teen Theater Company,” but what we’ve really done is given the actors of our premiere show the opportunity to submit their ideas for a company name.
KRL: Where did the idea come from to start a teen company, and how long have you been working toward that?
Adrian: To backtrack a little, I got involved in theatre because my teenage niece was involved in a production. I figured it would be something that we could do together. As I started to acclimate to the theatre world and meet new people, I began to realize that a lot of talent was getting lost in the “age gap”—or the age range where you’re maybe too old for a lead in a junior company show, but too young and inexperienced to carry the weight of a main stage production. That’s initially where the idea for a company that tailors specifically to teenage actors came from. Admittedly, this was hardly a new idea, as there are other companies around that do similar work, but it wasn’t something we had readily available in Selma, CA.
KRL: What is the goal and purpose of having a teen specific company?
Adrian: I really wanted to give the young actors of our community something to call their own, something that would compete with all their other interests, and something they could definitely be proud of. Our first priority will always be creating a safe space for these performers to grow and figure out exactly who they are as young actors.
Second, we strive to educate and prepare our actors for situations they might encounter in the adult theatre community. Our actors rehearse on a schedule similar to that of our main stage productions, and are held accountable to do their own research and rehearsing at home. We also have workshops built into the rehearsal process so that the actors can learn in a safe, promoting environment.
Finally, we wanted to put the young actors in a production that had all the workings of a main stage production. So far the actors have gained experience with multiple choreographers, vocal (music) directors, and (stage) directors. Also, they’ve had the opportunity to work with a live band, which is pretty unique!
KRL: Are there open auditions?
Adrian: The auditions for this company will always be open to anyone who wishes to hone their skills and be a part of something special.
KRL: What ages specifically are involved?
Adrian: We are primarily focused on the ages of 13 to 18, though some exceptions have been made when we are in need of younger actors. These exceptions are almost always accompanied with pre-requisites to ensure that the actor is prepared well enough to take the next step in their career.
KRL: Is there a cost to join the company?
Adrian: For each production there will be a cost-effective tuition and costuming fee to help with the costs of the production, and there will always be the opportunity for fundraising and/or scholarships.
KRL: What is your first show, and why did you pick that title?
Adrian: Our first show is School of Rock: The Musical, opening August 3! We chose this show because we believed it would catch the attention of some of our young performers, as well as it being a premiere around the valley.
KRL: Performance dates, times, and tickets?
Adrian: School of Rock performs on the following dates:
Friday, August, 3 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 4 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, August 5 at 2 p.m.
Thursday, August, 9 at 7 p.m. (BOGO)
Friday, August 10 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 11 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
KRL: How many shows will you be doing a year?
Adrian: We are going to initially try for two musicals a year and possibly a play in between.
KRL: What show is next?
Adrian: Ha-ha! If only we knew! At this point, we are making sure to get through School of Rock with pristine quality. I can assure you though, that whatever we choose, it will appeal to young adult actors.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Adrian: A company like this can only survive with the support of the community. To that, I’d like to thank the rest of the Selma Arts Council for making this idea a possibility. We as a company will always need actors, crew members, support staff, and most importantly—major sponsors. We are constantly looking for sponsors and donations to help make this program a success!
Tickets for School of Rock can be purchased on their website or at the door.