Grae Greer grew up in Owensboro as a theatre kid. Auditioning at six years old, she was cast as a Mexican jumping bean in “Jack and The Beanstalk” with Missoula Children’s Theatre. Next, Greer began performing with Theatre Workshop of Owensboro’s productions like “Robin Hood” and “The Three Musketeers.”
“Children’s Theatre has always had a place in my heart,” states Greer, but little did she know when walking on the stage as a young child that theatre would become her life’s passion.
Creating Bluegrass Children’s Theatre has been a dream in the making since 2013 for the 24-year-old Greer. After returning to Owensboro to pursue regional theatre, Greer attended the Owensboro Public School’s Fine Arts Festival to support the fine arts programs she had enjoyed as a student in the OPS school system.
At that showcase, Greer talked to parents whose children had not been cast in local summer shows. Shocked by this information, Greer wondered if more theatre opportunities were needed for these actors and the seed of a children’s theatre, centered in Owensboro, took root.
With Greer discovering her love of the theatre as a child, she wants to promote that exhilarating experience for as many youngsters as possible. Greer’s vision is for The Bluegrass Children’s Theatre to be a company co-created by children for children.
Bluegrass Children’s Theatre is being developed to create imaginative and educational experiences by young people for young people in the community. Age criteria is established for those youth between the ages of 6 – 18 years old.
The children involved with the Bluegrass Children’s Theatre will design the sets, create the costumes, and assist in writing the scripts. “It’s a place for collaboration between all involved in the process – the children, the parents, their friends and family – everyone,” says Greer explaining her thoughts on her youth theatre.
Greer realizes that many young people are engaged in other after school activities and school and homework demands can be high. So Greer says productions will have short rehearsal periods, only five days, and longer performance runs. Greer plans to have a three-production season and the availability of weekly private lessons at affordable rates.
Another goal is to host a five-day theatre camp during school breaks once the Bluegrass Children’s Theatre has become established.
Recognizing that outreach is important, the Bluegrass Children’s Theatre is hoping to touch as many children and families as possible. The premise behind the concept of children’s theatre is to introduce little ones to live productions with the characters being played by young people and holding performances for their peers. Confidence and poise are often learned on stage, which also builds self-esteem. In building character, Greer wants “a little one to see a performance and say, ‘Hey, if they have the courage to do that, so can I!’”
Greer states, “We are encouraging empathy, communication, and tolerance with each production. Being a touring company, our goal is to make theatre as accessible as possible. We will be traveling to different locations around Owensboro. Each public production will be free, autism-friendly, and handicap accessible.”
As our community grows, more access to arts and entertainment are needed, as Grae learned at the Fine Arts Festival. Theatre embraces everyone, and with the start of the Bluegrass Children’s Theatre, Greer’s dream is becoming a reality.
An upcoming production of “Dracula” will be touring in October 2018. To find out about auditions for all the productions, go to www.facebook.com/BluegrassChildrensTheatre.