The Cleveland Youth Theater Project will debut in Slavic Village later this month at the Magalen Gallery. The organization was founded by Emma Shepard in 2017 in hopes of creating affordable educational opportunities in the performing arts.
To begin the program, Shepard will offer two intro to improv courses — one for 3rd to 5th graders, and one for 6th to 9th graders. The programs last six weeks and cost just $90, or $15 per class, but Shepard says she's happy to make alternate payment arrangements if the price is still too high for some.
Shepard, who moved to Cleveland from Kent two years ago, had looked at the youth theater scene around Cleveland and thought there was a need for more affordable classes. "There are class offerings for children's theater, and while there are great programs, they can be really expensive," said Shepard. "There's really nothing around Slavic Village and we wanted to start some classes that are more affordable."
She hopes that students, in addition to learning acting skills, will walk away with lessons on other aspects of life.
"From experience, I was shy and self-conscious and struggled with bullying and I started taking acting classes when I was really young, and aside from fine-tuning acting skills, it helped with confidence and a sense of self-worth," she said. "It was a great social outlet and really helped build morale."
No previous skill is required. According to their website
, "the program ends with a performance open to family and friends so students can gain experience performing in front of an audience and parents get to see what their child has learned."
All classes are held at The Magalen Gallery, located at 5203 Fleet Avenue.