The recently formed “Center Stage East Bay” is about to open its doors.
“Center Stage East Bay provides mentorship to youths through inclusive community-based arts. We have established an organization of youth performers, technicians, and business-minded collaborators,” says CEO Micaelan Schreckengost, 18. “Our first production is the ‘Festival of Short Plays,’ featuring three student-written and directed plays based on the Maya Angelou quote, ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’”
The plays featured are: The Stress of Moving Day, by Sukhjanvir Grewal; My Baby Hasn't Come Home Yet, by Micaelan Schreckengost; and Tired Eyes, by Dylan Lucas.
All are invited to attend the Festival of Short Plays, which takes place on Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, both at 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 26, at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $20, and the performances take place at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore.
“The plays focus on deep topics, exploring the breaking points of humans and the agony that untold stories cause,” says Production Manager Anya Worley, 17. “Yet, while the stories may cause pain, these plays evaluate the positive potential for growth introduced by hardship. Beyond the plays' inspiring quality, we also hope to show that you are never too young to do something big.”
Doing something big came naturally to the two founders. Following Center Stage’s first board meeting last September, “The fire of inspiration was lit, and we needed a system or an organization to provide legal structure, mentors, and a nonprofit status,” Schreckengost says. “We sat down for a meeting with Kiran Guleria, Head of Education at Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC), and our wish came true.”
That wish was to provide an artistic community for youths aged 13-20 that would build up the talents of individual performers, and treat participants as human beings, not replaceable parts.
“Center Stage participants, actors and business managers alike, gain real-world skills and experience to add to their resumes or portfolios,” says Worley. “We hope to give them significant experience in the arts and business, mentoring them to improve their talent or learn how to market or do website design.
“Our overall goal however is that Center Stage participants will form lasting relationships within our family community. Theater is merely a dramatized version of life, and we hope to help our members develop in communication, relating to others, empathy, and self-confidence through genuine friendship.”
Currently, Center Stage includes 18 members who serve in business-management roles in publicity and fundraising, and as adult mentors and board members. Around 21 members are involved as production leads, actors, chaperones, and directors for the Festival of Short Plays – though there is overlap with these two groups.
“People are always welcome to join the organization in whichever of the three branches (creators, performers, and technicians) that appeal to them,” Worley says.
Upcoming productions include a comedic play in the fall, a musical in the spring, and a Festival of Short Plays each summer. In addition, Worley notes that Center Stage is offering theater workshops at the Livermore Public Library in July, and those interested may inquire at the Youth Services desk.
“As a new company, we are always seeking financial sponsorships or partnerships to support our upcoming programs,” Schreckengost says. “Potential donors can inquire on our website, email us (address below) or Kiran Guleria at LVPAC (firstname.lastname@example.org), or donate on GoFundMe (search Center Stage East Bay).”
As for the Festival of Short Plays, Center Stage is showing its chops by unflinchingly biting into powerful topics: My Baby Hasn’t Come Home Yet focuses on a young mother’s struggle with her recent miscarriage and the toll it takes on her mental health; The Stress of Moving Day shows a woman discussing with her therapist the dual misfortunes of her young son getting into a car accident, and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity; and Tired Eyes, taking place in the 1920s, depicts the dramatic romance of Harvey and Charlotte, whose love is impacted by family crime.
Adds Worley, “Through the process of putting on productions, Center Stage participants are guided and mentored to maturity by the foundation of a theatrical family.”