One Beckley mom is starting an amateur theater group for kids and teens, and she’s asking interested community members to come join the troupe and volunteer their talents.
Gayle Oaks said that when Theatre West Virginia closed and began its liquidating assets, her 7-year-old son, Thomas, was extremely disappointed.
Thomas had taken classes with TWV and had just gotten his music and part from the Musical Theatre II class when he learned about the closure.
“This is his showboat moment,” explained Oaks. “It’s what he loves to do.
“There’s nothing in the area for kids in theater,” she added. “Now, there’s nothing.”
Oaks, who has a background in college theater, said that with TWV closed, she revived an idea she’d had when it had partially shut down several years ago.
She’d start an amateur theater group to allow kids to learn about stage production from running lights and sound to doing sets and costumes to performing on-stage.
Oaks has already found a stage to use — in the Family Life Center on Johnstown Road — and has had several parents express interest.
“I would run it similar to what TWV was doing,” she explained, adding that it is an amateur, not a professional, group. “It’s not TWV, it’s just something simple for the kids, to teach them not to be afraid, to give them confidence, give them everything from stage acting to lighting.”
Oaks plans to produce three plays a year — a fall, spring and Christmas production.
The theater group will meet for 90 minutes once a week during the school year and will also meet for rehearsals during productions, she said.
“There’s more to theater than just what people see on-stage,” said Oaks. “It’s the confidence to say, ‘Hey, I’m a part of that.’
“So I want everything from lighting to acting to be child-run,” she said.
Oaks added that adult volunteers will be needed to teach production skills from lighting and sound to costume and sewing and set design to acting and make-up.
“I want this to be a community thing,” she explained. “It’s just a bunch of people coming together to fulfill this need in the community.”
Oaks said TWV staff would be happily welcomed as volunteers.
The meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Family Life Center, 607 Johnstown Road, Beckley.
The group is open for kids in grades Kindergarten through 12, she added.
More information is available by contacting Oaks at gyoaks(at)hotmail.com or 304-763-1553.