Founded in 2003, AACT’s purpose, as outlined in our mission statement, “is to provide an opportunity for education and participation in the world of theater, and present a quality, entertaining and thought-provoking theater experience.”
Our mission as a community endeavor emphasizes education and participation, which can be readily seen in our AACT Academy and Young Performers’ programs—initiatives geared specifically to enrich children and youth’s creativity and artistic inquiry. Held each summer since 2006, AACT’s summer intensive offers children and youth a one- to two-week sprint of creative and critical thought—sharpening their acting, interpersonal, and artistic skills. This camp is affordable for most children and youth in the area and is also accompanied by a needs-based scholarship program for those who may be disadvantaged, but still want to participate in, engage with, and learn from our AACT mentors and their peers.
AACT offers two full-length children and youth shows annually, with other smaller performances dotting the calendar throughout the year. AACT’s children and youth outreach program, dubbed the Young Performers’ program, includes musicals, dramas, comedies, and classics—all crafted to engage, educate, and stimulate young minds. Throughout AACT’s tenure in the area, the Young Performers’ program has produced numerous children’s theatre performances, such as:
- Beauty and the Beast, a local spin on the classic fairy tale (2007)
- Fiddler on the Roof Jr. (2009)
- Seussical Jr. (2010)
- Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids (2012)
- Into the Woods (2012)
- A Successor to the Throne (2013)
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014)
- Never Cry Wolf (2014)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2015)
- Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat (2015)
- Peter Pan (2016)
- Tut!Tut! A BeatByBeat Musical (2016)
- Cheaper By the Dozen (2017)
- The Jungle Book (2017)
“Both as actors and audience, theatre allows kids to get into other people’s situations, thoughts, and struggles that they might otherwise not consider or have access to. In the rehearsal and performance process, cast members find a place where they can take risks safely. Shy or anxious students often find a voice when they aren’t putting themselves on the line, but rather inhabiting a character. We have seen many kids transition from quiet and uncertain bystanders into brave and confident citizens of the world through their years at AACT.”
~ AACT parent and volunteer
True to our mission, AACT prides itself on encouraging critical thought and engaging our audiences, a staple of the organization since our onset as a theatrical troupe. AACT’s first theatrical production, performed in early 2004, was an adaptation of John Patrick’s The Curious Savage, a comedic stab at the misconceptions regarding sanity and the prevalence of ill-conceived prestige awarded to public figures.
In 2005, AACT produced Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, an interestingly comedic take on Alzheimer’s disease, which challenged the actors’ theatrical chops through minimal stage setup and demanding roles and also fostered a discussion of the disease between health experts and the community at large. During production, AACT invited experts on the disease to give talks on Alzheimer’s, offering the community the option to participate in an honest dialogue with professionals, ask questions, and learn more about the disease. At the time, AACT creative director Stas Czerkawski said it best when interviewed by the newspaper Auburn-Opelika News, “All theater groups try to have a community outreach component to what they’re doing. This is a good way for us to educate and entertain.”
More recently, in 2013, AACT staged a production of Lorraine Hansberry’s acclaimed play A Raisin in the Sun, a domestic tragedy that examines African American heritage, cultural assimilation and uplift, and the myriad of socio-political challenges faced by African Americans on a routine basis.