Competition in Barrington cuts into town’s theater program

Enrollment has dropped with the Barrington Community Theater program since the addition of Arts Alive! and All Children's Theater in town. Enrollment has dropped with the Barrington Community Theater program since the addition of Arts Alive! and All Children's Theater in town.

Enrollment has dropped with the Barrington Community Theater program since the addition of Arts Alive! and All Children's Theater in town.

Enrollment has dropped with the Barrington Community Theater program since the addition of Arts Alive! and All Children’s Theater in town.

A few years back, 50 or 60 kids would fill the summer sessions for  Barrington Community Theater. This year, 12 youngsters have signed up for the first summer session, and nine are registered for the second.
“I would love to bump the numbers up a bit,” said Reid Eighme, the program’s director. “We’re not looking for tons and tons of kids. … For the summer session, 25 would be my goal, but we need at least 20 per session.”
Mr. Eighme said he can recall the days when dozens of young actors would register for the town-sponsored summer program which is called Barrington Enrichment Summer Theater (BEST).
But as other theater programs surfaced, like Arts Alive! and All Children’s Theater, the Barrington Community Theater officials started seeing their numbers dip. Their fear is that a continued drop in registration may ultimately threaten the existence of the program.
“The extra competition is great, but it’s pulling numbers from us,” Mr. Eighme said, adding that All Children’s Theater operates out of St. Andrew’s School in Barrington.
“We just don’t want to get left in the dust.”
The director said there are some specific reasons why parents should consider registering their children for Barrington Community Theater, but none more important than the program’s overall approach to productions. Unlike some other companies, said Mr. Eighme, Barrington Community Theater casts many one-act shows throughout the course of a session. Having that many plays allows directors to cast different students in varying roles.
“We go into each session with twice as many roles as we have kids,” Mr. Eighme said. “That way everybody is guaranteed to be in at least two plays. Everybody who signs up gets a larger role and a smaller role. It’s important that everybody gets their time on stage to shine and also important that kids understand how to support one another. You have to learn to step back and help others.”
The director said other children’s companies will face the challenge of casting more than 100 youngsters in a single show, and “end up with a few kids with a lot of lines, and a lot of kids with a few lines.”
“Their shows are big and beautiful, please don’t take anything away from the quality of their productions. … We emphasize stage time and personal growth. It’s not just about the final product, it’s about the journey there…”
Mr. Eighme said Barrington Community Theater also offers children the opportunity to work with other actors of varying ages — while some companies cast within a certain grade level, Barrington Community Theater will cast a 9 or 10 year-old “shoulder-to-shoulder” with a high school student.
“They definitely learn from one another … All of these kids have so much experience. They’re really able to help one another,” Mr. Eighme said.
The director said the silver lining to the program’s current dilemma is the increased attention to the performance arts in Barrington. He said there are a variety of offerings for young actors in Barrington, which is a step in the right direction.

Theater program details

• WHAT: The Barrington Enrichment Summer Theater program is a Town of Barrington summer theater camp which will run two separate 3-week sessions. Each session will include at least 6 plays with 60 roles for kids ages 8 to 18. On average, full day participants act in three plays per 3-week session. Each show will rehearse for one hour a day, with a final performance at the end of the session.
• WORKSHOPS: While kids are not rehearsing they are immersed in performance workshops including but not limited to improvisation, stage combat, vocalization, movement for the actor, playwriting, and characterization.
• WHEN: Session I begins July 1; shows on Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20. Session II begins July 22; shows on Friday, Aug. 9 and Saturday, Aug. 10. Camp runs Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
• HALF-DAYS: Campers can also choose to do our half-day option and come for either the morning or afternoon only. Morning campers arrive at 8 and leave at 11. Afternoon campers arrive at noon and leave at 3 as camp ends. Half-day campers can only be guaranteed to be in one play. Half-day campers are included in all morning or afternoon activities and workshops.
• COSTS: Price per session — Full-day: $575 for 3 weeks; Half-day: $300 for 3 weeks (8 to 11 or 12 to 3); One week option: $150
• WHERE: Barrington High School.
• REGISTRATION: Forms are now available at the town manager’s office at the Barrington Town Hall.
• CONTACT: Reid Eighme at Reid.CommunityTheater@yahoo.com

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