Oregon Children's Theatre

Oregon Children's Theatre's mission is to advance growth, development and creativity through exceptional theater experiences.
Apr 7, 2015

2014-2015 2nd Quarter Report

Skippyjon Jones
Skippyjon Jones

Thank you for supporting Oregon Children’s Theatre!

By supporting Oregon Children’s Theatre, you are strengthening our community one child at a time. Did you know that over 120,000 children experience OCT every year? Whether it’s through field trips, in-school programs, or our free Educational Theatre Program, OCT brings the value of arts learning from classroom to stage.

Through the generosity of our supporters, Oregon Children’s Theatre has been able to provide exceptional live theater experiences for thousands of young audience members. The 2014-2015 season is off to a great start. Building on the success of our first show of the season, Ivy + Bean: The Musical, OCT presented a co-commissioned musical adaptation of another popular children’s book, Skippyjon Jones. The Spanish language woven into the script connected with audiences as they followed Skippyjon on his inventive journey.

Following the adventures of Skippyjon Jones, OCT presented the misadventures of a kid detective in Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. This hilarious world premiere production was adapted by Finegan Kruckmeyer from the popular book by Stephan Pastis.

On stage now is Schoolhouse Rock Live! This lively educational show features the toe-tapping songs of the classic Saturday morning cartoon series. Audiences of all ages have been singing along and dancing in their seats. This is grammar and civics lessons at their most fun!

As Schoolhouse Rock Live! continues to through April, we are also looking forward to the final show in our 2014-2015 season, Portland’s very own Ramona Quimby. Based on the beloved book series by Beverly Cleary, Ramona Quimby is a poignant story of a third grader who is imaginative, boisterous, at times even exasperating, but always fun.

Access to Live Theater

OCT continues to provide students from economically disadvantaged schools with ticket scholarships to ensure access that would not otherwise be possible. In the first three shows of our 2014-2015 season, 4,441 students received a full scholarship and 2,280 received partial scholarships. Here is what school and social services groups are saying about the value of attending our live shows:

"They loved the whole experience. I work in a very low-income school, and these kids don't get opportunities to go downtown, to go to an impressive theater, or to see live performances. They really were blown away by the whole experience."

"I've been attending OCT for many years. I love that you try new works and look for ideas from teachers and students for productions."

Ticket to Read: Linking Literacy to Live Theater.

To further our goal of encouraging reading and literacy, we have launched an annual initiative to provide a combination of books and tickets to students in conjunction with at least one production each year. Each $10 gift to this program will provide a ticket to an OCT show and a copy of the book from which the play is adapted to take home.

Oregon Children’s Theatre is proud to advocate a well rounded educational experience. From literacy, to creative thinking, to fostering imagination and expression, the power of live theater goes far beyond the stage. Theater has the ability to touch the hearts and minds of individuals in positive ways, which leads to a more thoughtful and compassionate society. OCT is incredibly appreciative of everyone who supports these efforts.

Thank you for the positive difference you are making in our community!

Students enthralled by live theater
Students enthralled by live theater

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Jan 6, 2015

2014-2015 1st Quarter Report

Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made
Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made

Community support for Oregon Children's Theatre helps to fund initiatives that cannot be underwritten by ticket sales or program fees alone. This includes our extensive outreach and education programs as well as our commitment to creating and premiering new works for young audiences. Your support also allows us to give young people access to great, memorable, and inspiring experiences. We believe that the art of theater has the power to change lives.

Our first production of the 2014-2014 season, Ivy + Bean, was a hit with both our school and public audiences and was a fitting start to what we are confident will be a great season.  We are now in rehearsal for our January production, Skippyjon Jones. OCT has co-commissioned this new script with our colleagues at Dallas Children's Theatre, and we've been working with the writers to incorporate Spanish language into the script to make it accessible and relevant to the many students in our audiences whose families speak Spanish at home. 

We are now refining the script and stage design for our world premiere of Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made. We were delighted to secure the rights to adapt this fun book by Stephan Pastis (the creator of the popular comic strip, Pearls before Swine) -- the story of a clueless, comically self-confident boy who fancies himself to be a world-class detective. To write the script, we commissioned Finegan Kruckemeyer, a young Australian playwright who has been making waves internationally with an innovative approach to storytelling that captivates both young and adult audience members.When an interviewer asked Finegan why it was important to write for children, his response fit OCT’s philosophy perfectly:

Because they deserve to see work which acknowledges them as astute audience members outside the plays, and worthy subjects within. Because they’re entitled to sit in a theatre and invest and reflect and laugh and challenge and agree and disagree. Because they’re rarely given the opportunity to create work themselves which will be produced, so we have an obligation to either change that or to write works with their interests (artistic, not didactic) at heart. Because it’s a demographic that really appreciates story and makes you better at it.”

Oregon Children's Theatre strives to make its performances and programming accessible to as broad an audience as possible, particularly to students and teachers from economically disadvantaged schools. Last year, 7,863 students and teachers received free tickets and 1,328 received reduced price tickets, enabling field trip opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise. To further our goal of encouraging reading and literacy, we are launching an annual initiative to provide a combination of books and tickets to students in conjunction with at least one production each year. Each $10 gift to this program will provide a ticket to an OCT show and a copy of the book from which the play is adapted to take home.

Our respect for the intelligence and curiosity of young people is also reflected in our vision of producing work that is relevant and challenging for teen audiences. This year, our Young Professionals Company will produce columbinus, a powerful and disturbing play sparked by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. The play probes the psychological warfare of alienation, hostility and social pressure that goes on in high schools across America. OCT’s Young Professionals (YP) Company is comprised of 60 teens who have been accepted into a year-long mentoring and training program. This was the first season for which we empowered the teens to select their three-show season. The group overwhelmingly voted for columbinus based on the power of its message as well as the artistic challenges of stripped-down, ensemble-based theater. Taking risks with provocative works such as this is a key element of our vision.

OCT Acting Academy
OCT Acting Academy
Summer camp at Friends of the Children
Summer camp at Friends of the Children
Jul 30, 2014

2013-14 End of Season Report

Zombie in Love
Zombie in Love

Thank you for your generous support of Oregon Children’s Theatre!

OCT closed our 2013-14 season with The Giver, Fancy Nancy, and Zombie in Love - a world premiere musical from an original script and score we commissioned. In reviewing Zombie in Love Portland Stage Reviews (by Becky Burke, 3/1/14) wrote, “I envision middle school and high school drama departments all over the country performing this musical. Everyone can relate to not fitting in, feeling like the awkward teen – OCT captured that exact feeling, and that time, and condensed it into a musical.”

Our productions were consistently recognized for their quality. OCT was honored with six Drammy Awards (Portland’s version of the Tony Awards), making OCT the second most honored organization in Portland’s 2013-14 theater season regardless of the age of the audience. The Giver earned Drammy Awards for Prop Design and Projection Design; and Zombie in Love received awards for Young Performer, Director of a Musical, Original Script, and Original Score. OCT also received three Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards: Zombie in Love and Fancy Nancy were both recognized for Young Performer, and Zombie in Love was honored as Best Original Musical.

21,000 students attended school field trip performances, and 3,900 students from economically disadvantaged schools received ticket scholarships to ensure access that would not otherwise be possible. OCT offered teachers 2 professional development workshops and 3 free preview performances that allowed them to see the play before their field trip to help with the integration of the play into their classroom plans. More than 200 teachers participated in these activities.

One of OCT’s goals is to ensure that our plays also advance curriculum-linked classroom learning for our school audiences. In addition to the professional development workshops and previews, OCT also provided resource guides with ready-to-use lesson plans that supported required curriculum across 6 subject areas and 9 grade levels (K-8). Our comprehensive surveys with teachers showed that the resource guides were valued: 96% would recommend them to their peers as a good resource, 87% said the suggested lesson plans were directly relevant to their curriculum, and 60% used the suggested lesson plans with their students either before or after their field trip. Feedback received from teachers helps demonstrate the impact of our performances and services:

“Seeing new or different presentations of ideas can help students to synthesize or express their own ideas. I think it inspires students, especially those who aren’t connecting in the classroom.”

“(The play) reinforced our experience with the book. Kids were 100% engaged and everyone, even my low readers, could participate with classroom discussions when we returned to class.”

“It is difficult to create something that fits what each school needs, but your resource guide fits the bill.”

OCT’s teacher resource guides are available for download and review at http://www.octc.org/schoolservices/resourceguides.

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