Footlights Theater partners with Athens City Schools

Footlights Community Theater recently announced a new partnership with Athens City Schools that provides the theater with a venue for its upcoming productions, including a stage adaptation of a children's novel this fall. Pictured from left are Athens City Schools Director of School Operations Beth Patton, ACS Assistant Superintendent of Administrative and Financial Services Serena Owsley, Athens State University Professor and Footlights Community Theater Technician Wayne McCain, FCT Stage Manager Rachel Marlowe and FCT Executive Director Kristi Kargic.

Summer will be quite the season for Footlights Community Theater, as the recently relaunched organization has a new venue, a new camp for children and a new production in the works.

Footlights relaunched last year, but without a theater of its own, local churches and McCandless Hall at Athens State University became the place to be for auditions, rehearsals and performances. Now, through a partnership with Athens City Schools, Footlights Community Theater is able to call the auditorium at the former Athens Middle School campus home.

The group has even nicknamed it "The Clinton Theater."

"We are very excited about it," said Kristi Kargic, executive director of Footlights.

The facility already has an auditorium with a stage and a band room that can be used for musical rehearsals, but there are plans to clean and fix a few things to customize the area for use by Footlights.

To that end, they're requesting volunteers to help them on Fridays in July. Volunteers can sign up on the Footlights website, https://www.footlightstheater.com.

"It doesn't have to be skilled help or volunteer work," Kargic said. "A lot of it is just elbow grease and help moving things around. We are definitely looking for some help to add to our ranks and make this beautiful."

Before the move, however, Footlights has one more venue to visit. This year's summer camp is set for June 17–27 at Athens Senior Center. The 2019 theme is reading fluency, or the ability to recognize written words automatically, read them aloud accurately and include the right expression and phrasing when reading.

"During summer months, sometimes reading fluency dips and drops, because (students) aren't reading enough," Kargic said, "and theatre specifically requires reading out loud and characterizing their voices."

The camp is open to children aged 7–15, with a cost of $200 per child. Thanks to a grant from the Dekko Foundation, limited scholarships are available for those who qualify.

To register a child for the camp or apply for a scholarship, visit the Footlights website and click on "Summer Camp" under the "Education" tab.

Once finished with camp, children are encouraged to check out auditions for Footlights' fall production, "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane," based on the children's novel by Kate DiCamillo. The award-winning book follows a rabbit made of china as he travels from one owner to another, learning some key life lessons along the way.

Auditions are 5–8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at The Clinton Theater. The production will be Footlights' "maiden voyage in the new facility," Kargic said, adding it would also be one of the first full-cast stage adaptations of the novel in the country.

Both adults and child actors are needed. Roles include an adult male who owns a doll shop, a fisherman, two dogs that will be played by child actors and a boy and girl to play owners of the doll.

Kargic said the boy who adopts Edward Tulane will need to learn harmonica, if they don't know the instrument already.

If all goes well, Kargic hopes this will be the start of several productions in The Clinton Theater at 605 S. Clinton St., Athens.