CCT: A Brief Overview
Casper Children’s Theatre, Inc. was founded in August 2000 by Becky Morris & Renee Naquin who had already been teaching theatre to the youth of the Casper area for seven years. CCT is a tax-exempt 501 c(3) non-profit organization overseen by a volunteer board of directors. The staff began offering year-round classes in theatrical arts for youth ages 8-15 in cooperation with the Casper Recreation Center first at Stage III Community Theatre and then at the Casper Recreation Center and McKinley Elementary School.
In the Fall of 2001, Casper Children’s Theatre, Inc. moved to its current location at the Commissary Mall in Downtown Casper. Through the support and hard work of its patrons, local businesses and foundations, volunteers, and students, the over 6,000 square foot space was transformed into an intimate theatre designed just for young people.
Since 2001, the organization has added an adult performing troupe that travels to schools, a teen program, a program for young children 4-7, and several in-school artist-in-residence programs. Its theatre classes in cooperation with the Casper Recreation Center was awarded a $10,000 grant directly from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002-2003 and was selected as the winner of the 2005 Community Innovation Award by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities. In 2002, the theatre’s Project WRAPT was funded through a $48,000 grant from the Governor’s Trust Fund for Innovative Education, this program combined technology, writing, and theatre to help children learn and retain scientific and mathematic concepts. Casper Children’s Theatre has also been nominated twice for the Governor’s Arts Award.
In the past seven years, the theatre has produced 68 full-scale productions with a total number of performances of 289. Performances have occurred at the theatre as well as sites throughout the community such as: the Casper Recreation Center, McKinley Elementary School, Westwood Elementary, Beartrap Meadow Bluegrass Festival on Casper Mountain, The Nicolaysen Art Museum, Kelly Walsh High School Auditorium, The Parkway Plaza, and The Petroleum Club of Casper. In the past seven years, the classes in cooperation with the Casper Recreation Center have put 1044 students ages 4-18 on the stage at the theatre. Last year, CCT’s new school outreach program, Destination:Drama, served another 3,110 Natrona County students through school performance tours and artists-in-residency projects!
At CCT, our mission is to teachLife Skills Through Stage Skills. Current research has shown that the discipline of theatre not only gives children a creative outlet and a positive alternative to getting involved with delinquent behavior but also increases their self-esteem, social skills, problem solving skills, language and speaking skills, ability to follow directions, memorization skills, and empathy for others. In addition, recent studies on the brain indicate that the neurobiological systems necessary for improving students’ grades include quick thinking, mental model development, task sequencing, memory, self-discipline, problem solving, and persistence. These and many other related skills are developed through dramatic arts. At CCT, we are passionate about using theatre to improve the lives of young people and to enrich the lives of everyone living in our community.