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Local Youth to Put on Play at Pomona College This Weekend

Every summer, there’s a bit more drama on campus than usual. From the end of June through July, 50 local children ages 11 to 14 attend the Claremont School of Theatre Art (CSTA), a five-week program that provides classes on acting, movement and voice, and technical theater elements like props, sets and costumes.

Each year, the program culminates with a performance. This year, the students will be performing Tales of Canterbury Thursday, July 24, through Sunday, July 27, at the Virginia Princehouse Allen Theatre at Pomona’s Seaver Theatre Complex. The play is a modern adaptation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by playwright Kristina Sexton.

The CSTA program is now in its 15th year and originally began when The Curtain Raisers of the Claremont Colleges, an organization devoted to encouraging volunteer activities to support the Claremont Colleges’ theatre programs, wanted to offer something for local young people. Pomona came on as a partner; each year, the CSTA program takes place in the Seaver Complex.

“This is my eighth year as the producer for this program, and it’s awesome to bring these young people in from the community, and to give them a creative outlet,” says Cathy Seaman, program director for the Department of Theatre and Dance. “So we’re building not only skills, but self-esteem and confidence in oneself and kind of centering them and grounding them in self image.”

Another aspect of the program that Seaman is proud of is its instructors, who are often recent graduates of the Theatre Department, which covers all five of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges. This year, Tim Gillette ’03 is teaching the technical theater class and his wife, Maggie Gillette, a Pitzer graduate, is the technical director. Andrew Doyle ’02 from Pitzer is also working with the program this year. “The biggest perk for me is to see these young people who have gained skills and knowledge in the theater and now they move to the practical realm,” says Seaman. “They come on board with an attitude [of wanting] to give back, and they’re just phenomenal instructors.”

Performances of Tales of Canterbury will take place on Thursday, July 24, at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 25, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 26, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and on Sunday, July 27, at 2 p.m. The box office will open 30 minutes prior to show time, but you can also reserve tickets by calling the reservation hotline at (909) 607-4396. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for children ages two to twelve.