You might recognize Ryan as Stelvin from last season’s production of Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical, or Harry, the loveable Yeti in the world premiere production of The Abominables that closed in October, 2017. Ryan’s journey to CTC’s stage started 15 years ago in his 5th grade classroom, when Maria Asp, now CTC’s Neighborhood Bridges Program Director, started visiting his classroom for two hours a week. They read fairytales and folktales, and then the students performed scenes from the stories they just heard. At the end of the year, Ryan and his classmates had the chance to perform plays they wrote themselves on CTC’s UnitedHealth Group stage during the annual Crossing Bridges Festival. “For us, standing on a stage like that meant everything,” says Ryan. “I remember being awestruck looking out at a big theater for the first time.”
This is what you make possible when you donate to Children’s Theatre Company. With your support, the Neighborhood Bridges Program that introduced Ryan and so many other kids to theatre now serves nearly 1,000 students a year. For some of them, like Ryan, these experiences spark a love of theatre that lasts a lifetime, and truly change their lives. “Bridges saved my life. Theatre saved my life. Storytelling continues to save my life,” says Ryan.
He started to take school in a different stride and credits the space that theatre created for him for the change. He made new friends, came back to CTC for Theatre Arts Training classes in the summers, and was performing in shows outside of school by the time he was in 8th grade. Now he tells stories to the next generation of artists and leaders as a professional actor. “I would have never found that interest if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to express myself, and tell a story, through the Bridges Program.”
Theatre teaches us to learn to exercise the muscle of empathy, to listen to one another, and to find our inner creativity. And that can make all the difference. “Theatre has done so much for me,” says Ryan, who says his experience with CTC set him on a path that made him “physically, mentally, and emotionally” stronger.
Your gift helps us share experiences that educate, challenge and inspire, and ultimately changes lives. In Ryan’s words, “When people come together in a theater and put themselves aside to collectively sit with strangers or neighbors and give themselves over to another story, I think it truly has the potential to change the world.”