Teen Theatrical Apprentices Take Over Playhouse

On the stairs

THE ‘TASK FORCE’ Jackie Dandeneau and teen troupers of Apprentice Entertainment at Arcata Playhouse in the Old Creamery.
Photo by Zoey Gordon | Arcata Playhouse

Ula Varley
Mad River Union 

ARCATA – Let’s put on a show! Every month, about 12 creative and committed high school students do just that at the Arcata Playhouse in the Old Creamery.

With an entire professional theatre at their disposal, the students plan events, then put on and manage whatever kind of show they come up with.

Apprentice Entertainment (AE), a teen theatre management group, is led by Jacqueline (Jackie) Dandeneau, funded by Tomas Jewelry and Mia Bo (a fund of the Humboldt Area Foundation). The sponsorships eliminate the need for fees by participants.

AE meets every Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Playhouse, 1251 Ninth St.

The creative process is informal and fun. Members pull chairs from the theatre space into the lounge and plan their upcoming events amid snacks, laughter and a constant flow of ideas.

The 12 AE members – a group Dandeneau refers to as the “task force” – are from Arcata High, McKinleyville High and Northcoast Preparatory and Performing Arts Academy (NPA). From freshmen to seniors, all take on specific tasks suited to their individual abilities and preferences.

“Apprentice Entertainment has taught me how to manage a venue and promote events while being an artistic and musical inspiration,” said graphic designer and sound engineer Matt Craghead, a junior at Arcata High. He creates posters for the events and manages audio for the musical shows.

“Box Office is fun because I have always liked numbers and counting,” said Rebecca Logan, a sophomore at McKinleyville High.

Teens involved in Apprentice Entertainment get to attend all Playhouse shows at no cost in addition to going on outings to events such as Arts Alive! and theatre shows in the community. AE members made a colorful square at Pastels on the Plaza last Saturday.

The students work with Playhouse co-owners Dandeneau and David Ferney, who mentor them in event production and management.

Dandeneau describes the AE’s goal as helping young people enjoy the theatre and feel comfortable in the theatrical space. “There’s ample opportunity for kids to get involved in planning events,” she said. “Bring ideas to us.”

To keep it manageable, participation is limited to about 12 students. Vacancies open up near the end of the school year, when senior participants graduate out of the program.

Apprentice Entertainment organizes varied events every month at the Playhouse – a cabaret, talent show, variety show or even a movie night.

Attendance is typically between 50 and 80 people and other local teens are always encouraged to help out.

Upcoming events include The Rocky Horror Picture Show Nov. 1, and – calling all poets! – a poetry slam Nov. 22.

arcataplayhouse.org/teen, (707) 822-1575



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