The new Commonwealth Theatre Center logo.
By Kathi E. B. Ellis
Entire contents copyright © 2016 by Kathi E. B. Ellis. All rights reserved
The long-awaited renaming of the merged theatre companies Walden Theatre and Blue Apple Players was announced May 19. The Nancy Niles Sexton Stage was abuzz with students, parents, and members of the theatre community as Charlie Sexton and Paul Lenzi stood at the podium to make the announcement.
Reflecting on both companies’ forty-year commitment to theatre education, Sexton articulated the mutually compatible strengths of the two organizations, whose specific brands will still be honored in the newly-identified Commonwealth Theatre Center. Walden Theatre Conservatory will continue to train individual theatre artists and to present youth theatre productions. Blue Apple Outreach will focus on the extensive residency and workshop programming going into classrooms throughout Jefferson County and beyond.
Lenzi revealed the multi-colored new logo of the Commonwealth Theatre Center and spoke compellingly about the organizations’ drive to “empower young people” through theatre over the decades – a legacy that will continue to grow and flourish with this public recognition of a merger that has been nurtured over years of planning and negotiation.
Present and former presidents of the Fund for the Arts, Christen Boone and Barbara Sexton Smith, also spoke in celebration of the occasion. Nancy Niles Sexton, Walden Theatre founder, and Paul Lenzi and Geraldine Ann Snyder, Blue Apple Players founders, were honored in a champagne toast at the end of the announcement.
And then, it was back to business: the stage was turned over again to the business of producing theatre, with a performance of Henry VI, Part 3, at 7:30p.m.
Kathi E.B. Ellis is an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society an a member of Lincoln Center and DirectorsLabChicago. She has attended the La MaMa Directing Symposium in Umbria, Italy and is featured in Southern Artisty, an online registry of outstanding southern artists. Her directing work has been recognized with nominations for South Florida theatre’s Carbonell Award. Locally, Kathi is a member of Looking for Lilith Theatre Company, a founding principal of StageLab theatre training studio, and part of ShoeString Productions, an informal producing collective. She has written book reviews and articles for Southern Theatre, the quarterly publication of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and was a contributing writer for JCPS’ textbook for the 11th grade Arts and Humanities survey course and for YouthArts Tapestry, a Kentucky Arts Council publication.