Summer Youth Theatre Ensemble

Our Summer Youth Theatre Ensemble (SYTE) is a free 4-week summer theatre arts program open to high school youth. Each summer company creates, rehearses, and performs an original play on our mainstage.

Fun. New friends. Creativity. Sharing ideas. Celebrating expression.
Lunch and Snacks!

SYTE youth engage in an interactive rehearsal process packed full of theatre exercises and games, ensemble-building activities, movement, discussions, and playwriting techniques designed to cultivate creative- and life-skills. We collaborate with young actors and creative writers to build a play that is their own and explores and expresses their lives and perspectives. While the performance is important, what the ensemble learn in class and rehearsals is our priority.

“SYTE was the most magical experience of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it.” – SYTE Ensemble member

While SYTE is a theatre-focused experience, we welcome high school-aged young adults of all skill levels, talents, and backgrounds. We don’t require tons of theatre experience – only ideas, openness, and enthusiasm to tell a story with each other. If you love to think, act, write, create, and express and would like to have a fun, creative, and imaginative summer, we’d love to meet you! Eligibility includes rising 9th graders and just-graduated seniors. Registration for each summer’s ensemble opens in late spring.

Inclusion, diversity, kindness and respect are artistic superpowers in our ensemble. Empathy and sharing are gifts of theatre.

SYTE’s mission is to empower KC teens in a safe and supportive studio through self-expression, confidence, collaboration, and the joy of creativity, with professional actors as our teaching and mentoring team. Every young person involved is vital in helping to shape the experience.

“Every summer, our youth company ignite our stage and remind us of the value and meaning of individuality, creativity and expressing oneself. Thinking, talking, sharing, moving, experimenting, discovering, writing, shaping it into a whole piece and just simply having fun along the way. What they do and share is what it’s all about.” – Melinda McCrary, Director of Education and Community Programming

Past Ensembles

Summer 2022

Roommates: A New Sitcom
Roommates: A New Sitcom premiered the final weekend of July on the Spencer Stage to over 170 patrons. Our stellar Summer Youth Theatre Ensemble – full of bright, compassionate and creative young actors – used improvisation, discussion, devising, playwriting, brainstorming and card storming as they ushered their eerie and energetic original play from ideas and discoveries to the page and then on to performance.

As stars of a new sitcom, the characters had a lot to learn when the apartment tv started glowing and they were transported into it for a wild journey through television genres and wacky challenge,s led by the enigmatic and maybe-evil Jessica van Dessica. Earning the path back to “set” included a very loud and fun gig as the rock band, Glowing Devil Pickles, and some honest revelations about friendship, emotional strength and trust. In four weeks, our ensemble explored and learned techniques of storytelling and acting and built together this joyful play , rich with imagination, humor and theatricality.

Summer 2021

Are you listening?
Twelve young people gather for their tenth high school reunion. As they reacquaint, sparks fly as memories of deep hurts they shared as a group when not listened to by parents and teachers as well as those they caused to each other are visited in flashback. New identities are unfurled. Old wounds and secrets are spoken aloud and hilarities are recalled as they join forces again to understand a time when it seemed no one was listening or even cared.

As each of the former classmates makes a reunion toast, we learn of their struggle, then and now, to be heard— as they navigate a complex world while coming of age. With the power of confidence and the perspective of time on their side, can they find the unity they were always seeking and wanted the world to hear?

Summer 2020

Disconnected

The cast of DISCONNECTED, drawn by Teaching Artist Khalif J. Gillett.
The cast of DISCONNECTED, drawn by Teaching Artist Khalif J. Gillett.

Trusting the arts to be healing, joyful and resilient, our 4th annual Summer Youth Theatre Ensemble assembled in a Zoom studio in late June 2020 with 13 talented young adults from all over the city. In league with our terrific and innovative teaching team and undaunted by the challenges of a pandemic summer, they collaborated to devise, rehearse and perform their original play, Disconnected, on video.

What happens when 13 strangers find themselves trapped in a Zoom room together? It’s meta within meta.

Summer 2019

At Home
A thoughtful original play, At Home examined family relationships.

Share to...