It was the week of the rain—one of them anyway—and I set forth to find TACA in action. That was not hard to do since TACA
(The Arts Community Alliance) is everywhere, funding not only mainline arts,
but also small cells of creativity that energize the atmosphere and make possible the underpinnings of civilized society, so fragile, so hard to build yet absurdly easy to destroy.
One thing became apparent: all roads lead back, it seems, to Sammons Center for the Arts, everybody’s home at one time or another,
and to Moody Performance Hall, a veritable Jack that has found an indispensable place in the midst of giants and beanstalks. The goal of the groups at Sammons is to perform at Moody.
Back to those rainy afternoons…Rosaura Cruz has just moved her Junior Players into High Point Center on Greenville when I track her down.
In small but almost tidy offices, boxes barely unpacked, with Megan Carfa, Phillip Slay,
and Abby Stigler at work on development, programs, and marketing respectively, the executive director—Cruz herself—is sipping tea to ward off the effects of allergies.
They slow her hardly at all, though. Brightly animated, she describes her life at Junior Players, starting at Bryan Adams High School, when Junior Players introduced her to Shakespeare.
Imbibing the Bard, she acted in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing,
and Twelfth Night, and then played both Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It, alternating with another student, night after night. S
he fell in love with theater and pursued it, along with criminal justice, at the University of North Texas.
Today Cruz leads Junior Players into schools all over the city, recruiting teachers to take drama, dance, percussion, graphic design, playwriting,
even culinary arts to kids who otherwise might never know them and suffer,
as a result, an impoverishment of the mind that, given a chance, thrives on the elegance of true invention.
Her work doesn’t stop in the classroom. Junior Players mounts a musical every winter in Moody Hall, with American Idiot coming up in January.
That very afternoon she will send out notices to 60 students culled from 200 auditions in 10 schools. Called to El Centro College, they will compete for 26 spots in the ensemble.
That’s only part of the picture. There’s also Playwrights Under Progress (PUP) to prepare for.
That’s when Junior Players and Kitchen Dog Theater present a reading of six plays chosen from 70 or 80 submissions.
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