Hawaii’s ACT refocuses program to better suit needs of Soldiers, families

| August 25, 2011 | 0 Comments
Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, auditions for the ACT’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” Aug. 22.

Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, auditions for the ACT’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” Aug. 22.

Story and Photo by
Stephanie Bryant
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Hawaii’s Army Community Theatre, or ACT, is gearing up for a transition from its current program to return its focus to Soldiers and their family members.

Richardson Theatre on Fort Shafter has functioned as the home for ACT since 1987, but the building closed in April for renovations.

“(The closure allowed) us to take a step back and look at the program,” said Brett Harwood, managing/artistic director of ACT. “Now, since (the theater) is shut down anyways, we decided to re-evaluate whom it is we are serving, how we are serving them and how we can more effectively serve our target audience.”

The size of Richardson Theatre and the pressure to fill more than 800 seats caused the program to get off track from its main goal of focusing on Soldiers and their families, Harwood explained.

He added, ACT is important in a lot of people’s hearts, and therefore, the theater program is not going away. He explained that ACT is just refocusing its program and trying to adapt to the needs of the Army community, as the community’s needs have changed while the nation has been fighting in two wars.

Currently, ACT will be functioning out of Tropics Recreation Center on Schofield Barracks. This move will help facilitate an increase in Soldier and family member participation in the theater. The move will allow admission ticket costs to be reduced as well, said Ron Locklar, chief, Community Recreation Division; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

ACT is trying to increase military participation.

“The move to Schofield will make (ACT) smaller and more accessible, since a larger number of Soldiers work and reside on Schofield,” Locklar said.

The smaller productions will take much of the competitive edge out of the program.

“We are still inviting members of the community to come and augment our forces,” said Harwood. “The community participation makes the productions possible, especially while our forces are still heavily deployed.”

Both Locklar and Harwood agree that the transition will more deeply impact the people participating in ACT rather than audience members. Locklar said the benefits of being a part of the theater community are extensive, including developing skills and a sense of belonging to the community, as well as teamwork.

“That’s really why Army theater is there,” Locklar said, “to reach out and help people develop skills and give them an opportunity to participate. Friendships are formed, and it turns into a kind of support group.”

The program will stick to four productions a year, but in addition, Harwood will be working with DFWMR’s Child, Youth and School Services to put on workshops and programs where Soldiers’ children can more actively participate in the theater.

Harwood said the refocusing concept is exciting because ACT is ultimately here to serve Soldiers.

“It’s neat to be able to take a program — which in its day had great success and was nationally recognized — and be able to take that and rework it and retool it to the specific needs of our Soldier community right now,” Harwood said.

The first production of fiscal year 2012 will be “The Rocky Horror Show,” which is a cult-classic, rock ’n’ roll musical, in which the audience is encouraged to participate. The production is geared toward an adult audience; therefore, no one under the age of 18 will be granted admission.

“‘Rocky Horror Show’ offers the audience something different,” Harwood said. “It is very different from the traditional, old-fashioned, big musical productions the theater is used to putting on.”

Army Community Theatre

Catch “The Rocky Horror Show” at the Tropics Recreation Center. Seven performances are scheduled, Oct. 14-31. For more information, call 655-5698.



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