Theatre Is The Best Place In The World To Raise A Child
Bo Thorp’s Story written by Liz Thompson
Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director Olga “Bo” Thorp first stepped onto a stage in an elementary school play in Columbia, South Carolina and hasn’t left it since. Since graduating from Carolina Playmakers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bo has starred, directed, choreographed, produced, painted sets and, by the sheer force of will and personality, grown a community theatre, a wonderful marriage and two sons of incredible heart, intelligence and compassion.
After arriving to Fayetteville in 1960, Bo joined others in the community to create the Fayetteville Little Theatre. Over the years, FLT – thanks to Bo’s leadership, wonderful supporters, and committed community members – evolved into Cape Fear Regional Theatre. CFRT now features a growing staff, over $1 million budget, and produces plays of stunning national quality. Through it all, providing theatre education to youth remained a top priority for Bo and the Theatre.
Bo began teaching theatre classes for children in the 1960s when she developed a unique system of teaming professional artists and technicians with amateurs from our community. As a result, CFRT has become a training ground, and many amateurs have gone on to theatre careers regionally and beyond, including award-winning children’s author Mary Pope Osborne, Broadway performers Suzanne Ishee, Grady Bowman, Natasha Williams, and producer Suzanne Evans.
If you were to ask Bo why she felt the need to start youth education programs – she’ll have decades of stories and experiences to share. She’ll tell you that in all her years, she has not come across a child that has not been attracted to the stage. Maybe they aren’t ready to perform yet, but they are curious and drawn the aura and energy of the stage. She’ll tell you that children need to perform. In her experience, children learn by doing and performing can help them find their identity. She’ll tell you that it teaches responsibility. She says that her sons attribute much of their success to having grown up in the theatre because as a performer, you have a job and “if you don’t do your job, the performance is going to be bad.” Lastly, she’ll tell you that it builds confidence. She will share a story of an 8 year old girl who, during her first audition ever, ran off the stage crying because she was terrified to be in front of a crowd. Later, that same little girl was chosen to perform on Broadway for The Lion King!
Year after year, funding for fine arts in public school systems is threatened resulting in many children nationwide missing out on much needed opportunities to express themselves creatively, connect with classic literature through live performances, and benefit from experiences only theatre can provide. But, because of Bo’s vision for youth education and outreach at Cape Fear Regional Theatre, children of the Fayetteville, NC area don’t have to miss out. CFRT provides theatre education classes through The Studio to children as young as 3 years old to build skills in areas such as Creative Dramatics, Acting, Musical Theatre, Stage Combat, Playwriting, and more. CFRT offers summer camp for children ages 6-19 each year – although, sign up early as they sell out quickly! CFRT partners with area schools to offer Student Matinees. And, CFRT’s Classic Theatre Series provides free tickets to over 1500 students in Cumberland County to inspire, educate, and enlighten students through the power of live theatre.
Bo will tell you that she believes that “the theatre is the best place in the world to raise a child!” and we couldn’t agree more!
CFRT has a lot of big goals in 2016, but meeting the increasing demand and growing costs for these youth education and outreach programs is one of our greatest challenges. Your gift of $25, or any amount, can help us increase our resources, strengthen our programs, and meet the needs of more children in 2016! Please consider donating today!