Johns Creek Chamber
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Local theater dances for all

Performing Arts North launches summer programs

Actors Cate Lightburn and Ethan Smith rehearse for Beth Henly’s “Crimes of Passion,” an Anton Chekov spin-off. (click for larger version)

Two Dancing Goat staff members pin up a banner displaying the theater’s summer camp programs. (click for larger version)
June 18, 2013
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The classics return to the stage this summer, as the Dancing Goat Theatre, incorporated with Performing Arts North, offers acting classes, youth camps and professional performances to both amateurs and aficionados.

The community theater, 10700 State Bridge Road, Suite 6 in Johns Creek, educates students and adults of all ages in classical repertoire using modern versions and creative approaches to adapt old works, said Margarita Moldovan, president and executive director of Performing Arts North at the Dancing Goat Theatre.

"If it's supposed to be a Shakespeare and superheroes camp and ends up being a Shakespeare and monsters camp, that's okay," Moldovan said.

Before opening the theater three years ago, Moldovan worked with local high school students, teaching and directing Shakespeare plays with co-founders Daniel Glenn and Amelia Bahr.

"Most of the schools around here don't get an opportunity to do the classics, so that's what we did and that's what we love," Moldovan said. "We're an educational theater group; we are all about literature and theater."

The Goat's summer programs include morning camps and afternoon shows targeting students ages 3 to 15, as well as a Shakespeare series featuring "The Tempest" in July, Moldovan said.

Director of Youth Programs Rebecca Martell says she has seen the theater grow tremendously since she first became involved as a student rehearsing in Moldovan's basement.

"It was so cool because no other theater around introduces high-schoolers to Shakespeare," Martell said. "Shakespeare's always thought of as this elitist kind of theater – to have somebody tell me 'you should try this, it's something new and creative' personally made me really love theater."

Along with day activities, Martell directs an after-school program — "the herd." The herd refers to Dancing Goat's association of Performance Art North's acronym, PAN, with the Greek god of theatrical criticism; a mythological half-man, half-goat.

Despite the playhouse's variety of programs and creative approach to teaching classical drama, finding the resources to finance amateur and professional shows proves a constant struggle, Moldovan said.

"It's really difficult. All theater groups have problems," she said. "I've found that people are very generous when they can be."

The nonprofit theater relies on donations and grants from the city of Johns Creek to keep its doors open, Moldovan said.

Money from ticket sales and classes pay the bills, however, Moldovan along with others on staff are technically volunteers.

"For the most part, we're just winging it," Moldovan said. "We just tie ropes together and hope it'll hold."

The Goat kicked off June with "Crimes of the Heart" by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henly, a southern Gothic comedy based off Anton Chekov's "Three Sisters." The play runs until June 30.

In early August, Moldovan plans to collaborate with co-founder Daniel Glenn.

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