WATERVILLE — A group of youths with a passion for theater and social justice is now managing a 60-seat theater at The Center downtown under the umbrella of Waterville Creates!.

The youth-driven Out & Allied Youth Theatre will not only produce its own performances, but also offer a learning lab to teach acting, technical work and other theater-related activities. They also will rent the theater out to other groups while offering assistance with productions.

“Out & Allied Youth Theatre is a troupe of artists who use theater to tell their stories, build community and address issues of social justice,” said Mark Fairman, executive director of Out & Allied.

While the goal is to provide a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth, young people of all ages and gender identities are welcome, Fairman said.

“We manage the theater for Waterville Creates!, and that includes marketing and negotiating contracts with people who want to use the space for performances and rehearsals,” Fairman said. “We’d love to get the word out about that, and if people need it, we will supply technicians.”

“It’s a wonderful, intimate place for people doing any kind of performance,” Fairman said.


Studio 93, a black box theater, is in the former ACAT performing space on the first floor of The Center at 93 Main St. The two-story theater many years ago housed part of Sterns Department Store and includes a winding staircase in a large backstage area.

Members cleaned the theater space, removing debris and clearing out a storage room they use as a meeting room. They gave the room a fresh coat of blue paint with lavender trim, installed a new, tiled floor, added comfortable chairs and made it their own.

“It’s a great place to be, and it is a safe place you can talk about anything,” said troupe member Katie Howes, 18. “It’s a great place to express yourself — be who you are. I find it awesome.”

Fairman, Howes and other members met Thursday morning in their meeting room and led a tour of the theater space, which includes a dressing room, costume and makeup space and balcony for lighting and sound.

Howes, who graduated last year from Erskine Academy, has been involved in theater since kindergarten, acting, doing technical work, writing, filming and serving as speech captain. Fairman considers her his unofficial second-in-command, as she is organized and likes to plan. Howes has written monologues and plans to read them at a future performance at the theater. She also will help teach youths aspects of theater.

Out & Allied includes a youth theater learning laboratory for children of all ages. Partners in the laboratory include Waterville Opera House, Colby College’s education program, the college’s Center for the Arts and Humanities, and its Theater and Dance Program. Powder & Wig, Colby’s student-run theater, also is a partner as are local schools.


Nate Rudy, executive director of Waterville Creates!, said Out & Allied and the Opera House were given a $10,000 grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation to develop the laboratory and rental theater. The group also is in its second year of a three-year grant from the Mukti Fund which is dedicated to funding Out & Allied theater projects.

Rudy stopped at the meeting room Thursday to say hello to Fairman and welcome the troupe.

“This is a great partnership for us, and we’re just happy you are making good use of the space,” Rudy said. “I can’t wait to see your first performance. It’s what this building is for, to provide venues for arts and culture and bring the community in for conversations that hopefully will happen in this space around inclusion and access and diversity. I’m thrilled.”

An opening reception to celebrate the theater will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Theater games, tours, refreshments and an introduction to the troupe are scheduled. Members said they welcome anyone to attend.


Colby junior Lily Fernald, 20, is Out & Allied’s artistic director and has worked closely with Fairman on the effort since last September. Fernald has a double major in education and theater and dance. She graduated from Falmouth High School in 2013.


“I’m really interested in using theater to teach, and not necessarily in a classroom or at a public school,” said Fernald, who worked last summer at Taproot Theatre Company in Seattle. “I love nonprofit work and I love doing theater, and that’s how I got started in theater.”

Fernald has experience in acting, technical work including lighting and sound design, stage managing, directing and acting. Through the Colby Center for Arts & Humanities, Out & Allied will offer a summer theater camp for youth that will employ Fernald and another summer intern, Colby sophomore Kelsey Book. Another part-time intern and research associate, Mattie Wyndham, who developed an independent major in social justice and the arts, will be sponsored by Colby’s education department. Social justice will be the theme of the work.

“We’re going to have two- or three-week sessions focusing on theater, telling stories and devising work, and perform something by the end of it,” Fernald said. “We’ll be teaching theater but also devising work — creating work based on stuff we do. We will assemble a show of some sort.”

Out & Allied member Isaac Woods, 20, will play a large role in not only the operation of the theater, but also the teaching aspect. Woods worked two-and-a-half years at Waterville Opera House after graduating from Waterville Senior High School. At the Opera House, he did set construction and general stagehand work. He learned light board work from a lighting designer from New York and did master electrician and program board work, hung lights, and did assistant lighting design.

“I very much enjoy theater. I get a huge kick out of it,” Woods said.

Rory Romero, 20, a 2015 Waterville Senior High School graduate, started acting at Mount Merici Elementary School when she was a child. She performed Shakespeare and acted in other roles and returned to acting years later, in 2011, and took part in school workshops. She plans to help teach youths acting as part of Out & Allied.


“I really enjoy acting,” said Romero, who studies early childhood education at Kennebec Valley Community College. “I haven’t gotten to do as much as I’d like to do.”

She said youths wanting to get involved in the theater group will find it a warm and welcoming venue.

“It’s a wonderful place for people to be,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.