Friday, November 4, 2016.
Ann-Marie Pereth still remembers the impact of children’s theater on her childhood.
“When you don’t come from privilege, you just figure things out haphazardly,” the Las Vegas native says. “You don’t know how you figured things out until you’re older and look back and think, ‘Thank God someone took an interest in me, or I wouldn’t be where I am today.’”
This remains a top reason the professional director, choreographer and teacher has dedicated herself to improving theater opportunities in Southern Nevada, such as opening an alternative theater and training local children in the performing arts.
A Teaching Artist
Pereth’s favorite efforts include working as a teaching artist for the past four years with Disney Musicals in Schools through The Smith Center.
Initially funded by the Walt Disney Corporation and now by the Elaine P. Wynn and Family Foundation, the program assigns professional artists to help local schools develop sustainable theater programs and put on their first production.
Currently working with Arturo Cambeiro Elementary School to put on “The Jungle Book KIDS,” Pereth recognizes children’s transformations as they experience their first production, with many students building self-esteem and learning to express themselves.
This often leads to better performance in other subjects, she adds.
“(This program) is taking kids who are often not from wealthy families, who don’t have as many opportunities as other children, and shining a light on the arts and how they crack open the creative side of the brain,” Pereth says.
Creating a New Theater Company
Pereth’s own call to create has never diminished.
When she saw a need in Las Vegas for edgy new plays featuring local performers, she founded a new alternative theater: A Public Fit Theatre Company.
“I wanted to find the best possible actors the city could provide and give them work,” she says.
Starting with actors reading plays at her parents’ house, the company eventually went public, with Pereth raising funds to put on high-caliber shows.
The company has already earned several Las Vegas Valley Theatre Awards.
“Each time we’ve produced a show, we’ve created a real, quality work that people are hungering for,” she says.
Directing many of the shows, Pereth selects critically acclaimed plays not often produced in Las Vegas.
The newest show, “When the Rain Stops Falling,” has received standing ovations each night, she says. Following the emotional journey of a family over four generations, the show runs through November 13. Learn more at: http://www.apublicfit.org/shop/.
“It takes a massive village,” Pereth says of putting on each production. “We have a lot of people doing a lot of things in order to create quality story. It’s endless.”
If productions weren’t enough, A Public Fit has also partnered with Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts to provide after-school programs training high school students on putting on theatrical works.
“Everybody needs an opportunity to grow,” Pereth says. “Oftentimes high school students go into theater because they need attention, but that’s not sustainable. What is sustainable is teaching them to become artists.”
More to Come
Her next production already planned, Pereth believes passionately in every project.
When she doubts herself, she reminds herself of that.
“I always come out the other side saying, ‘I must continue to do this, because this is what I love and what I need to do, and I’m succeeding,” she says.
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