Theater program helps fund students’ education

Dawn Einsel

The cost of living away from home can be just as high emotionally as it is financially, but the director at Porthouse Theatre has found a way to help the student artists.

The theater’s summer program allows patrons to adopt members of the cast and crew, opening up an opportunity to have a family relationship while they study abroad.

The cost of adopting a student is $300, or two for $500, and all the money raised goes directly into funds to increase the stipends for the artists. This summer alone, 52 students have been paired with an adoptive parent or family.

“I began to realize that our patrons were really interested in these young people and investing in their careers,” said Porthouse Theatre Artistic Director Terri Kent, who created the program four years ago.

The program grossed more than $10,000 in its first year, a fact that Kent attributes to an “outspoken and gregarious” group of actors who pioneered the fundraiser. The success led to all crewmembers being able to go up for adoption.

The idea came to Kent after going through the process to adopt her daughter and youngest child. She said she launched the program based on the Ohio Adoption Agency website.

The students interested in participating must fill out a short survey. Their answers translate into a profile, which is then paired with a picture and a short explanation on why they should be adopted. Patrons of the theater, as well as members of the company, can look through the profiles and chose a student for adoption.

Kent said most adoptive parents will come to performances, but many also have the students join them for picnics, dinners and other family events.

“To have that family feel to being somewhere far away from your own family is important,” said Cameron Dashiell, house manager at Porthouse Theatre and first year graduate student, who was adopted at the beginning of the season.

Company Manager Carolina Morones, a first-year graduate student, was also adopted at the end of May. Her adoptive father is a performer and mentor with the theater this summer. This goes right along with the theater’s mission, which Kent says is to allow students to work closely with seasoned professionals.

“I think it is important because I feel really connected to him as someone I admire as a teacher and an actor,” said Morones.

The cast and crew of the Porthouse Theatre will put on two more performances this summer. “The Foreigner,” a comedy, started July 1 and will run through July 17. The rock ‘n’ roll musical “Bye Bye Birdie” will run July 22 through Aug. 7.

“Unfortunately, the cost of production keeps rising and state support keeps dropping,” said Kent. “But for the past four years we have been able to bump up those salaries to at least a cost-of-living amount.”

Contact entertainment reporter Dawn Einsel at [email protected].