D’Verse Theater Alliance, is a program by Island City Stage committed to introducing young people to the power and beauty of the theater arts. It is committed to empowering youth, to support the insight and resilience of youth and provide them with a safe space for creative expression to tell their own stories.
Island City Stage is working with the Oakland Park Public Library to develop a drama group designed specifically for youth and their allies. The program, dubbed D’Verse Youth Theatre, will serve teens (up to age 18) and will meet at the Ethel M. Gordon Library.
Rick Karlin is the D’Verse Youth Theatre Director. Rick has a B.A. in Education and an M.A in Gifted Education and was a public-school teacher for 30+ years, but theater has always been his passion. His first musical, “Spin Cycle” ran for three sold-out months in Chicago and was the first gay-themed musical reviewed by the mainstream press in Chicago. He has written five original musicals and 22 children’s plays.
“When I was teaching, my favorite part of the day was working with the after-school drama club,” says Karlin. “Seeing how kids can blossom and discover talents they didn’t know they had is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced. When I joined the board of Island City Stage, starting an educational outreach component was one of my top goals.”
In 2017, Karlin and designer (and Island City Stage board member) Peter Lovello volunteered their time and talent and ran a two-week drama camp at the Oakland Park Library. In two weeks, the students learned theater techniques and terminology, performed improv and rehearsed and performed an original short musical play, “Seuss on the Loose” written by Karlin.
That was followed by a three-month improv workshop in the Spring of 2018, also held at the Oakland Park Library.