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Breaking the Barriers
by:Marie Antoinette Sun

As anxious teenage girls and boys scurried to and fro backstage, as tension mounted, and as breathing became difficult, the band started up and the stage went aglow. The actors were all seemingly nervous and the pool of silent chatter proved very unnerving, but the show went on, as aspirations became realities.

“We all have dreams, this is just one of many I have” said sixteen year old William Rosario an actor at the Amas Theater Academy as he braced himself for his last performance of ‘Big Harp’, during the closing show of the Robber Bride Groom. As the moments drew nearer to the final blackout of the performance the intensity of each student was clearly visible. The Robber Bride Groom was just one of many plays that were put together and produced by Amas Musical Theatre, and that forcibly left a lasting impact on its audience.

This past week Rosario, along with nineteen other academy members prepared to give their last performance of the year, which proved to be very emotional. Young Rosario had been grappling with the idea of acting since he could hardly remember. However he admits that despite his passion he felt the need to strive to reach higher heights, and now envisioned a career in being a chef.

Amas pushes its students to hone their acting and public speaking skills and stops nowhere until perfection is achieved. It has recruited teens from everywhere and with different passions and goals, however all with the same interest, theatrical expression. “To succeed in this business you need to have a strong backbone and deal with a lot,” said eighteen-year-old Damion Brown. In order to be involved in theatre you need to love what you do and to stop at nothing to get what you desire, a concept that Amas fosters.

Founded over 35 years ago Amas Musical Theater has impacted inner-city students such as Rosario and Brown in a multitude of positive ways, one being that it serves as a retreat from the harmful and at times tempting city streets. It has become a forum of self-expression and development. Yet above all it continues to unite young teenagers from all walks of life and racial backgrounds. It has inspired many students to think, to dream, and to take a daring chance and leap, Amas has harbored true talent and helped it to flourish and grow. It has given a chance to anyone willing and with potential talent, never once did it turn the willing away. The academy is a very secure, comfortable and safe environment for expression, and despite everything it will continue to fulfill its mission.

Before Amas, actors were cast based on their color and ethnicity; talent had no influence on casting. Typically, Caucasians were assigned predominately white roles making clear the racial subjugation and division that existed amongst people. However the founder Rosetta Lenoire, widely known for her portrayal of Mother Winslow on the critically acclaimed series Family Matters sought to break new grounds by forming a multi ethnic non-profit theater organization. Sadly this profound woman died last year of old age.

“Even though Mrs. Lenoire is no longer with us, we continue to live out her dream; we have kept Amas alive” stated producing director Donna Trinkoff. Despite all adversities that may have presented themselves; 35 years later Amas Musical Theater continues to foster the concept of non -traditional casting.


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