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About Youth Education

Skills for Theatre…Skills for Life

KIDSTAGE, a creative youth development program, uses theater arts to build critical life skills in each participant and promote positive identity development. In KIDSTAGE classes and rehearsals, our techniques encourage youth voice and leadership, creativity, collaboration, problem solving, concentration, public speaking, and creating a community of belonging. While some students are on a path to Broadway, all students are improving their futures and increasing self-confidence through involvement in KIDSTAGE and our Technical Theatre Program (TTP).

Village Theatre’s Youth Education programs serve thousands of young people throughout the Puget Sound. Available to all regardless of the ability to pay, the programs provide healthy out-of-school time activities and stimulate learning through the arts in schools.  We work to address disparities that disproportionatley affect specific youth populations through training, hiring and programming. Village Theatre KIDSTAGE is committed to creating a pro-equity environment to ensure a safe and brave space to explore and grow.

Are you a former KIDSTAGE kid? We want to hear from you! Fill out the KIDSTAGE alumni form to stay in touch.

KIDSTAGE Leadership

Photo of Kati Nickerson, Director of Youth Education & Community Outreach

Kati Nickerson
Director of Youth Education & Community Outreach

Since 1998, Kati has been the driving force of what is now one of the largest and most in-depth theater arts education programs for youth in the country. Over 1 million people in King and Snohomish County have been impacted by Village Theatre’s youth education program since she took the helm. Over half are young people from 3 to 20. Today the programs serve thousands of youth each year throughout the region, with dedicated theater facilities in both Issaquah and Everett. Kati leads through her philosophy of “Skills for Theatre …Skills for Life” and her innovative leadership ensures that staff and theater artists are skilled at providing not only exceptional arts education but also 21st Century, and social emotional skills. Kati developed free outreach programs including in-school workshops, Pay What You Will performances, sensory friendly performances, and Summer theatre in the Wetmore Plaza in Everett. Kati has the second longest tenure on the Executive staff of Village and is an active leader in equity, diversity and inclusion efforts for the program and organization. She served on Everett’s Cultural Commission, and in 2014 received the Everett Mayors Arts Award for her achievements and contributions to theater education.

Photo of Suzie Cameron Bixler, Associate Director of Youth Education

Suzie Cameron Bixler
Associate Director of Youth Education

Suzie enthusiastically joined Village Theatre in 2003, days after leaving high tech corporate life to follow her lifetime passion of working in a theater. She has directed The Little MermaidAidaThe Little Mermaid Jr.Seussical Jr.13High School MusicalThe Secret GardenLes Misérables, and the 2005 Last Exit for KIDSTAGE. In her seventeen-year tenure at KIDSTAGE she has produced over eighty shows for KIDSTAGE including several original musicals. Suzie has been a driving force behind the KIDSTAGE Originals Program and is passionate about youth voice and encouraging future writers, composers, directors, and designers. She spearheaded the youth program quality initiative over the past seven years leading the efforts in incorporating Social Emotional Learning skills into the KIDSTAGE curriculum. She is passionate about developing future leaders both on stage and off and has been an active partner in equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts for the program. Suzie has a B.A. in theatre arts from Western Washington University with concentrations in both directing and acting. Her directing credits include Crimes of the HeartSteel MagnoliasA Shayna MaidelRoyal Gambit, and The Firebugs. She has performed at Intiman, Seattle Children’s Theatre, the late Pioneer Square Theatre, and was in the 1985 Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of Bye, Bye, Birdie.

Photo from the KIDSTAGE production of School of Rock. A young girl stands on stage with an electric base. Her hair is flying as she plays. Students behind her rock out to the sound of her music.

KIDSTAGE production of School of Rock

Facts & Figures

VILLAGE THEATRE’S YOUTH EDUCATION PROGRAMS BY THE NUMBERS

  • 11 Full-scale KIDSTAGE productions annually
  • 250 Students in Institute and Pathway to Institute
  • 5000 Students on average per year involved in some way, not including youth audience
  • 1200 Students in KIDSTAGE Summer Camps
  • 460 Students in KIDSTAGE productions
  • 41,945 Total youth who experienced Village Theatre and Youth Education programs including youth audiences.
  • 26% Percentage of students in programs receiving free programs, tickets, or financial assistance.
  • 33% Percentage of KIDSTAGE students receiving free programs or financial assistance
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