New YouTheatre director wants to share her love of theatre
January 31, 2012
Jamie Wilcox stepped into the position of the Egyptian Theatre’s YouTheatre director last month.
Wilcox, who grew up in Sandy, was visiting family after getting her master’s degree in applied theatre from the University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama when she heard there was an opening in Park City.
"It was kind of weird, because I already knew what was here and who was where and didn’t think I would get the kind of job I wanted in Utah, but it happened," Wilcox said. "It all pieced together naturally."
Wilcox isn’t a stranger to the YouTheatre program. She was involved with the program’s joint venture between the University of Utah and the Egyptian Theatre in 2010, as a teacher, just before she went to graduate school.
Working with the children was a highlight for Wilcox.
"I decided I wanted to teach more, rather than become a starving actress," she said. "So, I went to graduate school to learn to teach."
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From an early age, Wilcox had a love for the dramatic.
"I always wanted to act as a little girl and saw myself, as kids do, with wanting to be in certain roles on TV," she said. "I plotted my life through literary characters, too. I wanted to be ‘Anne of Green Gables.’"
Still, Wilcox didn’t start acting until she was in college, after a push from a friend.
"I had a neighbor who did commercials and was in the process of moving to Los Angeles, and I told him how great it was that he was following his dream," she said. "When I was done telling him how wonderful and amazing it was, he looked at me and said, ‘You want to act, don’t you?’
"I said yes, but told him that I didn’t think I was pretty or tall enough and that I thought I was far too normal to act," Wilcox said with a laugh. "He told me to go to the community college and take some classes."
After the first class, Wilcox was hooked.
"I would come home from school feeling so great, because everyone was so supportive," she said. "I felt like I could be myself and the comfort of that helped me realize that I never before had a safe place to be myself.
"So, when I started teaching, I realized I could give kids a similar safe place for them to really be themselves," she said.
As the new Egyptian Theatre YouTheatre director, Wilcox has made some goals along those lines.
"First and foremost, I want to stay here to help grow this program to the best it can be," she said. "It’s a little bit challenging coming in after so many changes over the past couple of years, but I’m committed to be here, and I know my vision for what I want to do with the program here, doesn’t happen overnight. I know it will take a couple of years to get the program to where we all want it to be."
Secondly, Wilcox wants the program to be an inclusive place where the kids will want to return to each year.
"That takes a certain level of consistency in the teaching methods, the quality of the teachers and the quality of the productions that we’re going to be putting on," she said. "Hand in hand with that is communication. I want to find out what kinds of programs they want to produce, and make sure I can deliver."
Wilcox also wants to have an open line of communication with the parents.
"Kids up here are very busy and they have a lot going on for them, so, I want to make sure our program gives and feeds them what it is they really need and are hungry for," she explained. "I want the YouTheatre kids to find a voice and hopefully produce material that is a reflection of their thoughts and feelings about their community, state and world.
"I also want to give older students some real resume- and skill-building, paid work here at the theatre, to broaden their horizons," she said.
Wilcox has already been working with principals and teachers in the Park City School district in preparation for the YouTheatre’s after-school programs that will start on Feb. 6. (See accompanying schedule).
"I want to build some strong alliances with Park City School District and all the schools and in the arts community," she said. "I think the whole community will benefit from that."