Champions of theatre arts in the Beaches community gathered recently for a reunion that was decades in the making.
Alumni and supporters of the Youth of the Beaches Art Guild (Y-BAG) reunited July 28 at a gala reception held at the Beaches Museum and History Park. Y-BAG was a Beaches-based nonprofit organization that offered a summer musical theatre program for youth ages 10-18. The program ran for 25 years, from 1980 to 2005.
“We actually came up with the idea in 1980 and there was really nothing for the kids at the beach as far as theatre – you had to go to town to do everything,” says Judy Hulett, who founded Y-BAG along with Jane Bull.
Hundreds of children had the opportunity to participate in summer theatre at rehearsals and productions that took place in the evening so the kids could enjoy the beach and outdoors during the day.
“We would have anywhere from 50 to 75 in each production and everybody had a role,” Bull says. “It didn’t cost them anything. Toward the end, we did start charging a $25 audition fee and that gave them a t-shirt and an ad in the program.”
Although Y-BAG eventually disbanded, it certainly wasn’t the end of Beaches-based theatre arts. The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre will this year mount its 25th season. In honor of the milestone silver anniversary, ABET board members came up with the idea for an outreach program to reunite Y-BAG alumni – now grown adults scattered across the country – for a fundraiser and celebration.
The gala was followed by a Y-BAG Alumni Cabaret Show featuring the alumni themselves presented July 29 and 30 at The Foundation Academy. It was something that, as Bull pointed out, was a reversal of roles of sorts, where children of Y-BAG alumni got to see their parents performing in a show rather than the traditional role of parents watching their child’s production.
ABET’s 25th Season
Now president of ABET’s board of directors, Hulett said she is eager for the upcoming season, which reflects the theatre’s mission to bring the excitement of live theatre to diverse audiences.
“We have an awesome 25th season,” Hulett says.
The 25th season of ABET kicks off Sept. 9 with “Merrily We Roll Along,” followed by “Macbeth,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Celebration,” “4,000 Miles,” and “The Hallelujah Girls.” Performances take place at the Adele Grage Cultural Center in Atlantic Beach.