The Sturgis Youth Theatre, a program of the University of Northern Iowa Department of Theatre, was founded in 1999 by Gretta Berghammer, Professor of Theatre.
The philosophy of the Sturgis Youth Theatre is that all young people should be provided with an opportunity to explore and experience all facets of theatre production and performance within an environment that is safe, supportive and educational. To that end, the Sturgis Youth Theatre welcomes any young person who wishes to contribute in meaningful ways to the exploration of theatre in an environment that is noncompetitive, inclusive, and process based, and which places the development of the whole student first and foremost in all of its programming and activities.
Throughout the academic months, the Sturgis Youth Theatre offers classes for young people in many areas of theatre production and performance. While the schedule and content varies form semester to semester, most classes are offered on Sunday afternoons, some meeting for several weeks, and others offered as a one-time opportunity.
Sturgis Youth Theatre produces at least one play each year. Productions offered during the academic year features theatre students from UNI. Weekday matinee performances for schools and evening public performances are held in the Strayer-Wood Theatre at UNI. The summer production is entirely produced and performed by youth, under the supervision of the SYT staff. Family, friends, and community are invited to public performances in July.
In 2011 the Sturgis Youth Theatre expanded in order to offer programming for students on the autism Spectrum. Spectrum Theatre is offered during the academic year on a variety of Sunday afternoons. The program, which is open to any student, is specifically designed to provide drama experiences that best support the development of pretend play, social interaction and non-verbal communication. Each session is carefully designed to enhance creative expression of spectrum youth while supporting the profile marker needs of each participant.
In the summer, youth from both programs work collaboratively on a summer fun production.