by Maren Schober
David Smith, 17, Norwich, lives and breathes theater! A recent graduate of Norwich Free Academy (NFA), David spends almost every hour of every day involved with play writing, directing and participating in his theater groups.
“My mission in life is to give teenagers a microphone, a spotlight and an audience and to provide free programs that encourage leadership and creativity. My goal is to benefit the community through art,” David tells me.
His years at NFA provided Dave with lots of theater experience. “In addtion to acting in the dramas at school,” Dave states, “This past spring I served as a general theater instructor for an after school program called A.S.P.I.R.E. This program is for the middle school youth at Kelly Middle School.”
“In August 2009, I founded the Down Stage Center Free Summer Camp at the Salvation Army in Norwich for students age nine through 18,” David continues.
“This summer I am appointed the director of the theater group which is sponsored by the Bully Busters of Norwich. Rehearsals will start up in August for a play that will be written by me and the teenagers I work with. The play will be performed Saturday night August 21 in the United Congregational Church on Broadway in Norwich.”
David started volunteering in the community when he was 12 years old and in the seventh grade. “I helped in my school’s food drives to aid the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. As my reward, I was invited to attend a speech given by Bill Clinton and sit onstage with him among other youth who helped in the relief program.”
David’s theater interest frequently take him to New York City. “I am currently the stage manager for an off-off Broadway show in NYC. It requires me to live there Monday through Wednesday the entire month of June. This is a paid job with the Emerson Theater Collaborative.”
What does David like best about doing community service?
“My favorite part of my work is that I am constantly reminded that helping others is also a way to help yourself. I was given this incredible opportunity to direct a theater group. I don’t keep the money. The money goes to charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army. I get to keep the experience of directing a show at the age of 15 and 16. I get to keep these amazing friendships with fellow artists and community enthusiasts. I am doing what I want to be doing. There is no doubt of that!”
Next year? “I am going to be attending the State University of New York in the fall for their theater conservatory to obtain a BFA in theater technology with a concentration in stage management. My dream is to own and direct my own theater that emphasizes on original, collaborative scripts.”