Kids don’t faze Julie Jaster. Why, not too long ago she was one herself.
A 2015 Schalmont graduate and currently a student at Schenectady County Community College, Jaster is directing a production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” for this year’s 10th annual Helderberg Theater Festival set for the next two weekends at Indian Ladder Farms. She wrote the adaptation herself, and oversaw three weeks of rehearsals with a cast of 30 children ranging in age from 7 to 14.
“At first I thought it might be a little overwhelming,” said Jaster, who began writing the play in April. “But I’ve worked with a lot of kids before. I’ve taught summer camp for three years and I’ve worked with the Schenectady Theater for Children. I also do singing telegrams and I work at The Costumer, so I’ve had a lot of good theater jobs to get me ready for this.”
‘Helderberg Theater Festival’
WHERE: Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Road, Altamont
WHEN: Friday through Sunday and July 28-31; 4 p.m. “Treasure Island,” and 7:30 p.m., “Romeo and Juliet”
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 701-1520, www.classictheaterguild.com
For more than three years now she’s also worked with the Classic Theater Guild, which puts on the Helderberg Theater Classic.
“I’ve worked with them as an actress and a set designer,” she said. “They came to me and asked me if I wanted to direct a show, so remembering that they are the Classic Theater Guild, I picked a real classic to do. It’s timeless, and it’s something both boys and girls were excited to partake in. I am a huge Robert Louis Stevenson fan, and I’ve taken his work and gave it a twist with child humor, singing sea shanties over seas, and the search for treasure. This is going to be a silly and an exciting production.”
Jaster deleted a few scenes from Stevenson’s long text and created a few short scenes of her own to come up with an hour-long play.
“The kids have had a lot of fun working on this production, and they’ve learned the importance of teamwork and honesty, which is the main lesson of the play,” said Jaster. “It’s been a joy working with them, and I really enjoyed directing and writing for the first time.”
The Helderberg Festival’s primary production will be a different offering of Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet,” starring Russell Sage senior Katharine Dashiell and Rensselaer’s Jerred Hickey. Ed Bablin is directing the production, which will include Beatles music.
The Classic Theater Guild will hold a special performance of both plays inside the Fenimore Gallery at Proctors in Schenectady on Aug. 6. The event is serving as a fundraiser for the CTG, and tickets will be $20 per person.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]