Chelsea Watson (Jonathan Edwards, 2017) enjoys performing and teaches theater to New Haven children. Read more to hear about what Chelsea has done with Yale Children’s Theater, her impact and more!
College: Jonathon Edwards 2017Major: Environmental StudiesHometown: Riverside, CT
HC: Tell us about your extracurricular interests.
CW: I’m an environmental studies major, so I do a few of environmental groups on campus – Fossil Free Yale (our campus’ fossil fuel divestment group) Yale Student Environmental Coalition, and I work for the Office of Sustainability. Aside from environmental things, I am very involved in Children’s Theater! YCT (Yale Children’s Theater) has two main channels to get involved: workshops and performances. The workshops are free (though we accept donations) and are for local kids in New Haven. We try to make the classes available for children whose schools do not have strong arts or other extracurricular programs, this way kids who might not normally have the opportunity can learn about try their hand at acting and participate in a final performance. I teach a class for kids in K-2nd grade, but we have workshops for any grade up through 8th. The other side of YCT is the performances, which happen four times a year. These shows are written, produced, directed and performed by Yale Students for kids in the New Haven and surrounding communities. They are tons of fun and are very low time commitment.
HC: How long have you been participating in Children’s Theater for? What inspired you to join and what impact you hope to make.
CW: I did theater in high school, and when I came to Yale I had considered getting involved again. I found myself overwhelmed by the time commitment and intensity of the theater scene here though, and I decided it would be too much to dive into my freshman year. Then I found out about YCT, and thought Hey! I like kids, and I like theater! So why not try it? It seemed super low pressure and just a fun activity to do. I have been involved since freshman fall when I acted in the first performance of the year. After a semester I applied to coordinate a workshop, and ended up co-coordinating the K-2nd grade workshop on Saturday mornings. The performances are a lot of fun, but the classes are definitely when you feel like you have the most impact. It’s wonderful to work with the same group of kids for eight weeks and watch them go from shy and silent to confident and creative kids. During the last class we have them put on a show for their parents, and regardless of how the show goes (there’s always a few lines missed and plenty of stage fright) the kids are always grinning ear to ear when they take their final bow. The parents are equally excited and it’s just a wonderful, rewarding process to be a part of.
HC: Tell us about a regular performance.
CW: Performing in a YCT show is one of my favorite things I do at Yale. The plays are always very interactive, and we try to make them educational as well. The kids love the shows and many families come regularly whenever we have a performance. One of the best parts is that the kids treat us like celebs. At the end of each show we sit down on stage and the children bring up their programs and ask for autographs. It’s adorable.
HC: Why did you choose Yale?
CW: Well, Yale is just a pretty awesome school! I really liked the environmental program and am very interested in the Yale Forestry School, but of course there was a lot more that factored into the decision. Aside from academics, the people here just seemed super interesting and fun! I don’t know, I just got a great vibe from the campus and I still do. It’s a fun and inspiring place and we’re all very lucky to have the opportunity to be here.