Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival

SETC’s Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival is a non-competitive exhibition of theatre produced for young audiences by companies during the annual SETC Convention and is open to all SETC Convention attendees as well as children from schools surrounding the convention’s host city.

2020 Festival Lineup

Performances will take place as part of the 71st annual SETC Convention in Louisville, KY.

Festival Date: Thurs., Feb. 27, 2020
Location: Kentucky International Convention Center

Thank you to everyone who applied to perform in the 2020 Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival. We’re pleased to announce three performances presented by Theatre ETC!, Birmingham Children’s Theatre and InnOVATION Arts Academy. Check back for the performance schedule.


For more information, please contact:

Riley Braem

Theatre for Youth Division Chair
Phone: 931-561-8755
Email Riley Braem

Laura Byland

Division Vice-Chair & Festival Chair
Phone: 405-550-1946
Email Laura Byland

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The Odyssey

Presented by Theatre ETC! (Huntington, WV)

Adapted by R. N. Sandberg from Homer’s epic poem
The Odyssey is the story not only of Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War but of his son Telemachus’ path to find out who he truly is. As Odysseus encounters the one-eyed Cyclops, Telemachus struggles to keep their home safe from greedy suitors. As Odysseus battles raging seas and the sly Circe, Telemachus himself sets sail to find his father. And on their parallel journeys, Odysseus and Telemachus encounter monsters and seas so treacherous that they are challenged to their limits. Will they survive to return home? If they do, what kind of heroes will they have become?

Marshall University’s Theatre ETC! (Educational Touring Company), now in their 6th season, produces stage adaptations of literary classics for students and educators across southern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Their goal is to provide an imaginative, immersive, educational theatre experience in under-served and impoverished communities. Recognizing that the two greatest barriers for attending live performances are travel and cost, they’ve eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming travel expenses by performing in school cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums and auditoriums.

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Huck Finn

Presented by Birmingham Children’s Theatre (Birmingham, AL)

by Eric Schmiedl; based on Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
Two runaways – a boy and an enslaved man – team up for adventure on the mighty Mississippi! Huckleberry Finn finds freedom on the run, out-thinking colorful con-men, narrowly escaping a family feud, and even passing as a girl as he and Jim make their way down the “big river.” On the journey, they learn lessons of integrity, dignity and friendship. At turns dramatic then hilarious, two performers and one storytelling troubadour play a dozen characters in this timeless tale, uniquely adapted from Mark Twain’s classic American novel.

Birmingham Children’s Theatre exists to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of children through the magic of professional theatre. One of the nation’s oldest and largest professional theatre companies for young audiences, BCT produces high-quality, professional theatrical entertainment and curriculum-relevant arts education experiences for children and families. Established in 1947, BCT has touched the lives of over twelve million students throughout its seven-decade history. In 2018-2019, BCT offered more than 250 in-house performances and 200 tour performances that reached over 570 K-12 schools and served over 140,000 youth and families.

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Once on This Island JR

Presented by InnOVATION Arts Academy (Lexington, KY)

by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
“Once on This Island JR” is the authorized young performer’s edition of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s story of “two worlds, never meant to meet,” where the power of love is proven to conquer the power of death — a lesson well told for generations to come. “Once on This Island JR” is an engaging, Caribbean-flavored musical set on an unnamed island in the French Antilles. The story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love above her class, is told around a fire by a group of Caribbean peasants as they wait out a terrible storm. “Once on This Island JR” uses the tradition of storytelling to pass down history, values and insight from one generation to the next. The result is a lesson to be passed along for generations to come. With the gods looking over her, Ti Moune’s journey of unrequited love comes to prove that the power of love is stronger than the power of death. Ti Moune’s courage and spirit prove that love can withstand the storm, cross the Earth, and survive even in the face of death.

InnOVATION Arts Academy is a performing arts program serving children ages 3-18 in the Lexington, KY area. InnOVATION aims to provide the highest-quality of performing arts training and performance experiences to students by hiring teachers who are passionate about their craft and highly trained and experienced. InnOVATION Arts Academy offers advanced, conservatory-style training to students who wish to become musical theatre “triple threats.” The program also offers beginner and intermediate training, classes that engage the broader community, summer camps, and in-school programming. InnOVATION Arts Academy produces 3-5 full scale musicals a year. Their goal is to nurture the creative spirit in children by: providing high quality performing arts training; encouraging the development of individual expression, leadership capacity, teamwork, and dynamic communication skills; supporting and developing arts professionals; and showcasing the arts in the community.

2020 Festival Respondents

It’s an honor to welcome Michael J. Bobbitt and Vivian Snipes as respondents to the 2020 festival. We look forward to their insights and expertise!

Michael J. Bobbitt

Artistic Director, New Repertory Theatre

Bio and photo coming soon!

Vivian R. Snipes

Artistic Director, Lexington Children’s Theatre

Bio and photo coming soon!

More About the Festival

The festival strives to highlight, promote and enhance the quality of theatre for young audiences by presenting professional and/or amateur productions that embrace the broadest possible range of genres and styles, and by subsequent adjudication of those productions.

The festival brings together various forms of theatre for youth, including:

  • Professional theatre companies
  • Young people performing for young audiences
  • College students learning the challenge of performing for young audiences
  • New plays and proven classics

Reaching Out: The festival provides the opportunity for thousands of young people to experience the magic of live theatre, allows the performing companies and playwrights to receive critical feedback, and gives TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) producers and performers a forum in which to share their craft. It is a rare and valuable opportunity to help them continue their growth as artists and producing institutions.

Background: Over the last quarter century, the Theatre for Youth Invitational Festival has showcased more than one hundred works to more than 25,000 young people. As part of the annual SETC Convention, the festival brings together Artist and Audience, Playwright and Publisher, Performer and Producer to explore the infinite world of Theatre for Youth and to work with and get feedback from some of this country’s preeminent figures in the field.

“The festival allows new plays to be performed in a safe and nurturing environment and helps promote the growth of these new works, which eventually touch and enrich the lives of thousands of children across the country.”

 Kenton Yeager, Past Chair, Theatre for Youth Division

What the Children Have to Say