Katie Barnes

Katie Barnes

Education Director/Front of House Manager – Goshen Theater 

Published Feb. 2024

The Goshen Theater is a Community Centerpiece

Katie Barnes, Education Director at the Goshen Theater, and the City of Goshen are supporting performing arts and theater students—young and old—in unique and meaningful ways

At one of our camps for the Goshen Theater Drama Club I was having a conversation with some of of our young participants about the city and how we feel so supported with our efforts here at the theater, and I’ll never forget—one of the kids said I don’t think I’ll ever move away from Goshen.

That really struck me, and shocked me, to hear a young kid say something like that, to have this very clear awareness of how unique a place Goshen really is.

As an actor, I’ve been blessed to have contracts that have taken me to a lot of different places; I’ve toured and I’ve seen different cities and communities, and Goshen is really top-notch when it comes to involvement and support for its performing artists and, overall, for its entire community of artists.

There is support for both youth and adults and there are many opportunities to get involved in the performing arts, whether it’s acting or improv classes; it’s all very accessible for people in this community and I think that’s one of the things that makes Goshen—and the Goshen Theater—so unique.

So much so, that even young kids can tell that this community is special in the way it supports the arts. To hear young kids talk about wanting to stay in Goshen and help build upon the support of their city; that’s pretty far from common.

Finding her way to the Maple City

I have a BFA in Musical Theater from Missouri State University, and after I graduated Chicago was my home base. I worked professionally throughout the Midwest; I had a contract as a teaching artist with a company based out of Minnesota called Prairie Fire Children’s Theater, and then I accepted a Camp Director position with the Round Barn Theater in nearby Nappanee.

After a few seasons I returned to Chicago for a contract at the Royal George Theater for Waist Watchers the Musical, featuring Martha Wash, and after that run I was going to come to Goshen for the Goshen Theater’s first summer camp in 2020. Just as we began to plan for the camp, the pandemic shut everything down and we adjusted and we ended up going virtual for that first camp.

Every morning participants would have to log in at different times to meet with different instructors. We’d have technical materials delivered to camp participants so they could do their work from home; we’d work on vocals and choreography through virtual meetings; we’d have kids practicing their dance moves the best they could in their kitchens at home.

Even though we had to adapt and conduct everything online, that first summer camp went so well.

I wasn’t really surprised because I believe kids are resilient and can do anything if they’re given permission, but it definitely was a good experience and I came back in 2021 for the camp’s second year. Then later in 2021 I became the Front of House Manager at the theater and eventually I began working as the education director, as well.

Goshen Theater Drama Club

Young participants in the 2023 Goshen Theater Drama Club march in a parade through Downtown Goshen. 

Kids are more than capable

Typically, our three-week summer camp through the Goshen Theater Drama Club is for kids ages 8 to 15, and one thing that is unique about the camp is that we offer much more than just acting classes. There is improv involved, kids can write their own pieces, we include a dance and choreography section, and we offer technincal theater learning. From singing, dancing, and acting—to technical theater design—students can explore all aspects of the performing arts.

That means if we have a participant who is not so much interested in acting or performing, that’s not an issue—kids can be involved in learning the technical aspects of theater such as lighting, sound, costume and makeup, sound cues, props, and set building.

At the end of the three week summer camp, when we actually put on a production, the great thing about it is that the kids actually run the production. They have friends and family in the audience and it’s just such a great feeling to mentor the kids to belive in themselves, and to believe they can accomplish big things. And they get a great feeling of satisfaction from putting on the show at the end of camp.

The centerpiece to a bright future

One thing I love about being a part of the Goshen Theater is that the community is so in tune with what the theater means to the city. Ever since the theater was restored, work continues to be done to solidify its status as a centerpiece of the community.

From our drama club to our summer camps and classes and workshops for people of all ages, we are active in supporting the performing arts in Goshen, and we genuinely want to hear from the community regarding what we can do better, and what we can do more of. We want people in the community to feel free to let us know what they want, because the Goshen Theater is here for them and it plays a part in the future of this city.

Goshen Theater Drama Club’s Summer Camp is a unique, three-week program focusing on fine arts learning, fun, and performance. Participants learn about theater, design, storytelling, history, and teamwork. Professional instructors and local educators serve as guides for this one-of-a-kind program, which culminates with a live performance on the Goshen Theater Stage. Two tracks are available to campers: “Performance” and “Technical Theater.” Performance track students will be on stage for the showcase, while Technical Theater students will create designs, running the production from behind the scenes. Financial aid and Scholarships are available. Email GTDC@GoshenTheater.org for more information, or visit https://goshentheater.com/education/gtdc/.

Written by Jake Sandock