ECHS Theater Program Has Momentum – and a 2012-13 Season!

A special thanks to Tracy Giles for this guest feature on the revitalization of the drama program at El Cerrito High School. The program is seeking community support. Attend a show and buy Gauchos Coffee and a coffee mug for holiday gifts.

The El Cerrito community has been very supportive of revitalization efforts of the El Cerrito High School Theater program.

The West Contra Costa School District, El Cerrito High School and the parent community collaborated starting early in 2011 to lay the foundation for a theater program. Supporters of the Theater Arts (STA) was formed under El Cerrito High School’s Student Activity Foundation (SAF) to help the school’s program pay for royalties, and materials for upcoming productions.

Local businesses like Pastime Hardware, Tile Shop and Stuart Construction helped provide set building materials. School organizations like SAF and its Investing in Academic Excellence (IAE) committee provided startup funding for scripts, materials, specialized technical coaching, lighting and sound supplies. Contra Costa Civic Theatre has been incredibly kind to offer professional consulting and costumes. The Rotary Club of El Cerrito made a significant contribution for vital resources such as rolling racks for costume storage, classroom copies of classic plays and other materials. Without this initial seeding and assistance from the community, the program would never have had the resources to take shape.

Jennifer Dreyfus, MA Theater Arts, joined the ECHS staff for the 2011-12 year, teaching beginning drama classes as well as English. For 2012-13, increased interest and student enrollment allowed for beginning drama to be complemented by intermediate and advanced classes. In late December 2012 the drama program will present its first full production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in years. Performances will be at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Center on:

  • Friday, 11/30, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, 12/1, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, 12/2, at 2 p.m. 

Tickets will be $10 for adults, $5 for students.

Although the district and community have been supportive, the program still struggles with sustainability. Desperate times demand creative measures… 

Last year the STA partnered with Gaucho alumni McLaughlin Coffee to create Gauchos Coffee Shop Blend, now a year-round fundraiser. This year the group rolled out “Spotlight on El Cerrito” Mugs with a simple design, perfect for El Cerrito residents and businesses. The two-toned ceramic 13-oz. mugs feature a graphic of a stage spotlight illuminating the words “El Cerrito.”  Combined they make a wonderful hostess gift for Thanksgiving, and appreciation gifts for our El Cerrito residents. The coffee and the mugs are available with all proceeds going to the high school program at “Adorn & Flourish” at 7027 Stockton Ave., owned by former Gaucho theater performer Kate Peterson. They can be ordered for local delivery using the order form on the school website: (www.elcerritogauchos.net search for “coffee”).

Another way that you or your business can assist the program is to become a sponsor. STA has offered businesses and community members various sponsorship levels. Every donation is appreciated from $25 (Friend of STA) to $500 “Director Circle,” with perks such as coffee, mugs, tickets offered along with program listings for the season. Donations are fully tax deductible and can be mailed to: Supporters of the Theater Arts, 3060 El Cerrito Plaza, #507, El Cerrito, CA 94530. For more info, email: echscoffee@att.net.  

In March 2013, Ms. Dreyfus, ECHS Drama teacher, will collaborate with Keith Johnson, ECHS Band Director, and Jessie Kronenberg, ECHS Dance teacher, and their students will stage a production of Little Shop of Horrors. This show will be entertaining – please put it in your calendar!

If you have any interest in coming to a show, buying some coffee, volunteering to build a set or becoming a sponsor we appreciate any and all participation. Call Tracy Giles at: (510) 528-8411.

Tracy Giles is an El Cerrito High School parent.


El Cerrito Patch welcomes guest features and columns from members of the community. Those interested in contributing can write to elcerrito@patch.com.

Marty November 20, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Is/was there a plan to sell donor plaques for the seat arms in the auditorium to support ECHS arts? The seats were ordered with the recessed rectangles so I assume someone had that idea.


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