Kelsey Brown ’17, a senior communication sciences and disorders and theater double-major, has always known what she wanted to do.
“When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a paper about how I either wanted to be a drama teacher or a contortionist when I grew up,” Kelsey said. “Then, when I was in high school I knew early on that I wanted to do speech. A lot of the goals you have onstage in a show are similar to what you’re trying to achieve in speech therapy.”
The Kentucky native grew up in a musical family in which both of her parents played the trumpet, and during high school, she apprenticed with Lexington Children’s Theatre school and taught preschool music. When she came to UGA, she thought that she had left theater behind, but the acting bug bit her during sophomore year. The newly formed Children’s Theatre Troupe opened applications for members, and Kelsey applied and got a spot.
Since then, she has written and performed in original shows with the troupe, including “Another Kid’s Treasure Island,” which received the university’s Sustainability + Arts Grant. The show is about three siblings who are lost at sea and wind up on an island where they use debris on the island to survive. The troupe performed “Another Kid’s Treasure Island” for local elementary school students at the State Botanical Garden. There, with the help of College of Education professor Gretchen Thomas, they set up a makerspace for the kids to put themselves into the characters’ shoes and solve challenges similar to those faced in the play. The show also toured to homeschool theater students at Compass Community, Camp Kudzu campers and their families with Type I Diabetes at Camp Twin Lakes, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and students at Thomas Lay Afterschool Program.
“Of the 30-40 kids in the [Thomas Lay] program, only a handful had ever seen a play before,” Kelsey said. “It was exciting for us to be able to perform for them, where they’re comfortable, and then dance with them and play with them in character. They were our most enthusiastic audience.”