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Media Unit Youth Theatre opens its 34th season

Media Unit in search of new cast and crew members

Syracuse's Media Unit (MU) Youth Theatre Troupe opened its 34th season, Friday Oct. 16 with "From the Back of the Bus," which is about racism and racial healing. The actors ranged in age from 13 to 21 years. The majority of the audience in the Montgomery Street Gifford Community Studio was from SUNY Oswego Professor Alfred D. Frederick's multi-cultural graduate class on education of diverse populations.

Asked what he thought of the performance, he said, "I wouldn't be taking my class here for seven years if it wasn't effective."

Media Unit's producer, Walt Shepperd, welcomed the audience and explained the mission of the Media Unit, as a pre-professional program for students of media arts and management with an emphasis on theater and television. It is an initiation and practice in performance and production. This includes acting, writing, directing, stage management, tech work, video editing, sound engineering, dance, singing, marketing and management. A MU person will also shadow the MU's board chair Shepperd said.

The Unit produces a weekly television show, "Rough Times Live" that is broadcast on cable in Syracuse, Binghamton and New York City. Shepperd noted the media can be a vicious business, and he believes the MU's training teaches students how to navigate or play the game successfully through hands on experience. It's not for the weak of heart he adds. It's playing to every kind of room in 60 performances a year including a Syracuse Parks Tour, the state fair, in Syracuse Stage's black box, the South West Community Center, inside the Onondaga County Justice Center, taking the show on the road, to the Harm's Theatre Festival and even to Manhattan.

"Time and time again, the Media Unit has the unique ability of taking a very serious issue and translating it into a very positive message that calls for community action, and most importantly their messages ring true with many people living and learning in the city," said Pat Driscoll, commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Youth Services for the City of Syracuse.

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