For nearly two decades, Acting Against Cancer (AAC) has impacted the city of Louisville with its commitment to helping those affected by the disease. Through their dynamic productions and engaging programs for children, the organization continues to use musical theater as a means to affect change. To learn the latest about what AAC has been up to, we spoke with the nonprofit’s artistic director, Remy Sisk.
WHAT’S IN THE WORKS
Although AAC announced its 2018-19 season in November 2017, the company is currently going through a bit of a restructuring. “We are, of course, ultra stoked to – for the fifth year in a row – present ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ at PLAY Louisville in October,” says Sisk. “This year, we’ll be performing the last weekend of October as well as on Halloween night. We’re also taking the show, for the second year, to PLAY Nashville earlier in the month.”
In addition, AAC will begin the third year of after-school children’s programming this fall. “This is where elementary and middle school-aged kids can come two days a week and receive comprehensive musical theater instruction,” says Sisk. “This semester, the fall class will culminate with a performance of ‘The Addams Family,’ which I am super excited about.” Registration for that program is open on their website, actingagainstcancer.com.
HOW AAC IS EVOLVING
“We used to be sort of a middleman for donations,” Sisk explains. “We would stage big events, like musicals, to raise money that we would then donate to various worthy organizations. I’m exceedingly proud now, though, that we have become the cause ourselves.
“In our after school programs, any child who has been touched by cancer (in some way) may attend our programs for free,” he continues. “Through these classes, they are then able to discover the healing power of the arts and what performing can do for their mental and physical health. Recently, through the generous support of the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund and Fund for the Arts, we received an ArtsMatch grant to help improve and overhaul our children’s programming. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how that funding is going to enhance the experience we offer these amazing kids. Elsewhere, our mainstage season is constantly growing and expanding as our productions get more and more robust. In fact, a video from our production of ‘Heathers the Musical’ recently hit 1 million views on YouTube!”
“As we are proud to now assert ourselves as a cause of our own, we have not donated for a few years,” Sisk says of the change in their philanthropic strategy. “But in the past, we did make various contributions to Norton Children’s Hospital, including the donation of a complete blood count machine to the hematology/oncology clinic as well as financial support for the expressive art therapy program within the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center. Outside of Norton, we contributed funding to Ellie Cat’s Crew and fully sponsored the game room at Gilda’s Club Louisville.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There are several ways community members can get involved with AAC. “First and foremost, come to our shows!” exclaims Sisk. “Throughout the year, we offer a wide variety of musical theater programming, bringing some of the most contemporary cutting-edge musicals to the Louisville stage for the first time. In the last few years, we have presented the regional premieres of ‘Spring Awakening,’ Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Rock of Ages,’ as well as acclaimed productions of ‘The Addams Family,’ ‘The Last Five Years,’ ‘Legally Blonde,’ ‘Heathers the Musical’ and most recently, ‘Carrie the Musical.’”
If watching a traditional musical isn’t your thing, you can join AAC for a spooky good time this fall. “Come do the Time Warp with us as we present ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ every October at PLAY Louisville,” Sisk says. “We are also always looking for volunteers to help with shows. Meanwhile, if you know of a child touched by cancer, you can always refer the family to us and we can discuss performance opportunities within our after-school programs. For more information on any of this, please reach out to me at email@example.com.”
During this year’s Give for Good Louisville, taking place on Sept. 13, AAC hopes to raise at least $2,000 to further their impact. “More funding would really kick off our kids’ fall semester in the best way and set us up for success as we move into ‘Rocky Horror’ season,” said Sisk. “There’s also a super-cool collaboration in the works that I can’t talk about yet, but some funds geared toward that would really be significant.”
PERFORMING FOR THE COMMUNITY
“I know it can be confusing to hear about Acting Against Cancer: Are they a theater company, a place for kids programming or a charity?” Sisk admits. “The truth is, we’re all three. We take our mainstage shows very seriously and proudly offer professional-level productions for a community-level price-point. We hope that those who attend our shows do learn a little about what we do with the kids and how we’re using the power of the performing arts to make a difference. I’m always ready to talk more about what we’ve got going on and discuss shows, kids classes or even sponsorship opportunities.” VT
Acting Against Cancer