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Student finds support at ASU for her passion

March 05, 2010

Sable Williams thought she’d get a big fat “No” when she asked her adviser about starting a drama club for children.


After all, it would mean recruiting ASU students to help, planning activities, finding an elementary school that would let them come once a week and then corralling 45 giggling grade-schoolers into putting on plays.


But all it took was one meeting with an ASU student services coordinator at Barrett, the Honors College, and the project was on. “Great idea – let’s do it!” Keith Southergill told her.


A year and a half later the innovative children’s theatre program is going strong in its third semester at Thew Elementary School in Tempe. Ten ASU student mentors bring a lively after-school program to an area that has none, where children go home to empty apartments or roam outside until their parents get home.


“Our kids really look forward to it,” said Julia Schroeder, principal at Thew. “They thrive on the attention, because they don’t have this kind of mentoring at home. It’s wonderful.”


Williams, a junior in theatre and pre-nursing, continues to be the driving force behind the program. The third- through fifth-graders are learning acting, dance, music and history, and they’re also making their own sets and costumes. Each week they write in journals.


In April they’ll perform for their teachers and parents. Last spring drew an enthusiastic audience of 100.


“I don’t think if I’d proposed this project anywhere else but ASU, it would have gotten this response,” said Williams, who was motivated by her love of children and theatre. “If you have a passion, you can follow it here. You don’t realize how much support you’ll get.”


A graduate of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Williams chose ASU after she was inspired by attending a play at the Galvin Playhouse. She was drawn by the experimental drama program at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and by Barrett.


She said her most influential professor has been David Barker, whose advanced stage movement class challenged her to push her limits, and to practice professionalism.


At 20, Williams carries a heavy schedule because she likes to stay fully engaged. She has a 3.73 GPA, is taking 21 credit hours of classwork, works 20 to 30 hours a week as a phlebotomist, and is rehearsing for a play with Arizona Curriculum Theatre. She also is involved in a research project on theatre for blind children.


Last summer she had a scholarship from the ASU Alumni Association to study in New York City with Kari Margolis, an award-winning theatre artist, director and teacher. Currently she’s keeping her fingers crossed for getting into nursing school, hoping to create a career for herself that also will let her pursue her love of theatre.


“I’ve had so many opportunities here, so many discoveries, so many chances to grow.”