Acme Theatre Company

Our mission is to present plays of high literary quality while providing opportunities for young people to learn acting and technical theatre skills through peer and adult mentorship in an environment of mutual trust, respect, and responsibility. We value learning through doing - Acme Theater Company is run by ninth through twelfth-grade students, with mentorship provided by a small cadre of adults.

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Address: PO Box 159
Davis, CA 95617
County or Parish: Yolo County
Executive Director: Emily Henderson
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 530-401-6688
Acme Theatre Company is an independent, self-sustaining, community theatre group for ninth through twelfth grade artists. Founded in 1981 by Davis High School teacher David Burmester and a group of dedicated students, Acme has been passed down through generations of youth and adult mentors for nearly 40 years. The company is now operated under the artistic direction of Acme alumna Emily Henderson, supported by an adult board of alumni, parents, and community members, and a youth leadership team of current company members. Acme's mission is to present plays of high literary quality while providing opportunities for young people to learn acting and technical theatre skills and, above all, accountability, responsibility, and teamwork.

Acme produces three mainstage theatrical productions and several smaller events each year. In addition, every summer, Acme's members organize and teach a series of drama classes for approximately 75 K-8 students in Davis. In Acme's summer drama classes, K-8 participants are exposed to all aspects of theatre production and have an introduction to the kind of responsibility and accountability that Acme participation demands. The company's theatrical operations are accomplished entirely by the young people themselves with the mentorship of a small cadre of adults. This mandate for youth leadership, which has always been the hallmark of Acme, is what gives the company its unique value. Teens who participate in Acme don't just learn to act or to design and make costumes, build sets, hang lights, or create publicity. They learn to work as a team towards a common goal and to be accountable themselves and the company as a whole. The success of every production is entirely up to the young people themselves.

For nearly 40 years, Acme has provided Davis youth in-depth training in theatrical and life skills. This program has always been available at absolutely no cost to the high school company members and their families. Acme is financially sustained through ticket sales for performances, fees paid by parents of K-8 students who attend the Drama Camp program, individual donations, fundraiser events, corporate sponsorship, and grant funding.
At this time, Acme has two concrete needs:
- Financial Contributions: Acme's 2016 budget is $71,336 which needs to grow to approximately $100,000 over the next year. This increase is driven by two factors:
1. The need to raise the Artistic Director's compensation to a competitive level
2. The dramatically rising costs of rehearsal, performance, and instructional space. Acme has earned income from ticket sales and fees from an annual series of summer drama classes for K-8 students. However, those sources are already near maximum.

- Board Members and Other Volunteers: Acme is a student led and operated company with only one employee, an Artistic Director who mentors the students. There is also "behind the scenes" support from board members and other volunteers in fund raising, financial and risk management, and policy development. Acme seeks volunteers who have skills in these areas and, MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, a passionate commitment to Acme's core value of youth leading all aspects of theatre production.

Our top needs:
  1. Funding: Unrestricted - Acme seeks funding to allow our theatrical productions and youth-led learning to continue!
  2. Volunteers - Acme seeks adult volunteers with skills in fund raising.
  3. Board Members - Acme seeks board members who have skills in the areas of fund raising, financial and risk management, and policy development and, MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, a passionate commitment to Acme's core value of youth leading all aspects of theatre production.
  4. Space: Office or Other - We are seeking a permanent rehearsal and performance space!
  5. In-Kind Donations - We appreciate donations of: working power tools and sewing machines, costumes, and copy paper.
"Acme builds a community in which teens can be useful and important. The company showed me the power of art to change people's lives and society at large, and it helped me discover and build upon my [own] passion for the arts." - Margaret Starbuck, Acme Alumna '13 Backstage is where it happens. For any theatre company the brainwork, the legwork, the muscle work that gets a show to its point of performance happens - by and large - backstage, or off stage, or way far away from the stage. Acme Theatre Company is unusual - perhaps unique - among youth theatre companies in that backstage work is where we specialize. We focus on the planning, the designing, and the late-night conversing that brings our best work to the rehearsal room. And throughout it all youth are the brains, the sweat, and the tears behind our productions. The houses on stage with layered sheeting, textured painting, and porch lights that work are designed, drafted, and built by our seventeen-year-old Master Carpenter and his high school-aged crew. The shiver and smile that you receive at the emergence of pin pricks of dancing fireflies in the darkness are brought to you with agony and brilliance by our eighteen-year-old Master Electrician and her vociferously dubbed "BEST CREW IN THE WORLD!" And that moment when the sound effect syncs up perfectly with the actors on stage? A high school student sound designer and technician did that too. We strive to do theatre that matters - theatre that builds community and discusses difficult issues that are worth talking about. We strive to do theatre that cultivates mutual trust, respect, and responsibility in order to develop a thriving creative community. Above all, we strive to do theatre that centers on youth so that, through their work, these youth can become more mature artists, citizens, and people in the world. We, the small cadre of adult mentors of Acme, strive to do theatre this way because we have seen what youth are capable of when we do. Emily Henderson Artistic Director Acme Theatre Company