MAT opens theater camps, youth play auditions

June 11, 2019 By Rachel Jamieson, Havre Daily News

The local acting troupe is putting on its first KidsMAT Camp of the summer this week in Havre, followed by auditions Friday and Saturday for its youth production of “She Kills Monsters.”

Montana Actors’ Theatre Artistic Director Jay Pyette said the children’s theater camps are essential to MAT’s purpose.

“MAT started in looking for opportunities for our kids here in the arts,” he said.

MAT again hired interns to put on KidsMAT and to help with the youth production. Rory Everingham, Austin “Jimmy” Nelson [Samantha Haan] and Kira Mills are this year’s interns and Willow Riggin, Dever Everingham and Grace Crantz are assistants to the interns.

“We are looking for more people to join and help out,” said Angie Pratt, who heads the youth production.

KidsMAT Camp is, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The children will rehearse and then produce “Snow White” Thursday at 7 p.m. in The Little Theatre in Montana State University-Northern’s Cowan Hall.

The camps continue through the summer, including two more in Havre.

Next Monday, KidsMAT, will put together a Box Elder camp throughout the week and the following week will hold a camp at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.

July 8-11 KidsMAT will hold a camp in Shelby, then July 15-18 in Chinook.

The following week, July 25-27, is the youth production of “She Kills Monsters.”

KidsMAT returns to Havre July 29 to Aug. 1 and more productions of “She Kills Monsters” Aug. 1-3.

KidsMAT goes to Hays-Lodge Pole Aug. 5-8, and back to Havre Aug. 12-15.

Ages for kids who want to be involved in the camps ranges from 5 to 13,

The youth production is for middle and high school-age youth. Auditions for the July-August play are Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in The Little Theatre this week.

“She Kills Monsters” is a play written by Qui Nguyen in 2011 in which she takes the audience into an action-packed fantasy world as a young woman, Agnes Evans, leaves her home in Ohio after the death of her younger sister, Tilly. Agnes found her sister’s Dungeons & Dragons journal and sets foot on the path to what was her sister’s safe haven in an imaginary world.

The production will feature a full set and full costumes with a maximum of 15 parts and minimal of 10 parts. Actors will range from sixth grade to one year after high school and will take about six weeks to put together and will be produced by the end of July and will run for about three weeks.

Pratt took over the program years ago and did it herself for three years the interns came in. She said her favorite role was playing the main narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and believes that theater is a way of therapy for her.

She said she has seen how theater has changed her and her life throughout the years.

“It gave me more confidence in talking in public which I hate, but I can do it because of theater,”,” Pratt said. “It gave me more people skills because you learn how to be able to work with everyday people in different walks of life. It helped my creativity, by giving me a creative outlet.

“I really think it helped me in my adult life,” she added. “It’s therapy. Not often do you get to step out your life and be somebody else. In the theater, you can leave your life behind for awhile and be someone else.”

First KidsMAT production opens tonight

By Derek Hann, Havre Daily News, June 14, 2018

“Dinosaurs in Space (with a couple of puppies)” is the first production of this year’s KidsMAT theater program series, set to run tonight in the Little Theatre on Montana State University-Northern’s campus, one day before auditions for the Montana Actors’ Theatre youth production.

The play was put together by local children, volunteers and the interns hired by MAT to run this year’s summer children’s programs. In the KidsMAT summer camps, the interns help the kids come up with the story, which the interns turn into a script, and produce the play.

“Dinosaurs in Space” has a one-night run tonight at 7.

Abigail Kucera, 12, a second-year participant of KidsMAT, said she is very excited for this year’s production.

Kucera said she is enjoying the program and is excited to play an astronaut in this year’s play. She said it takes a lot of hard work to be an actor, having to memorize lines, speak clearly and loudly so the audience can hear, and practicing.

Kucera said actors have to take practice very seriously because that is how they improve, and she finds the hardest part of the life of an actor is memorizing the lines.

Kucera said her parents are excited to see her in this year’s production and that it is “her time.”

She is overall confident in her roll and in the production, she said, although she still has a few butterflies. She has enjoyed the past week in the program and has enjoyed rehearsing with the other kids participating in KidsMAT.

Kix Bender, 10, first-year participant in KidsMAT, said he is confident in his role – the “human galaxy.” He said his favorite part is the funny lines in the play such as by the clumsy astronaut, performed by his friend Mason.

Bender said they are making their own costumes and building their own sets, and he is enjoying his time with the other kids. He added that he will be doing this again next year. He was in a performance in the past with his school and ever since then has been excited about acting, he said.

KidsMAT is run by three interns.

Rebecca Severinsen, an Augusta High School graduate, is studying elementary education at Northern in pursuit of becoming an English teacher in South Korea. This is her first year with KidsMAT, and she said she would be interested in participating again in the program.

She said it is best to set a clear set of rules for the kids, and she has learned from the program how to improve her teaching of children. In the past, she said, she has done a little acting with Missoula Children’s Theatre and participated in speech and drama classes.

Severinsen said the children are amazing and she is confident that they will do well today. She said the greatest benefit of the KidsMAT program is to show kids the abilities they already have and build their confidence. She heard about the program through her professor at Northern, Valerie Guyant, and she said she is glad that she was able to be involved.

Katie Burke from Tucson, Arizona, said she had heard about the program from her sister who lives in Havre, and decided to come visit and participate. She said programs like this are important for kids; they are learning important skills such as memorization and public speaking, and, she added, theater is important for everyone at any age.

She said they have had a crazy time writing “Dinosaurs in Space” and the kids had lots of creative ideas. This is her first year with KidsMAT, and she said she is learning a lot and it is a good first theater experience for the kids. She added that she loves working in a high-energy environment and that she loves working with the kids. During the program children get outdoor time to play and get out all their “wiggles” she said, adding that the program is mostly about having fun and getting kids excited about theater.

Burke is currently studying for a theater degree.

Brandon Bergren, a 21-year-old Havre native, has been involved with MAT before and was involved with KidsMAT last year. He said he is having a great time working with the kids and getting them able to express their creative sides. Bergren said the interns write the play, but the children pitch the ideas. The interns divide the kids into two groups and hear ideas the kids have in addition to some line ideas. The interns then take what the children say and write a play that they will enjoy. Bergren said he enjoys seeing the kids having a good time and the interns always share in the excitement.

Bergren, who is a theater major at University of Montana in Missoula, said that although the program has the kids work together a lot, they do break up into smaller groups and work in sections. He added that this group is unique in that they really like the crafts. Bergren said the program gets many returning kids each year and this year has been interesting because it has many first-year kids and is a smaller group.

He added that the program has a 40-kid limit for each week so that kids get more of a chance to interact. He said it’s nice to be able to show the kids what show business is like and that the program focuses on the experience of the kids.

Bergren said the arts is a big part of his life and it’s exciting to pass on the creative energy to the younger generation, keeping the arts alive and having the kids explore their own creativity.

He added that this is the first camp of the summer and they will also be doing KidsMAT camps in Chinook next week, June 18-21; Rocky Boy July 9-12; Box Elder June 25-28; Hays-Lodge Pole July 30 to Aug. 2, and two other camps in Havre and July 16-19 and Aug. 6-9.

People who are interested in registering their children in the program can pre-register on the MAT website at by clicking on the “KidsMAT – Acting up” link or registering on site the first day of the camp. The charge is $50 for one child and $30 for every additional child.

Bergren added that he is also excited for the upcoming “Outsiders” show for the middle school and high school age kids. Auditions will be held Friday and Saturday this week.

KidsMAT summer camps let children try theater life

By Kristen Takeuchi, Havre Daily News, May 11, 2018

This summer, area children will have the opportunity to learn and experience life on stage, as well as backstage, during the the KidsMAT theater camp put on by Montana Actors’ Theatre.

A summer camp has been going on for around 20 years but it officially became an intern-led theatre camp called KidsMAT four years ago.

During the camp, kids have the opportunity to write and develop their own script, MAT’s Artistic Director Jay Pyette said.

“We focus on creative development, team building and participation in every phase of production,” Pyette added in the email. “We are far more interested in what the kids gain during camp instead of a ‘glossy’ end product.”

College-age summer interns are hired by MAT to run the camp and direct the summer youth show which features middle and high schoolaged actors. This year the interns are Brandon Bergren, Katie Burke and Rebecca Severinsen.

Along with this year’s interns, several former interns and regular MAT members, including he and Grant Olson, will help guide the interns, Pyette said.

Each camp session runs one week, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kids need to bring a sack lunch but snacks are provided throughout the day.

“On Thursday the kids return at 5 p.m. for pizza and a final rehearsal,” Pyette said.

The children then perform a show for the public at 7 p.m.

Six camp sessions will be held this summer — three in Havre, and one each in Chinook, Box Elder and Hays-Lodge Pole. The Havre camps run June 11-14, July 16-19 and Aug. 6-9. The Chinook camp is June 18-21; Box Elder is June 25-28, and Hays-Lodge Pole is July 30-Aug. 2.

The registration fee for each camp is $50 for the first child and $30 for each additional child in the family.

Parents can register their child online at or they can pick up a registration form.

For Havre or Chinook camps, registration forms can be picked up at Bear Paw Meats, the Computer Center, The Press, the Chinook Pharmacy or Chinook Liquor Store.

For Box Elder camp registration, parents can contact Hillary Williams of Box Elder Schools at 352-3222, and Denise Perez can be contacted at 673-3019 for the Hays-Lodge Pole camp registration.

Pyette said he recommends kids sign up early because there had been a great demand for spots in the past camps and each of the six sessions is limited to 40 participants.

Call Pyette at 945-0272 for more info.

Montana Actors’ Theatre program for kids starts next week

By Alex Ross, Havre Daily News, June 15, 2016

Montana Actors’ Theatre will launch its KidsMAT Acting up! summer theater camp in Havre Monday, before later traveling to other area communities.

The camp, which is for children ages 5 to 13, will meet at the Little Theater at Montana State University-Northern from Monday to Thursday next week.

Jay Pyette, MAT artistic director, said the camp involves its young participants in every element of the production, including writing the play, building the set and doing costume design as well as performing in the play.

He said the children will meet each day 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the four-day camp. Pyette said that the Little Theatre will serve as the group’s camp site,

Campers will take part in activities to improve their skills in acting, team-building, knowledge of the theater and rehearse for the show.

Campers will leave at 3 p.m. Thursday but then return for a pizza dinner and a final rehearsal at 5 p.m., before performing their play.

KidsMAT will then be in Chinook from June 27 to 30 at the Chinook High School Auditorium, Malta High School, July 11 to 14 and Hays-Lodge Pole High School, July 18 to 21.

The camp will then come back to Havre for another weeklong session Aug. 8 to 11.

Pyette said that though some of the camps have had as many as 70 people, they want to limit them to 50 children each.

Every child will receive a MAT T-shirt and water bottle.

The camp is $45 for the first child per household and $25 for each additional child.

Children can be signed up at

MAT expands summer youth theater camps

By John Paul Schmidt, Havre Daily News, June 2, 2015

The Montana Actors’ Theater KidsMAT youth camps have been bringing local children to the stage for almost 20 years and are now expanding across north-central Montana.

“It’s evolved as it’s gone along,” said Jay Pyette, the artistic director of MAT.

Chinook, Chester, Hays, Great Falls and Malta will all be able to enroll their youth in the camps and Havre is getting another camp for a total of two due to the high demand for the program every year.

Pyette said the youth acting camps are more like workshops than camps. The camps last four days long from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and culminate in a production open to the public on the final day.

“It’s for the kids to learn and grow,” Pyette said. “It’s not necessarily about the end production. The main focus is for the kids to learn stuff and, of course, to have fun.”

When a youth takes part in the camp, he or she works with others to write and develop their own, original show. The camp starts on a Monday and ends Thursday, when the youth perform their play in front of family and friends.

“Usually the camp gets about 40 participants, which is why we decided to go for another camp,” Pyette said, adding that they are getting sponsorship from the other town’s businesses and they are excited to be able to hold the camps outside of Havre.

Also new to this year’s youth camps is the Young Professionals program, which brings recent graduates of college to help run the camps and productions. This year, there are four graduates from Concordia College here to run the camps. They will also be helping the youth production of “Dracula.”

“This is something we want to do every year … ,” Pyette said. “It gives them a chance to get a little bit of professional experience on their resume.”

The camp is $45 per youth and $25 for each additional child in the family. The production at the end of the camp, at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Pyette said there is no set age limit for the camp. They usually see children 5 to 13, but if older kids want to be involved, they can be.

Those wanting to register may do so by picking up a registration form from Angie’s Wildflowers, Bear Paw Meats, The Computer Center or the Havre City Pool, or they may register online at

The Havre camps will be June 8 to 11 and July 6 to 9 at the Little Theatre at Montana State University-Northern.

Chinook’s will be June 15 to 18 at the Chinook High School Auditorium. Hays’ wills be June 22 to 25 tentatively at the Hays Community Center. Malta’s will be from July 13-16 at the Malta High School. Chester’s will be July 27 to 30 at the C/J-I High School. Great Falls’ will be Aug. 10 to 13 at the MAT Theatre at 111 Central Avenue.

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