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What's in a name...

The change From Children's Castle Theater to CastleCo Theatre

It wasn't a quick decision to change CCT's name. For many staff and Board Members (and we're sure, many of you) the name Children's Castle Theater is tied to years of memories....

 

It's connected to favorite childhood characters, memorable moments backstage, and time spent with friends. 

 

However, as William Shakespeare examines in Romeo and Juliet, the true soul of a being (or organization) lies in the way it lives, the actions it takes, and the values it expresses - not in the name it is called. In fact, it was a list (or rather several lists) of CCT values that spurred the idea for CastleCo. 

 

When CCT leadership met in winter 2019, they knew a name change was on the table, but what that name could be, was anyone's guess. With the assistance of Lisa Hayes (a leadership coach and team facilitator, who is also the parent of CCT alumni), CCT leadership developed a list of values as a starting block to re-establish the organization's mission.

 

Throughout the course of winter and spring, several names were developed. One even stuck for a while, but no formal vote was taken. It wasn't until mid July 2020, that the name CastleCo emerged. CCT leadership knew they wanted a minimal shift and liked the idea of keeping the word 'castle' in the name. That's when Artistic Director, Kayla Yaeger, noticed a recurring theme from past meetings and lists.

 

Yaeger was in the process of compiling a written brief for the logo design process. Part of the brief requested a list of organization values. 

 

"I had three lists of values sitting in front of me," Yaeger said. "Each one was from a different CCT meeting, but they all had words which seemed to repeat over and over again."

 

Those words included values like; community, confidence, and communication. They also included words like friendship, safe, and accepting - which could just as easily be expressed in the words 'companionship' and 'compassion'. 

 

In addition to representing countless CCT values, Yaeger liked the cadence of the word 'CastleCo' when spoken out loud, and (in a convenient coincidence) it also allowed the organization to keep the acronym 'CCT'. 

 

"We weren't necessarily trying to find words that would fit with the existing acronym, but it does make the transition much simpler," Yaeger said. 

 

The name was brought before CCT leadership and voted in during the mid-July meeting. 

 

"I think the most difficult part of using the name will be making sure we don't overdo it," said Yaeger. "There are a lot of words that begin with 'co'."

Theatre for all

Finding ways to increase access

If you're the type of person who tends to notice details, the phrase; #TheaterForAll probably  hasn't slipped past you. CCT Marketing Chair, Kelly Beck-O'Sullivan has been using the hashtag on CCT social media since August.

 

The three words, however, are more than a catchy phrase; they are the short form version of CCT's new mission. It's not uncommon for organizations to give new words to their mission over time and CCT is no exception. 

 

The mission (along with CCT's name change) are part of an effort to better represent just what CCT does.

 

In 1993 when CCT was officially founded, the production casts primarily consisted of youth actors (grade 8 and under) with only a few exceptions. In 1997, CCT targeted adult actors for a show titled Third and Oak, a production about historic events in Farmington. Following that production, the majority of CCT shows have included teen and adult actors, however the name 'Children's Castle Theater' wasn't always giving that impression. 

 

Increasingly, over the past five years, teen actors unfamiliar with CCT have reported hesitation in attending auditions, unsure if shows had roles and content for their age group. Around the same time, audience members started stating that upon hearing the theater's name, they expected productions with minimal sets and costumes and were surprised at the professionalism when they attended the shows - so while CCT was aiming to be a theater for all, it was presenting itself as a theater for some.

 

An Expanded Vision

 

Providing theater opportunities for youth in Dakota County has always been a pivotal part of CCT, and the new mission will not change that. CCT intends to continue producing the same types of shows it always has, including shows that cast youth actors (age 18 and under) in leading roles. Instead of changing the population that CCT serves, the new mission 'Theater for All', is about expanding access and outreach. 

 

Four years ago, CCT began the process of increasing theater access within Dakota County by partnering with Dakota City Heritage Village (DCHV) to produce a production of A Christmas Carol, at DCHV's annual winter event. The production allows event entrants to watch the production without charging an additional fee. Since its inception, over 3000 audience members have attended the production. 

 

The new mission will help to keep theater access as a primary goal of CCT.

 

CCT leadership have already begun discussing future plans to increase theater access. Upcoming projects (which CCT hopes to implement in the next two years) include;

 

Increasing access for audience members with hearing loss through the use of open-caption devices at all CCT performances.

 

Increasing access for low-income audience members through free and reduced tickets that can be offered in partnership with various charitable organizations in Dakota County.

 

Readers who have additional ideas for ways that CCT can increase access should email childrenscastletheater@gmail.com

The search for a logo

Meet Ursa Rahne, the logo designer

Remember that Facebook hint that mentioned Slovenia? It's because the designer of CCT's new logo, Ursa Rahne, lives all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in the country of Slovenia, currently residing in a flat beneath a castle, no less!

 

The connection between CCT and an artist in Slovenia was formed through an organization called 99Desgins. The online design company matches organizations like CCT with designers all over the world through its logo design contest platform. 

 

CCT applied for a grant from 99Designs in early June 2020, which it received the first week in July. The grant awarded CCT with a sum of money that could be spent on a new logo design. 

 

During the process, CCT leadership created a design brief and launched a contest that received over 700 submissions. The new logo, which features three character faces, was chosen for its playful nature, versatility, and the organic representation of stones building upon one another to create something bigger (similar to the way actors work together to create a show).

 

When Rahne saw the logo contest for CCT come across her screen, she knew she wanted to participate. 

 

"I started drawing some castles and stones on the paper but I hadn't liked any of the sketches," Rahne said. "Then I took a walk and I realized I could play with stones and make something that would be more dynamic and modular. My favorite thing about this logo is the fact it is modular and that gives it playfulness."

 

While Rahne is a designer by profession, she is not new to the theater world. She was first introduced to theater as a high school student. Rahne created a photo report on a theater show being performed in one of the alternative culture districts of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Today, she still photographs for the very same theater. In addition to providing photographery work for local playhouses, Rahne also participates actively as a designer and (most recently) a performer for a local group that produces theater for the oppressed (bringing tough and often emotional subjects to light).

 

Rahne said upon reading about the CCT brand, it reminded her of her own theatre experiences and the community that grows IN and AROUND the theatre.

 

"The bricks [in the logo] are not only forming a castle," Rahne said, "but also creating different characters so it looks like you are watching a theatre performance...I created the logo to represents the structure of relationships [within a production] and the creative collaboration."

Details for donors

Let us know if you need assistance

Those who have made a donation to CCT between 2019 and 2020, and those who intend to make a donation in November or December should note that while CCT's name is changing, the legal name change will be a few months behind our announcement. This means the name change may not be reflected on platforms (like GiveMN) or in IRS records until 2021.

 

CCT's EIN will remain the same throughout the name change process, so claiming charitable donations to CCT on your tax forms should not be a problem. Anyone who does encounter difficulty when attempting to claim their donations should contact Kayla Yaeger (CCT Artistic Director) at childrenscastletheater@gmail.com.