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The name nearly says it all. Take Charge Theater wants students who can take charge and won't settle for less. Take Charge, which held auditions this week, is a unique program that enables students to take control of the technical aspect of show production, take a stand on current political issues, and take an interest in the West Philadelphia community. Created two years ago by Student Performing Arts Coordinator Kathryn Helene, the theater company has two different aspects. The first centers on a show focusing on a socially relevant theme that is produced by professional staff and assisted by student apprentices. The second involves University students conducting theater workshops with West Philadelphia High School students. Helene said the apprenticeship program attempts to fill dearth of experienced directors and producers in the University's community left by each year's graduation. "When I first came here, one of the things people told me consistently happened is they lost the technical pool," she said earlier this week. Students who have worked as apprentices said this week that they appreciate the formal training they received adding the program gave them a new way of thinking about productions. Randy Wise, who will be directing this year's fall production, said that the program's main benefit is giving students hands-on experience. "The idea is that they gain knowledge not only by learning, but also by doing," he said this week. "That's an exciting aspect." Wise added that Take Charge is unique in the Philadelphia area. The socially conscious nature of the plays is a result both of Helene's desire to see that sort of production at the University and of the maturity of the professional staffs. "Bent [Take Charge's first production] was a play dealing with homosexual love, which is something I don't think any student group would want to handle," Berman said. "When plays are done with large groups of people, they take fewer chances." The program's community outreach facet represents students' taking charge of their environment, according to Wise, who was in charge of it last semester. "There's this sense that Penn is isolated from the community around it," he said. "We thought theater was a valuable and exciting way to reach out." Take Charge Theater's fall show, Stopping in the Desert, will open November 29 in the Harold Prince Theatre.

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