In the past 10 years since my CYT story began, I have performed many different roles: CYT Teacher, CYT Director, CYT Artistic Director, CYT Inc’s Director of Operations, & soon, CYT mom. Regardless of my title, I always endeavor to trust in the Lord and let His word guide my action.
My name is Heather LaForge, and this is My CYT Story .
In 2005, I was a graduate student studying Theatre Arts at University of California, San Diego. I happened upon a flier in the department lobby that said “Seeking artists to teach an after-school theater program.” One email and one interview later, I found myself standing in front of 75 middle schoolers saying “I’m Heather LaForge, and I’ll be one of your CYT@school teachers this session!” Until I began teaching for CYT@school, I had never heard of Christian Youth Theater. The closest CYT to my hometown was 2.5 hours away.
Fast forward to five years later. I had earned my Ph.D., become a mother, and was now living in Santa Cruz while my husband worked on his postdoctoral research. One day, I received a call telling me that a group of families were looking to start a theatre program with an organization called CYT, and would I be interested in perhaps applying to be the Artistic Director. I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”, saying “I actually worked for CYT in San Diego years ago!” A slight pause, then I continued, “But my second daughter was just born yesterday. Could we meet in a few weeks?”
For the next two years, I served as Artistic Director for CYT Santa Cruz. I loved being part of the start up, watching the program grow from 26 students in our first show, to around 60 in my last show with them. I saw “my CYT babies” grow into talented actors and amazing leaders. The CYT community cared for my family as well. CYT students and parents stepped in to babysit my girls when I needed it, and surrounded us with love when a little splinter landed my daughter in the hospital for 3 days over show weekend.
When my family relocated to San Diego, in 2012, I was hoping I’d be able to get involved in CYT again… perhaps as a teacher…or a director… God dreamed a bigger dream and a few months later, I was announced as CYT Inc.’s new Director of Operations! This is the position I currently serve in. I aim to support CYT affiliates across the country, providing guidance, wisdom, and connecting leaders so that together we would feel like a true national organization. It has been a joy to work towards this goal.
Now, I am about to embark on another new role: that of CYT mom! My eldest daughter is eligible to audition in the spring for her first CYT show. She is nervous, as am I. She’s watched so many auditions and knows what to expect, but I’ve never sat and watched my kid stand up bravely in front of so many and sing her heart out. As nervous as I am to step into this role, I know that God’s in charge. My daughter will get her bravery from Him, just as I continue to do. She is at the beginning of her CYT story, and my prayer is that God works on her heart through this organization just as he has done for so many others.
When some folks hear my story, they say “what a weird string of coincidences.” What I see, though, is God’s hand working through my life. Every part of my journey has led me to where I am today. God’s been faithful in using my experiences to benefit the larger CYT community. I feel lucky that God has collided my passion with His work and I hope that by yielding to His plan, I will help allow God’s CYT story to continue to unfold.