By Sean Ryan
The Fox Riverside Theater Foundation is helping high school students from Riverside find career paths in theater arts.
A.J. Diaz, a Southern California-based stage technician and recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton, began working as a stage technician during his senior year at Ramona High School.
“It is through Ramona High School’s film (Career Technical Education) program that I got to work with the Fox Foundation,” Diaz said.“While the Fox Foundation provided many amazing programs to local schools, it was their Live Tech workshop that helped me blossom my career in the entertainment industry.”
The foundation is a stand-alone nonprofit group whose mission is to help local students and young adults from underserved communities pursue careers in theater.
Programs and workshops like Live Tech help these students and young adults get hands-on training on the stage and behind the scenes.
“Through fundraising events and donations we are able to hire Live Nation staff to do the workshops.” Cynthia Wright, director of the foundation, said. “This allows professional mentors to train students in all aspects of theater such as handling the equipment used in shows, lighting, visual effects and much more.”
Wright said professional performers from musical shows playing at the Fox offer dance classes to students.
The Fox Riverside Theater Foundation has sponsored 300 high school seniors and served 62 schools to date.
The Fox Theater in downtown Riverside has stood as a landmark since William Fox first purchased the building from West Coast Theaters in 1928.
During World War II, the Fox was converted to a dormitory for housing soldiers.
“At the end of the 20th Century the city of Riverside bought the theater and converted it to a performing arts center,” Wright said.
From that time the theater was used by Hollywood as a way to preview future films before their final edit. The very first public screening of the American classic “Gone with the Wind” was held at the Fox in Riverside.