Central High School’s theatre department is home to one of the fastest growing theatre programs in California. With three full time theatre teachers, twenty course offerings, and multiple play productions each year, there’s something for everyone.
The History of the ITC (Industrial Theatre Company)
The Industrial Theatre Company (ITC) began in 1994, when Katherine McKnight was hired to ‘jump-start’ a theatre program that had been dormant for several decades at Central High School. Central Unified was in the beginning stages of planning to build a new performing arts high school, complete with a state-of-the-art theatre.
While East Campus was being constructed, Ms. McKnight taught theatre at the West Campus with a few theatre classes and a handful of eager theatre students. Performances were held in Ms. McKnight's classroom in the school’s old Industrial Art Building (complete with industrial equipment and tools). Students took to their unique surroundings, and the Industrial Theatre Company was born.
A few years later, Ms. McKnight was able to move her rapidly growing theatre group to the new campus. Scott Ellis was hired as the technical director for the school’s new Performing Arts Center, and the PAC took on a life of its own as the theatre department continued to grow and flourish under Ms. McKnight direction.
In 1998, Ms. McKnight left Central Unified to take on another role with the Fresno Unified School District. The theatre program lay dormant for several years until hiring Sarah Pullen (who had once been among Ms. McKnight first students at Roosevelt School of the Arts). In 2001, forty students auditioned for Little Shop of Horrors which was directed by Miss Pullen with the help of Laurie Klein (accompanist and vocal coach) and Brad Black (choreographer). With Little Shop, the ITC was once again alive and growing.
Many years later, Central’s theatre program is still flourishing and expanded to add educators Matthew Bridges and Chris Berzac to the theatre department. While traditions have continued and ended, the number of ITC students and alumni continues to grow. Our students leave this program with a sense of place as well as the knowledge and skills to handle most of what the world has to offer them.
Thank you for patronizing Central’s Industrial Theatre Company. We look forward to many more years of success and support!