The Youth Education/Entertainment Series (YES) in Santa Monica, known for its theatrical adaptations of children’s books at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, has been selected as the 2008 “Outstanding New Children’s Theatre Company” by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

By receiving the honor, YES joins prior winners such as the Adventure Stage Chicago and Dallas Children’s Theatre.

Series co-founder Anne Gesling accepted the award at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education national conference in Atlanta July 26th. The American Alliance for Theatre and Education is considered “the leading national organization for theater educators and artists who use drama in the classroom.”

The new children’s theater company award honors a theater company serving young audiences that has been in operation at least two, but not more than five years. Award criteria include a high level of artistic production, sound management practices and community engagement.

In his recommendation of YES to receive the award, Tom Whaley, visual and performing arts coordinator for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, wrote, “I see it as a win-win in terms of younger students seeing older students and adult actors on stage, reinforcing literacy and allowing students to attend a live theater performance in a real theater.”

The Youth Education/Entertainment Series has a three-pronged mission — to engage young audiences, develop young talent and support literacy.

The company produces five literature-based plays each year.

Shows are presented for school field trips on weekdays and for the general public on weekends. Past YES productions have included Junie B. Jones, Charlotte’s Web, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. In 2006 the series hosted the world premiere of By the Great Heart Spoon, adapted in collaboration with the book’s author, Newberry Award-winner Sid Fleischman.

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