"Every year we try and make people think, and we want them
to understand that we are not just those kids that go about life
doing this and that, but we actually have a voice." -YT Member

"These kids are so talented. They're just as good as the kids from the elite
performing arts schools - as a matter of fact, they are more authentic."
-Audience Member

"I come to CAT to create theatre and have my voice heard. Since they won't listen
to a teenager off-stage, people have no choice but to listen to me on-stage."
-YT Member

"It's fun education... education isn't fun in school, but here, it's really fun to learn. I never thought I'd say those two in the same sentence." -YT Member

"We've not only proven that we can make the audience think,
but that we can do more than you think we can." -YT Member

"I was so glad that I brought my kids. We all three were fully engaged and had
interesting conversations about it through the rest of the day." -Audience Member

CAT Youth Theatre

CAT Youth Theatre News

Interested in creating original theatre based on your ideas? Do you have something to say? Will you be in 6th-12th grade in September? Apply to join the CAT Youth Theatre!

Apply here: bit.ly/CATYTApp, or call 212-652-2828.

About the CAT Youth Theatre

CAT Youth Theatre is a free, award-winning after school program that invests in young people and inspires them to thrive– on stage and in life.

The collaborative theatre process gives young people the opportunity to make new meanings from the material of their lives. Each year approximately 70 middle school, high school, and early college-aged young people from across the city create socially relevant, artistically sophisticated original plays while learning vital life skills enabling them to become self-confident, compassionate and accountable; develop relationships across differences; build community; and be prepared to act as contributing citizens.

Membership is free to the young people who participate. There are no auditions required – just a commitment to be an active participant of the CAT Youth Theatre community.

Each spring, the CAT Youth Theatre company (young people in high school) presents a full production of an original work in a professional venue. Three times a year, the Junior Youth Theatre company (young people in middle school) present original work at the CAT studio. Each group meets weekly throughout the year.

For more information call the Youth Theatre at (212) 652-2828, email Maureen.Donohue@cuny.edu or CLICK HERE to apply!

Have you seen Program Director Helen White's New Yorker of the Week segment? Check it out here and get a glimpse of the Youth Theatre in action.

Thank you for attending BLOOD

CAT Youth Theatre 2019 Original Production

BLOOD: A sometimes humorous sometimes harrowing look at what blood reveals about our humanity: Violence, vulnerability, life, health, death, family, ancestry…the ins and outs of blood.

BLOOD was created through playbuilding, which gives young artists the opportunity to hear their “ own voice echo off the walls” and make new meanings from the material of their lives.

Thank you to everyone who saw the production!

CAT Youth Theatre receives generous support from the New York City Council and is supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Follow CAT Youth Theatre on Facebook.

Click here to apply!

Also available:  Ask your school to work with CAT’s NYC Student Shakespeare FestivalMiddle School Program, or High School Program.


To provide young people with hands-on opportunities to create original theatre experiences from their own ideas that will stimulate:

  • Creativity
  • Self-esteem and resiliency
  • Broader horizons
  • A strong sense of community
  • Reflection on what it means to be a theatre-maker and an active, engaged citizen in society
  • Social awareness and activism through theatre.


Click here to apply!

Since its founding in 1995, CAT Youth Theatre has:

  • Presented over 50 original ensemble shows, all created and performed by members
  • Held 12-hour, non-stop, sponsored improvisation marathons
  • Performed, by invitation, in Chicago, London, the U.N., and as the first American company ever selected for the international Contacting the World Youth Theatre Festival in Liverpool, England
  • Motivated over 80% of its members to graduate from high school and go on to college
  • Seen alumni achieve careers in the arts, business, the military, and other pursuits. Several have returned after graduation to become professional CAT teaching artists

“The issues we touched on are really important and not things we learn about in our common core education – so to get to express our ideas and show that as young people we can make a difference – audiences knew we really care about the issues that are affecting us as young people.”
- Youth Theatre Member

“Keep CAT open forever. Never found a real home until I came to CAT.”
- Youth Theatre Member

"CAT Youth Theatre is about learning and growing. Everyone listens and is open without judgement. I don't know who I would be without CAT." - Youth Theatre Alum


Click here to apply!

CAT Youth Theatre 2018 original production: DOMINOES

DOMINOES can be made of bone, ivory, wood or plastic. They are passed down through generations, played at family gatherings. It’s a game of strategizing, bluffing and manipulation, of winning or losing. Lines of dominoes are set up just to get knocked down. Where do things start? What sets things off? A breath, a look, a push, a pull, a statement, a question, a passion, an injustice – one thing leads to another - escalating. Do we contribute to the fall? Or stop it? When do we want to be a catalyst? What kind of ‘domino effect’ can we have on our communities, lives, and the world? CAT Youth Theatre’s production DOMINOES explores these concepts in an original production created by the members of the company.

Hear from some members of the cast of DOMINOES here.

CAT Youth Theatre 2017 original production: LANGUAGE

LAN•GUAGE - A systemic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of signs, sounds, gestures, or marks. Language is used to include and exclude, to express love and hate, to oppress and to speak out against wrongs. But whose voices are dominating? What are they saying? How do we choose to use our voices? CAT Youth Theatre examines these questions and more in an entertaining and provocative original production. 


Broadway Artists Connection Benefit for CAT Youth Theatre

WALLS- 2016 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production

Previous Shows

Themes for investigation vary from year to year in response to the group’s interests and concerns. Recent shows include:


SEE-SAW- 2015 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production

The See-Saw: an iconic image of childhood, of playgrounds, of innocence. But a see-saw can also represent balance and extremes, highs and lows, instability and risk. There is a different view from each end of the see-saw – how does what we see effect what we perceive? Where are things balanced in society, and what inequities exist? How do we choose to live our lives - what struggles do we engage in? CAT Youth Theatre examines these questions and more in an entertaining and provocative original production.

IN TRUTH - 2014 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production

From childhood, we are told to tell the truth, believe certain truths, and be true to ourselves and to each other. But how do we know the truth? Whose truth dominates and how are we misled?   IN TRUTH asked audiences to consider their own relationships with truth. Within our families or within our society, what are the stories we are told and those we choose to tell? Why are certain things harder for us to talk honestly about? From sex to drugs, from our current relationships to our past history, the CAT Youth Theatre examined these questions and more in an entertaining and provocative original production.

INSIDE OUT - 2013 CAT Youth Theatre Original Production

What meaning can we make from viewing the world through the concept of Inside Out?  Sweaters and socks can be turned inside out - but so can people and lives. When do we view things from the inside out and when from the outside in? Can we ever know someone inside out? Through a myriad of themes including relationships, responsibilities, health, and poverty, the CAT Youth Theatre presents INSIDE OUT, an entertaining and provocative original piece.

“Our year began with a shooting on the street outside the Empire State Building – right around the corner from where we were meeting. Later in the semester, New York City was hit by hurricane Sandy. It was probably not surprising that much of our work seemed to be concerned with how easily our lives can be turned inside out,” says CAT Youth Theatre founder and program director Helen White. “And yet amongst the upheaval, it also became even more important to laugh and celebrate life. The show uses the concept of INSIDE OUT to constantly flip the way we view the world.”


What is our relationship to justice? Who does justice serve? When and how should we fight for justice?

In a time where celebrity court cases and high-profile crimes are all over the news and protests over injustices have erupted in New York and around the globe, questions of what is just, and how justice is even defined, are more relevant than ever. The CUNY Creative Arts Team's CAT Youth Theatre will explore many facets of justice in its upcoming original production of SEEKING JUSTICE, created by the members of the CAT Youth Theatre.

"SEEKING JUSTICE developed from the young people's observations on how they see the Justice System and then reflecting on what justice really is - and should be" says CAT Youth Theatre founder and program director Helen White. "Since November, the 31 members who are working on this production have been researching different kinds of justice - from the legal system to street justice, from vengeance to forgiveness, from families to schools - to generate original theatre that grapples with the question what IS justice? And who should decide?"

The Power Game: Looked at relationships to power, responsibilties of power, and what kinds of power young people have.

From Time to Time: Toured to communities of older adults and explored the question, “What does it mean to have lived a good life?’

What Lies Beneath: Explored death, grief, Alzheimer’s, suicide, sexuality, Facebook.

Gone to Look for America: “What does it mean to be American?” Themes included politics, history, race, debt, and the struggles of everyday New Yorkers.

War Zones: Explored literal and metaphorical sources of conflict, including HIV/Aids, gangs, the role of the media, home and family.



NYSCA  logo DCA logoThis program is supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


Click here to apply!

Get involved- Join the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre

Launched in 2013, the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre are Youth Theatre Alumni and other supporters who produce events for the Youth Theatre community to come together to perform, celebrate, socialize, and raise funds to support the program.

We need your help! Current Friends volunteer opportunities include:

Providing food for rehearsals
Assisting with load in and/or strike
Box Office and Ushering
Media and Publicity Support

Are you interested in getting involved with the Youth Theatre?  Want to help us plan activities, produce reunion events, fundraise, and keep the Youth Theatre community active throughout the year (and be a part of it yourself)? What ideas do you have?

Join the Friends of the CAT Youth Theatre! If you are interested in becoming a Friend, click here and let us know!

Helen White
Program Director

Joey Schultz
Associate Program Director

Maureen Donohue
Program Manager



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