The SOS Teen Touring Company (originally SOS Players) began in 1990 with a troupe of 20 teen actors and one primary adult leader. In their first year, they performed 33 shows, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today, we have locations based in Hudson and Saint Paul, and maintain a touring cast of 60 actors aged 13 to 18. SOS reaches an average of 20,000 audience members per year. We perform for six to eight organizations (schools, professional organizations, conferences, community groups) each month of the school year, often presenting multiple performances for a given group.
SOS’s repertoire of dramatic sketches—and the community of youth and adult and staff who produce them—center on the merits of individual responsibility. Our original presentations address and illuminate serious issues that youth face related to substance abuse, struggles with depression, bullying, racism, and sexual and physical abuse.
In the course of our history, we’ve enabled hundreds of students, in their after school and summertime hours, to build leadership and artistic skills and community connections—sometimes life-saving ones—as members of our company. In addition to attending rehearsals and performances, they sign a code of ethics, pledging to remain drug and alcohol free, maintain all family and social obligations, and maintain scholastic standards. Their dedication pays off: they reach tens of thousands of audience members each year, and together they build a community that supports their own—and one another’s—healthy choices.
In the summer, SOS held an Education Series for our Teen Touring Company. SOS engaged professional speakers to discuss the issues that we address in our sketches. The intent with this series is that the teens will be better educated on the issues and be more equipped to apply the tools learned in their own lives. (Psychologist Dr. Michael Huntley on Depression, Divorce and Cutting and Deb Lyness from YMCA on Healthy Living and Nutrition.) During the next school year SOS will have a speakers on addiction, body image and abuse. The continuing challenge facing SOS is to successfully attain these goals while maintaining a high level of artistic quality in our programs.
SOS’s unique performance format directly addresses the issues that young people face on a daily basis. By linking the performance elements to our personal choices, the arts highlight our individual responsibility and actions in situations. Performance is a vital medium to explore who we are and where we want to go as a society or community.