Teen Stage and TV Production Studios "The Media Unit" Closing after 43 Years
A long-running teen stage and TV production program credited with increasing awareness of social and cultural issues in Syracuse is closing its doors. The Media Unit has brought its free, award-winning performances to audiences in Central New York and beyond for 43 years.
The Unit was a hands-on training ground for teens and young adults who were encouraged to develop characters and situations that explored heavy topics such as racism, sexism, and other biases. Founder and executive producer Walt Shepperd says many times, teens or their friends experienced those same situations in their families or the community. The performances also helped young audiences understand how theater can be an outlet and tool to idenfity feelings, explore new ideas, and push for social change.
Many might also know Shepperd as an award-winning journalist, mostly covering local politicians for nearly 50 years in the Syracuse New Times.
The studios at 327 Montgomery Street are closing their doors after 43 years. An open house and equipment donation event will be held this Saturday from 12:30 to 4.
THE BEGINNING AND THE END
The Media Unit had a rather unlikely beginning. It was largely borne out of an incident that opened Walt Shepperd's eyes to the realities youth were facing in 1976.
The end of the Media Unit was also about as uncertain and undetermined as it's early days, though Shepperd says it's been in the works for awhile. Just like the beginning, it was the teens who decided its future.