I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme is open-ended. My goal is to write daily posts using each letter of the alphabet in April (Sundays off for good behavior and to make it work for the alphabet). I’ll be writing family stories, memoir or journal prompts, reviews about theatre and food, maybe a visit from my sock puppet characters Millie and Willie, and using photos I’ve taken along the way. Enjoy!
My life has evolved into back to back theatrical productions, with some overlap. I started officially writing reviews for theatres in the metro (Minneapolis/St. Paul) about five years ago, but had started a few years earlier writing blog posts in support of the arts, particularly the performing arts, here in the Brainerd area. I could easily be attending shows to view and review every weekend, and then some. Jill Schafer, Cherry and Spoon blogger, attended over 200 shows last year, including the MN Fringe Fest. She lives in the metro, and theatre is her social life! I’m happy to be part of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers. Joining that group has caused an explosion in theatre contacts and experiences, and I feel it rippling out into the community, in the metro and here at home.
Today in the Brainerd lakes area, we have A Midsummer Night’s Dream performing on Stage North at the Franklin Arts Center. We have the closing performance of Spamalot on stage at the Central Lakes College Community Performing Arts Center. And, next week the Brainerd High School will be performing their first musical in about 30 years (the paper said 50, but a former teacher corrected that), Guys and Dolls. (Did I mention that my boy is playing Nicely Nicely Johnson?) They’ll be performing on the Tornstrom stage, and you can buy your tickets at the door.
What all this is leading up to is the theatre workshops I’m teaching at Central Lakes College (CLC). I have been a theatre fan all my life. I raised my hand quickly to take a part in any school skits, script reading, church plays, or drama experience. I’ve played Mollie Ralston in a high school production of The Mouse Trap, and Truvy in Steel Magnolias at the AAAA community theatre in Alexandria, MN, and many other parts. I wrote my own play, Coffee Shop Confessions, which I produced here in the Brainerd area, and performed in the coffee shops. I played one of my own characters, Aubrey. I heard rumblings from kids and parents that there weren’t any offerings for kids who want to try theatre. Sure, once in a while one of the local theaters would do something like Annie, or have a couple kids in a larger cast, but that’s it. Tons of kids would audition, a couple would get parts. Only one person gets to be Annie. The rest go home, and that’s it. I wanted to create a place for them to experience the art.
Thus, Play off the Page Theatre Workshops evolved. I write a beginning of a script, usually involving my constant companion characters Millie and Willie Cottonpoly, and give the kids a setting, and a situation. They take over the story from there, creating their own characters, and writing the rest of the story together. It is amazing how well they can work collaboratively. One mom put it nicely, “You give them the outline, and they fill in the details.” My biggest accomplishments, IMHO, is that I can have a group of about 13 middle school girls, and a couple boys, and they work together. In fact, when one walks in late, she’s cheered into the room!
It’s time consuming to teach children’s theatre workshops. It is both invigorating, in the moment, and energy draining (I crash when I get home). And, it is so worth it to see these kids come to life. To create with an openness you rarely get to experience any other place, and all the while, I know that I’m fostering a love for the performing arts. They are the actors, directors, supporters, and backstage crew and audience of the future. Thanks, CLC Performing Arts Center, parents, and anyone who supports the kids and arts. What a joy!
I’ll be offering more classes this Summer, Fall, and again in the Spring. I had my friend Marina and her daughter Nicole make a few costume pieces for me this time that I can use over and over again. Here’s a few more pictures. You can see more on my Play off the Page Facebook page. Most of the photos were taken by Krista Rolfzen Soukup.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What skill or interest has evolved in your life?