Monday, December 15, 2008

Everybody Loves Oz

Matt Wolfe, Kasey Nusbickel, SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell, Auston James and Todd Jefferson Moore.

Positive reviews of The Wizard of Oz have been flooding in (and we expect a few more this week). We're immensely proud of this show, and gladly accept all the pats on the back:

As expected, Seattle Children's Theatre takes loving care with "Oz," and the reward is how riveted their young audience is to every song, pratfall and witch's cackle… Kids watching the show are so attentive you can hear a ruby slipper drop.
Misha Berson, Seattle Times

Artistic Director [Linda] Hartzell went above and beyond to make this production a unique re-telling of a classic story rather than merely mimicking the film.
Brittni Reinertsen, Queen Anne News

If you think you know The Wizard of Oz, see this production anyway. It will transport you to a place you’ve never been before.
Christine Johnson-Duell, ParentMap

Even more important than the media kudos have been the compliments from our audiences, because, really, we make plays for people, not papers:

WOW – it was my first visit to your theatre and it was the best play I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of live theatre and this production was absolutely amazing – I think I would sit through it the second time just as enthralled! Whoever did the casting was brilliant in every part!
Connie W.

My daughter, her two children (aged 5 and 7), and I (Grandma) - all 3 generations were entranced by the performance. Not a weak link in the multi-talented actors/singers/dancers. A fantastic cast, musicians, scenery - a stellar production. Thank you!
Sonia, Rayna, Cameron & Barbara

I thought the performance was stellar! The staging, the costumes, and the acting, fabulous. I want you to know I saw the movie with my grandmother when I was 5 years old. I found myself at the end of the performance when they sang "Over the Rainbow" at the finale, I had tears in my eyes. I guess you know how much I loved it - terrific job!
Dixie P.

Photo by Chris Bennion

Don't miss out on this spectacular, magical production. The Wizard of Oz runs through January 17th.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Activity: Oz Words

The following activity was prepared by our Education department as part of their curriculum for The Wizard of Oz. You can easily substitute the provided words lists with words the reflect your desired lesson, or the context of the activity.

Oz Words

The objective of this activity is to physically activate words from The Wizard of Oz while exploring nouns and adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Oz Words can be done in a large group, small groups or pairs.

- Display the word list below (or one of your choosing) for all players. Have one person in each group choose a noun to depict with his/her body (without words). The other players will try to guess which noun the person is portraying. (You can also ask players to experiment with choosing adjectives that do and don't make sense with the noun).

- Once they have correctly guessed the noun, have another participant choose an adjective to modify the noun and portray that adjective with their body. The other players should try to guess what the adjective is. You could also choose to add a layer by allowing participants to choose more than one adjective to portray at a time.

Oz Word List
Nouns: Slippers, Monkeys, Poppies, Broom, Wizard, Road, Lion, Cowardly, Woodsman, Forest, Dog, Witch
Adjectives: Ruby, Flying, Poisonous, Enchanted, Wonderful, Yellow Brick, Cowardly, Tin, Wild, Little, Wicked

- For a variation, or to take the activity to another level, try using verbs and adverbs. Have players choose a verb and act it out, then have them layer on one or more adverbs.

- Take some time to discuss the differences between similar adverbs (e.g., creepily and spookily, or bravely and fiercely).

Oz Word List
Verbs: Flying, Skipping, Picking, Stealing, Running away, Chopping, Pouncing, Floating, Hiding, Waiting, Celebrating, Dancing, Grabbing, Chopping, Chasing, Clunking
Adverbs: Bravely, Neatly, Fiercely, Softly, Cowardly, Stiffly, Innocently, Creepily, Menacingly, Spookily, Gracefully, Loosely, Neatly, Quickly, Cleanly, Wildly

As always, we'd love to hear your comments if you try this activity with your group.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Memories of Oz

Last night was opening night of The Wizard of Oz, and I really had hoped to post these staff memories of Oz as part of the opening excitement. Instead, however, I got too wrapped up making this slideshow of pictures from the production.

So, now, here, shortly-delayed, are the favorite The Wizard of Oz memories from SCT staff. We hope you will join us to see this magical production, and create some new memories.

Whenever The Wizard of Oz came on TV at least my little sister and I made sure we watched it. But one of my most vivid memories is that of the “play” production of Oz that my young neighbors (aged 4-12) and I decided to put on in my family’s basement for all of our parents and siblings, replete with a cardboard “balloon," munchkins, yellow paper “brick” road, a toy Toto, and Wizard’s den (our cold storage room which may not have been very visible to our patrons, but we were very young thespians).

Ellen Kesselman
Business Office Associate

I remember the Tinman’s accent in the film very clearly as the first time I recognized a different pattern of speaking than my own.

I also remember the first time I saw the film in colour [Editor's note: Tim's Canadian, thus the "extra" u.] (my parents didn’t like TV and had only a small B&W in their room that I got to watch occasionally (The seem to remember me doing so more than I do;) and being amazed when Dorothy entered OZ.

Seeing the movie in a park on Bainbridge Island was one of the first things I did when I moved here this summer.

Tim Jennings
Managing Director

My favorite memory of Oz has less to do with the actual film, which I don't like so much (I know, I know, I'll get help). My oldest niece, Kiersten, loved "Dorthsee" when she was about 4 years old (she's 14 now - they grow way, way too fast). This was before ALL the stores had those red sparkling shoes, so we went all over the place getting her a pair of "Dorthsee" shoes. My sister made her a costume for Halloween that year and went as the Wicked Witch and dressed my younger niece as Toto. It was definitely my favorite Halloween spent with them.

Jeannette Sanchez
Ticket Office Weekend Supervisor

When I was quite small, we watched The Wizard of Oz on TV when it came on once a year. We had a TV set in the basement, and every time the scary witch came on my siblings and I would retreat up a few steps, until we were practically bending over to peek at the show from the top of the stairs. As soon as the witch melted we would come running back down stairs to watch the end of the show. It wasn't until I was in high school and we got our first color TV that I found out the witch was green and the horse of a different color kept changing colors.

Sarah Mixson
Assistant Production Stage Manager

I remember very clearly the ah ha moment at about age 5 when I realized the significance between the black and white and the color. I remember thinking, “Now I get it. It was a dream!" [Editor's note: Or was it?]

Shelley Saunders
Director of Development

I am old enough to remember watching The Wizard of Oz every year on black and white TV. I cannot remember when I first watched it in color, but the impact was amazing -- stepping out into a world of color, the witch's terrifying green skin, the 'horse of a different color' joke. Even on the crude color T.V. we had back then, it was amazing. This was a common experience for people of my generation, I think. It not only made OZ seem more magical and menacing, it also made Kansas seem almost unbearably heartbreaking.

I have not watched the movie in years, but I do remember 'getting' at least one new thing every year I watched it: Realizing that the farmhands were the OZ companions; that they acquired their desired goals long before they were awarded them by the Wizard. I think the last joke I got (one I am glad to see is in SCT's version) is the deflating lawyerly insertion after the glorious proclamation:

"This is a day of independence
For all the Munchkins and their descendants!

If any."

Don Fleming
Summer Season Producer

My favorite memory of watching The Wizard of Oz is when my high school drama teacher played Lion in a local production. It was so inspiring to see my teacher perform. Until then I had no idea just how talented he was!

Andrea Ichikawa
Program Coordinator

[My wife’s] brother, now working for the US Treasury Department, would run screaming from the living room any time the witch's guards sang the "Oh-WEE-Oh... oh-WHOA-oh" song. He was convinced that if he ate an Oreo cookie, he would turn into one of the guards. "Or-REE-o.. oree-OH-oh"

Andy Jensen
Administrative Manager

We watched the movie on TV every year. It became so ingrained in me, that to this day, when I see the movie or play, I can tell you exactly where the commercial breaks came – “Poor little kid. I hope she gets home alright.” and now a word from Proctor & Gamble.

I also remember going to a neighbor’s house to watch it in color for the first time on their new TV. Suddenly Oz really was magical.

Rita Giomi
Artistic Associate

The Wizard of Oz runs in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre through January 17, 2009.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Greenscreen & The Emerald City

We found ourselves in a bit of a scheduling pinch earlier this month, which is to be expected given the ambitiousness of this season. It is just mid-November, and we're already facing our fourth opening since September, fifth if you include The Green Sheep's run in NYC. So, when it came time for the PR photo shoot forThe Wizard of Oz, we didn't have set pieces available to use as backgrounds.

So, we turned to virtual backgrounds instead (fortunately this production makes extensive use of projections, so we had backgrounds ready-made by Projection Designer LB Morse). And, while it isn't exactly cutting-edge, as weather forecasters have been using greenscreen and bluescreen for years and years, we were excited about our first foray into chroma key technology.

Julie Briskman as the Wicked Witch. Photo by Chris Bennion.

What most surprised me was how different the foreground image looks against its new backdrop. I didn't think we had gotten the shot I was looking for with the Wicked Witch, but somehow the dark, foreboding background made everything come together.

Kasey Nusbickel as Dorothy. Photo by Chris Bennion.

The difference here wasn't quite so dramatic, but it did elevate a nice portrait to a more iconic level. She looks movie-poster classic, which is exactly the look and feel we hoped to achieve.

The Wizard of Oz opens this Friday, November 21, 2008, and runs through January 17, 2009.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Activity: Pirate Wants a Ship

As part of every production, our Drama School develops a number of games and activities related to the show for use in workshops and residencies. Many of them are very specific to creative drama classes, but others work in any setting, and some of those we post here for you to enjoy.

As part of our Bluenose curriculum, we have this variant on musical chairs with a pirate theme.

Pirate Wants a Ship

Have players sit in chairs in a circle, with one chair-less person, the Pirate, in the middle. The object of the Pirate is to get a chair, the Ship; the objective of everyone else is to not let this happen, while frequently switching chairs with other people.

At the start of the game, the Pirate approaches any player and says "Pirate wants a ship." That player has the choice of two replies:
1) "Go ask my neighbor!" Then the Pirate must move on and ask someone else.
2) "Aaaargh!" At this, everyone gets up and switches places, and the Pirate tries to steal a seat.

While this is happening, anyone can switch chairs at any time. The players seated in the circle try to make eye contact with each other and silently agree to switch without being caught by the Pirate.

If the Pirate steals a chair during the switch, the player left standing without a chair becomes the new Pirate.

Once you've played this way for a bit, you can add these options to make the game a little trickier. Give the Pirate three more options for what they can choose to say:
1) "The wind blows right!" All players must try to move on seat to their right.
2) "The wind blows left!" All players must try to move on seat to their left.
3) "Tidal wave!" All players must run to the middle of the circle like a wave, and then must find a seat.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What's the big idea?

We're in our second full week of Bluenose, and teachers and classes in particular love the show. We asked the teachers that attended the first week for feedback, and were overwhelmed with the response.

Particularly interesting was this letter from Cindy Numata, a second-grade teacher at Lowell Elementary School:

Our class LOVED this play!

Brandon Simmons and Hana Lass in Bluenose. Photo by Chris Bennion.

In our reading, we are trying to identify the "big ideas" or "author's lessons." Before the play, I told them that the play was about pirates, but we should also be looking for the "big ideas." When we got back from the show, I had the students write that "the play was about pirates, but on a deeper level, it was about: ______________________. "

Here are things the students came up with and that I kept track of on a class chart.

* Someone might be different but you shouldn't be mean to them.
* Diversity is good.
* Don't be afraid of differences.
* It's OK to be different.
* You can be the boss of yourself.
* Trust yourself.
* You should make your own choices.
* Knowledge if valuable.
* The boss isn't always right.
* You don't know everything.
* You may look different, but you can find similarities.
* You should learn different things.
* Don't be a know-it-all.

Fantastic ideas, all. Thanks to Ms. Numata's class for sharing.

Bluenose runs through December 14th, 2008 in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Opening Night!

It's opening night of Bluenose, and things are jumping around here. Opening nights are always fun and it is incredibly satisfying to get a show you've worked so hard on to stage.

Tim Hyland as pirate captain Ratt. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Come on down and check out this rollicking pirate tale. And, if you need a little convincing, check out the Seattle P-I preview. Many, many positive reviews to follow, I'm sure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me

We are mere days from opening night of Bluenose, the first official show of our Mainstage Season. And tonight is the final tech dress rehearsal, meaning that my favorite photographer, Chris Bennion, will be joining me this evening for a photo shoot of the production.

What I most enjoy about working with Chris is that he gets theatre, really understands how much fun it is to work in this business. That, and the fact that he is always looking to capture the impromptu moments that happen around our shoots.

For example, Chris was quick enough with his camera to catch Bluenose director Allison Narver hanging off the rigging demonstrating her best Errol Flynn pose.

I love these kinds of candid images because they really capture the behind-the-scenes spirit here at SCT. And because I love Allison's fierce pirate captain hat.

Bluenose opens October 17th and runs through December 14th in SCT's Eve Alvord Theatre.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thank you TeenTix!

We kicked of the run of Night of the Living Dead in style last week with our TeenTix preview event. Attendees got decked out in zombie make-up and absolutely rocked the house - the gasped, laughed and screamed their way through the zombie carnage.

Many thanks to everyone that came to the event, and to TeenTix for helping us set up the event.

BTW, the reviews are out, and everybody loves the zombies! (Go to "2008 Special Perfs" in the drop-down menu.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Night of the Living TeenTix

We've cooked up a special event for Night of the Living Dead with our friends over at TeenTix. Check out their blog for all the details, but essentially we're inviting TeenTix members to a free sneak preview this Thursday October 2nd!

Galen Joseph Osier, Troy Fischnaller and Sarah Harlett in SCT's Night of the Living Dead. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Because Night of the Living Dead is a special event and not part of our Mainstage Season, this will be the only opportunity to use your TeenTix card and benefits for this show.

Join TeenTix and SCT for some food, fun and MORE BRAINS!

And don't forget to check out our Zombies at SCT! page on Facebook for PR photos, rehearsal video and audio clips.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A few minutes with Tim Jennings

Our new (as of August) Managing Director, Tim Jennings, was kind enough to sit down with Behind the Curtain for a few minutes and talk about the path that led him to SCT, the state of TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences), and his favorite theatre memory.

Can't get enough? Tune in to Radio Disney 1250AM on October 12th at 6:30am to hear Tim and Education Director Karen Sharp discuss all things SCT with Kids Care host Dayna.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Green Sheep does Broadway!

The cast of The Green Sheep has landed in NYC and started their Broadway run at The New Victory Theatre. By all reports, they are having a great time in NYC (they played to Heath Ledger's daughter! Rachel Ray's studio is next door to their apartment!) and all of us left behind are incredibly jealous.

But, they've sent us some photos so we can live vicariously through them, and promise to send more.

The Green Sheep's Broadway marquee.

Connor Toms and Matt Johnston relaxing on the set.

Matt Johnston setting up on the set.

The cast and crew will be home at the end of the month to start the Seattle run - come on down and welcome them back!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The reports of their demise...

If you've heard any disturbing reports of zombies wandering Seattle Center, fear not. We held out first photo shoot for Night of the Living Dead on Sunday, and the Center was packed with visitors, many of whom stopped and snapped pictures as our zombies lumbered about with a photo crew in tow.

Troy Fischnaller and Galen Joseph Osier from SCT's Night of the Living Dead. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Really, we're having more fun than anyone has a right to have with this production, and the photo shoot was no exception. Special thanks to Chris Bennion, who does nearly all our photography, for his incredible patience and willingness to roll on the ground and stumble through gardens getting us some great shots.

Galen Joseph Osier and Troy Fischnaller chase Sarah Harlett (as Barbara) out of the theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Prepare yourself for the zombie onslaught that begins opening night, October 3rd, and runs through Halloween weekend. And if you just can't wait until then, stop on by our Facebook page, where you can find set designs, costume sketches and photos from rehearsals (coming soon - audio and video previews from the show!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And we're off!

For those of us working here, the 2008-09 Mainstage Season is underway (the audience will have to wait for just one more month). Yesterday, we welcomed the casts of Night of the Living Dead and The Green Sheep with caffeine, pastries and a reception filled with introductions and design presentations.

We only get to rub elbows with the Sheepers for a few days before they jet off to present the show on Broadway at the the New Victory Theatre. They return mere days before Opening Morning (now that's a rarity) October 1st.

The Zombie folks, however, will be working diligently right here, and yesterday I had the opportunity to sneak in and watch the first zombie movement workshop with our talented Choreographer Kathryn Van Meter.

It was too much fun - lots of laughter, jokes about the finer points of brain cuisine, and fabulous actor energy. The full photo set can be found at our Facebook page for Night of the Living Dead - Zombies at SCT!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Video Coda

The great exodus is in full swing. The first of our summer interns left the fold last week, more will leave next week, and today we had to say goodbye to our PR/Marketing intern Anna Renzetti. Anna did a great job in support of Summer Season, and finished her last project today: editing this video interview with intern and Urinetown: The Musical Stage Manager Liz Carey-Linskie.

Summer interns! We love you and will miss you and wish you well!

The rest of you? Come down and check out the final weekend of Urinetown.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We interrupt this programming...

...for an announcement about the upcoming 2008-09 season.

In support of SCT's production of Night of the Living Dead, we have launched a Facebook page called Zombies at SCT!.

We've already posted scenic models, costume sketches and the schedule for our Celebrity Guest Zombies, and plan to add more photos and audio/video previews once rehearsal begins in early September. Plus, you can find information about the Zombie Street Team and special Zombie Workshop offered by SCT's Drama School.

Check it out, and if you're a Facebook member, become a fan!

Hope to see you at the theatre! And now back to our regularly schedule summer programming.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Imagination and Sword Adventures in Second Week of Summer Season

The second week of SCT's Summer Season was a success! These two fun performances taught us about the joy of imagination at any age and the excitement of adventure. If you missed these young actors take the stage, here are the cast photos for a peek.

The cast of Ernie's Incredible Illucinations, written by Alan Ayckbourn and directed by John Kaufmann.

The cast of Vesuvia!, written by Don Fleming and directed by Gordon Carpenter.

Be sure to catch this weeks shows, Medieval Farces and High School Hamlet!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Opening Night!

The first two shows of SCT's Summer Season, where the professional actors take a break and let our talented Drama School students take the stage, opened tonight. Today was an absolute whirlwind, with both shows in dress tech rehearsal and photo shoots. The directors and casts have done an amazing job, and we just had to share their opening night all-cast photos with you.

The cast of Cam Jansen, written by Rachel Atkins and directed by Gillian Jorgensen.

The cast of Beauty Idol, written by Cheryl L. West and directed by Carol Roscoe.

Come on out this weekend and get an early look at the future of American theatre.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Day in the Life of an SCT Intern

Education Intern Julie Mercurio takes us through her day as a busy assistant to theatre artists and drama students.

July 11, 2008

This morining...
I continued to work on Play Development, a really unique class. Five students take part in the writing, rehearsing, and general development of their very own play, which they will perform at the end of the month-long class. I really love it because I get to take part in a lot of the work they are doing (and they don't even realize it!).

After the first class...
I am feeling lucky to be able to work with the same students for three more weeks. The class is so small and each student is very different-their ideas are really creative and expansive. I couldn't imagine saying goodbye to them yet!

At lunch break...
I walked over from the lobby patio to the Center House Theatre. Fridays are always hectic and between last day wrap-ups and crazy Theatre Arts Splash schedules, break times are tight. A little time to myself during Splash break will be much enjoyed.

After my second class...

I am exhausted and ready for a bit of time off this weekend. I realize how much I love Splash- our group this week was absolutely amazing, imaginative, enthusiastic, and so well-behaved! It's refreshing to end the day with such great students.

Now at the end of the day...

Part of me is ready for the rest but the reality is that I will have to wait one more day - Saturday classes start tomorrow! I am not looking forward to getting up so early on Saturdays now, but I am looking forward to the class, Story Drama. It's a class I really love and can't wait to revisit some of my favorite childhood books.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meg Tully Speaks

Meg Tully is another aspiring theatre education intern at SCT sharing her experiences.

1) Why did you want to be an intern for Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School this year?

Since the University of Arizona has a partnership with SCT I had been planning on applying for this internship after graduation for about two years. I feel that I would be better prepared for the internship if I waited until after I graduated and would also be able to stay in Seattle for the fall without having the obligation of going back to school.

2) Where did you grow up and get your theatre interests?

I was born, raised, and attended college in Tucson, Arizona. My family did not have an artistic background so my passion for theatre was somewhat of an anomaly. I really became interested in theatre around 6th grade when I discovered The Phantom of the Opera and other musicals. As a teenager I spent hours listening to show tunes in my room and participated in every play my high school produced. I’ve always known that theatre has been the path for me. So an education and a career in it has been the clear choice.

3) What have been your biggest challenges so far as an intern?

One of my biggest challenges I’ve encountered as an intern is learning how to interact with children in a way that consistently keeps them engaged. However, SCT has a very distinct style that almost all the teaching artists follow. This style is also modeled very well by the SCT Education Staff during intern training, so it has been relatively easy adapting on my own.

4) What is the most important skill you have learned teaching in the Drama School?

I have learned some a very valuable improv philosophy in our intern workshops with John Kaufmann. He really emphasizes the “yes, and” principle of improv, and this is applicable to almost every class, but especially creative drama.

5) Are there things you weren’t expecting that you have experienced?

I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting to have as much fun as I’ve experienced since being here. It’s been great having the opportunity to play again and just be a kid sometimes.

6) What is your favorite part of the day as an intern at SCT?

I can pinpoint a certain consistent part of everyday that is always my favorite because each day and week is unique, and I usually enjoy several parts of the day for different reasons. However, the best moments always come when all the students, the teaching artist, and the intern are completely engaged in the moment and in the creative process. Fortunately, at SCT these moments occur frequently.

7) What age group are you teaching and which age groups have you liked best? Why?

I have spent most of my time so far with 4-7 year-olds. I really like 4-5 year-olds because they have a strong desire to please and learn. I also find that they are very creative and often quite hilarious without even trying.

8) If you had advice for a future theatre education intern, what would you say?

Don’t be afraid of anything-just dive right into everything head firsts. Make friends with the other interns, go out, have fun, share stories. Also, take notes and learn as much as possible!

9) What do you hope to do after this experience? What is your next step?

I have fallen in love with Seattle and SCT’s program. I have decided to establish residency and participate in the theatre apprentice program that runs during the school year. I also plan on applying for the school year apprenticeship. I would like to develop a career as a teaching artist and theatre professional here in Seattle.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sarah Malone Speaks

Sarah Malone is another theatre education intern working hard with the SCT Drama School this summer.

1) Why did you want to be an intern for Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School this year?

I just graduated and wanted to gain more experience in the field to help prepare me for finding a job. Also, SCT offers such great programs so I knew I would learn a lot.

2) Where did you grow up and get your interest in theatre?

I grew up in Champaign, Illinois. My whole family has always been involved in the arts so I had a lot of early exposure. I started out as a dancer but ended up loving theatre when I was in my first play at age 14.

3) What have been your biggest challenges as an intern so far?

I would say the biggest challenge has been adapting to the SCT style of teaching. SCT has a very specific style and curriculum. They are wonderful. I still have a lot of learning to do.

4) What is the most important skill you have learned teaching in the Drama School?

I have been learning a lot of “tricks” so far. Everyone has their own classroom management style and it’s been great gaining exposure to all of those ideas.

5) Are there things you weren’t expecting that you have experienced?

I didn’t realize just how much in-depth training we would be getting. It’s great!

6) What is your favorite part of the day as an intern at SCT?

The whole day is full of adventures and every week is completely different, so it’s hard to say. What I really enjoy is journaling at the end of the day. It’s my chance to reflect on all that has happened and what I’ve learned.

7) What age group are you teaching and which age groups have you liked best? Why?

So far I’ve worked with ages 4-16. I honestly don’t have a favorite. I think each age group has its perks and its challenges. But if I had to choose, I would say the 4-year-olds. They were just so cute!

8) Who are the teachers you are working with? And what have you learned from them?

I have worked with Rosie[Currier], Keni [Cohen], Beth [Raas], Samara [Lehrman], and Keira [McDonald]. Each of them have their own style, so basically I have learned a lot, way more than I can even write.

9) If you had advice for a future theatre education intern, what would you say?

Get lots of sleep, journal about your experiences, enjoy it, and have an open heart and open mind.

10) What do you hope to do after this experience? What is your next step?

I will be moving to Chicago and will hopefully have a job at a theatre there in the education department.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Adria LaMorticella Speaks

Adria Lamorticella is a Summer Education Intern at Seattle Children's Theatre, and is the first of many Education interns you'll meet this summer at Behind the Curtain.

1. Why did you want to be an intern for Seattle Children's Theatre Drama School this year?

I love doing theatre for children especially because I just graduated from Western [Washington University] with a BA in Theatre Education. But mostly, I remember at a young age how amazing and moving theatre was for me. I thought this internship would be a wonderful opportunity for me to help make a similar experience possible for other children.

Where did you grow up and get your interest in theatre?

I grew up in a little town called Elmira, Oregon. No one in my family was really involved in theatre but we saw it often and I was enthralled with it. I took drama classes as soon as I could in middle school and have ever since.

3. What have your biggest challenges as an intern been so far?

During training week we were given SO much info, and it seemed like I'd never learn it all even though they honestly do such a thorough teaching job here. But it has been clicking and falling into place. Other challenges have been finding appropriate classroom management skills for each class since each group is different. But I feel like I've been learning so much every single day.

4. What is the most important skill you have learned teaching so far?

From the teaching artists, other interns, and the students themselves I have learned so much about classroom management. I know by the end of the summer the new things I will have learned will be able to fill volumes .

5. Are there things you weren't expecting that you have experienced?

One thing I wasn't expecting was how much the students teach me, on an intellectual level ( like, "actually Mt. Everest in in Nepal" said a 4-year-old). But also, you can learn about teaching all you want but until you're there with the kids you don't really know what it's like.

6. What is your favorite part of the day as an intern at SCT?

For me, the most amazing thing has been doing creative drama with the 4- and 5-year-olds who are so willing to believe. It is so heartwarming when you are acting out an adventure and on the spot you have to become a bear to give the students some clues, but then literally 3 seconds later you're your 'teacher self ' again and the kids turn to you and say "where were you? We just saw a bear!"

7. What age groups have you taught? Which do you liked teaching best?

I've taught 4- and 5-year-olds and also 9- and 10-year-olds. As I said before, the little ones can be just charming but on a regular basis I'd say my favorite age group is about 9- and 10-year-olds. They're still kids but they can be clever and witty. There are also generally less accidents involving drool and pee.

8. If you had advice for a future theatre education intern, what would you say?

Find time to take breaks, rest, and get good sleep. It feels like you're being overwhelmed with info in the beginning, but if you make sure to relax, when the time comes it all falls into place. And of course have fun! When you have fun, the kids have fun.

9. What do you hope to do after this internship? What is your next step?

Well, ideally I hope to act. Really, I'd love to act for SCT someday. That would be my dream. Unless I can be persuaded otherwise and continue on in the education program, which I hear happens quite often actually.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Interns 2008

Hello, my name is Anna Renzetti and I am this summer’s PR and marketing intern. I can’t believe it is only the third week and already I have learned so much. Coming from Salt Lake City, Utah to Bellingham for school and now to Seattle for work has been such a crazy transition for me. Everyone said I should be scared to enter the “real world” but truthfully I have never felt more ready to do something real with myself. Working with Seattle Children’s Theatre so far has made me realize how many people are involved in getting a play on stage. I’ve learned how important it is to have people promoting shows, educating actors, getting sponsors, answering phone calls, and most importantly connecting with and supporting the theatre community.

I am delighted to be the one to get the intern blog started. After meeting all the interns in the last few weeks I can tell you what great energy they have and how ambitious they all are to pursue their interest in theatre arts and education. On this blog I hope to introduce you to many of them. They are coming from all over the U.S. and have some great stories to tell you about their experiences here at SCT.

I can’t wait to hear from them and I hope you can respond to anything you relate to or want to comment on. I look forward to hearing from you as well!

Anna Renzetti, PR intern

Seattle Children’s Theatre

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summertime, and the livin's easy

SCT goes through quite a transformation at the end of each Mainstage season. Much of our Production staff departs for the summer, returning when the building of sets and stitching of costumes resumes in earnest late in the summer. The vacations postponed due to the breakneck pace of the Mainstage season finally take shape, so there a few faces missing every week.

But the real difference is all of the new faces around. Drama School classes are in full swing, and everywhere you look there are students enthusiastically, noisily creating art and forging new friendships. We also get a new crop of summer interns ready to learn how to engage young people in theatre arts.

This summer, some of those interns will be helming the blog, giving them a chance to tell you what working in the SCT Drama School, producing our Summer Season, is really like.

So check back here in the coming weeks for day-in-the-life accounts, interviews, photos and videos produced by our summer interns. And don't be shy about dropping a comment and letting them know how much their work is appreciated, because goodness knows we aren't paying them enough.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Season in Review

Our 07-08 Mainstage season closes this Sunday, and it has been a great ride. It started with the big, brash blast that is High School Musical, took us through Giant Country and to Fantastica and on to a castle in Denmark. It taught lessons about bullying and friendship and what exactly people do all day, not to mention giving us some time with that trickster, Coyote.

It was such a fun year, we put together this little homage to the season that was.

We've got even more fun planned for next year, with zombies and pirates and a certain road of yellow bricks you may have heard of, so we hope you'll join us again. And don't forget to check back for all of the great Summer Season programming that our Drama School will be presenting in the coming months.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Get out the vote!

Seattle Children's Theatre has been nominated for Nickelodeon's Parents Picks Award, and while it is an honor to be nominated, we want to win! If you'd like us to win, too, why don't you mosey on over to Nick's and give us your vote. Fair warning, you do have to register to vote, but can do it daily until June 30th.

If you'd rather not register, but still want to vote and support your favorite children's theatre, why not take a trip over to's People's Picks and vote us favorite local theatre company. You can vote once daily until June 1st.

Vote early and vote often!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What do these ladies do all day?

Today, instead of just one staff member, you get three! The fact that they are three of Behind the Curtain's very favorite people in the whole building is just an extra added bonus.

What does the box office staff do all day? We sell and print tickets, of course – about 200,000 of them each year!!! We also spend lots of time answering questions and providing our patrons with all the information they will need to have a great time at the theatre.

We are the only office in the theatre that is open 7 days a week – we have a staff of 9 (2 full-time and 7 part-time people) -- but only 3 of us are here at one time since our office is only 166 square feet!!!

Cindy Wilder
Ticket Office Manager

Combining surly with sweet...

I deal with the uninformed public.
I answer calls from frantic stage parents. I deal with people asking me about the copier all day. I have very important conversation about dinosaurs and dragons. Everyday one little boy screams boo! at me while I am in the middle of doing something else.

Kimberly Rabb

And the award for most packed into a single sentence...

I come in at 9 and check my 103 email messages while my supervisor is getting me coffee and then I run downstairs at 9:30 and count children for Busytown and then at 10:00 I run across the lobby and count children for According to Coyote and then at 10:30 I come upstairs and listen to my 43 phone messages and try to call the teachers back and then at 12:00 I run back downstairs and count children for According to Coyote and then at 12:30 run across the lobby to count children for Busytown and then I run upstairs and stand in line to use the microwave to heat up my “Lean Cuisine” lunch and then I answer emails and make up seating charts and go to the bathroom and visit a few staff members - until I go home at 5.

Sue Brekke
School Shows Assistant

To find out what people in Busytown do all day, stop on by SCT and check out Busytown, running through June 15th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guest Reviewer Ema and Busytown

Behind the Curtain welcomes back guest reviewer Ema M, originally referred to us by the fine folks at Hugo House. Ema came down to see opening night of Busytown, and shares her thoughts with us below.

The most notable feature of Busytown was the extraordinarily bouncy, catchy songs. The small children you likely brought to the play will probably be singing “The Pickle Song” for the next two weeks, so it’s a good thing it’s a cute tune.

The cast was impressive; carrying off strong musical numbers and coherent children’s dialog is surprisingly difficult, perhaps the reason that it’s rather difficult to find plays directed at the three through six age group that their adult escorts can sit through. Busytown succeeds admirably. High energy, engaging characters and fun songs make this one guaranteed to entertain even the most easily distracted three year old for the hour and something minutes it runs.

The adventures of Huckle Cat, looking for ways to help around the town and plan Betsy Bear’s grandma’s birthday are sweet, but not sickly. The play is pretty fast-paced which is appropriate for the age group, but not so fast that it loses the audience.

For fans of the Richard Scarry books - don’t worry, Busytown the play isn’t going to ruin them. The play does not take ridiculous liberties with the original text but the musical element removes the play enough from the book to enjoy them both in different ways and not constantly compare the two.

The diversity in the cast is very well used and celebrated; never feels forced or unnaturally politically correct, perhaps because it is allowed to be subtle (although clearly visible) and take a secondary seat to the species of the character. The actors did skillful switches between characters assisted by fun costumes.

Fun would probably be the best word to describe Busytown in general; although it contains some educational themes like jobs, maps and basic anatomy, it never takes itself too seriously. If you’re looking for an engaging Friday or Saturday night out with kids, Busytown is a vivacious, entertaining romp.

Busytown runs through June 15th in the Charlotte Martin Theatre at Seattle Children's Theatre.

All photos by Chris Bennion.

What Does Torrie Do All Day?

Our journey through the daily lives of SCT staff continues with a stalwart of the Marketing and Artistic staffs, Torrie McDonald.

Every time I tell someone my job title, Literary & Publications Manager, I get a pretty standard response, “Oh. Neat. So, what is that? What do you do?”

And every time I’m asked that, I realize that I do a lot of different things in places you might not expect to find me based on the job title, and I do a lot of stuff that may look like I’m not really doing anything. But definitely, there is no one average day.

For example, today I checked email and responded to inquiries from other theatres wanting to know about rights to shows we’ve done in the past; shows we haven’t done, but they think we did; and shows we haven’t done, they know we never did, but just want my help anyway. Then I responded to the playwrights who sent me emails and/or scripts to read, thanking them for their interest, but I’m sorry, SCT does not accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from playwrights. That part kind of sucks. It’s hard to say no, but if we said yes to everyone, I’d be buried under an even larger mountain of paper than the one growing in my office now. And some of the stuff that comes my way…well, let’s just say that a gritty, obscenity-laden script on the horrors of the Vietnam War is maybe not so appropriate for the 6-year-old set.

Then I sent an email to our web design/host company with some changes and fixes for our website. I hope they get done in time.

After that, I did some online research on animal rights for a talk I’m going to give our C.A.S.T class next week—for their fundraiser. They thought I’d just talk to them about marketing and posters, but since their efforts are going to support PAWS, and it’s a cause near and dear to me, I thought I’d do a little extra on this, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

Next, I tested the changes to our site that I had requested a few days ago, making tweaks and suggestions in hopes that they’ll get done in time.

Oh, then someone needed me to take a look at something they’re working on, so I can make edits and art direction suggestions.

While I’m at it, I wrote some copy for and designed a postcard to be mailed soon.

Then I avoided a couple of calls from sales people wanting to get me to use their print company. I’d love to take/have the time to talk with these folks and get a really juicy bidding war going, but no such luck. Instead, I have to (get to, really) read scripts. This is one of the absolute best parts of the job. Reading plays. The ones we know we’re going to produce I read and then write synopses, copy for the brochures, and curriculum connections to fit the themes (not all in one day, of course). Scripts that we may be interested in or received from someone we know, like an artistic director or literary manager, I read with a critical eye to see if I want to pass it along to Linda, our artistic director, for her to check out. She is the one who picks the plays we produce, but even my little part is so rewarding. Being able to read, evaluate, and suggest things to her and see the fruits of our labors on stage as the kids watch with rapt attention—I may not have a typical day, but I sure am lucky to have such atypical ones.

Torrie McDonald
Literary & Publications Manager

Check back soon for more of our "What Do People Do All Day? series.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Does Linda-Jo Do All Day?

The next installment of our "What Do People Do All Day?" series comes from one of the longest-tenured folks here at SCT, the lovely, talented and incredibly organized Linda-Jo Greenberg.

People are always surprised that a lot of my job sounds like any other business - email, phone calls, meetings. I do lots of budgets and scheduling; I type up contracts and do the payroll for artistic staff who are working on shows. But then there are the more unique parts of my job. Right now I am in the midst of the many layers of hiring actors. For each show I find out who the director wants to consider, set up the appointments, make lots of phone calls and answer questions about the shows, provide music and scripts to read, and then mop up afterwards - offer jobs to the lucky ones who get cast and make the sadder "no thank you" calls to the ones who don't. For any given show, it can be between 40 and 140 phone calls. Since we are casting a show a week for the next 6 weeks, mostly what I do all day right now is talk on the phone.

Another part of my job is to understudy the stage manager and production assistant for each show. We just opened Busytown, so this week I am sitting in the control booth next to Amy, with a copy of her script in front of me. That script has every light cue, sound cue and set move written down - what it is and when it happens. I have to make sure that her notes make sense to me so that I can step in if she gets sick. So far this year I have had to cover High School Musical and The Hundred Dresses. It is a challenge and exciting and scary to step in - because I don't get rehearsal! I just have to dive in for a performance and hope I don't make any mistakes big enough for the audience to notice. I also have to train backstage on the prop and set moves the assistant does. I had to do that for The Hundred Dresses also. In that role, I want to make sure to do everything right for the cast - if I miss something, they may have their performance affected.

I'm also company manager which means making plane and hotel reservations, picking people up at the airport and giving them their per diem cash. And I assist [Artistic Director] Linda Hartzell with her schedule and correspondence.

Linda-Jo Greenberg
Production Stage Manager/Company Manager

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Hundred Dresses Drawing Contest

In The Hundred Dresses, the students in Miss Mason's class competed in a drawing contest, designing their own dresses and motorboats. SCT's Education Department sponsored the same contest during the run of the play, and received over 160 entries.

The results were really incredible, especially when seen all together. All of the entries were displayed at SCT while the staff was invited to ooh and ahh and vote for the winner.

The overall winner is currently on display on SCT's website, but there were just too many good entries not to share some more. Here we have the next three highest vote-getters:

by Susanna

by Isabella

by Libby

Thank you to all of our participating artists!

What does Dave Misner do all day?

With a little encouragement, the submissions from SCT staff for our "What do people do all day?" series have been rolling in. Today, our first submission from our Backstage Crew.

What does Dave Misner do all day?

Dave starts a busy day at 7am, when his cat wakes him up to get her breakfast. After eating all his cereal, Dave gets ready to go to work at Seattle Children’s Theatre, where he plays the sound effects and manages the microphones for Busytown. When he gets to the theatre, he turns on all the sound equipment – a computer, a sound mixer, amplifiers and speakers. He checks everything to make sure it is all working before all the people arrive to watch the show. If there is a problem with anything, Dave needs to fix it quickly!

After the audience is all seated, Dave heads to the control booth with Amy, the Stage Manager, and Lauren, the Light Board Operator. When everything is ready, and the actors and crew are all in place, Amy starts the show and tells Dave, Lauren, and the Stage Crew when to play the sounds, or change the lights, or move the scenery. At intermission, while the audience is taking a break, the crews are all working to put everything in its proper place for Act II. When the second act is over, Dave turns off all the amplifiers and speakers, shuts down the computer and sound mixer, and puts away the microphones. Then he drives home where his cat is waiting for him to get her dinner.

Dave does this job six days a week, and sometimes he spends his whole day at the theatre, from 9 in the morning until 9 at night! On his day off from the theatre, Dave works for a famous glass artist named Dale Chihuly, putting up lights and making the glass look pretty.

When Dave has some spare time, he likes to go hiking in the mountains and taking pictures of waterfalls.

And that’s what Dave Misner does all day!

Dave Misner
Lead Sound Engineer

Many thanks to Dave, and don't forget to check out "Busytown", running through June 15th at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What DO people do all day?

We opened Busytown this past Friday. Busytown was written by Kevin Kling and is based on the Richard Scarry book What Do People Do All Day? So, we got the great idea to start asking that question around here, and all throughout the run of Busytown we'll be sharing the responses of SCT staff and artists with you. Today, our first entry in the series:

What do I do all day?

There's no such thing as a typical day for me.

For instance, last Saturday, I taught two classes of Physical Comedy, substituting for Keni Cohen, who is our physical comedy teacher extraordinaire. About twenty students from 9-12 years old learned how to fall down, trip and roll and throw their backs out, bang their heads against a door, and not pick up a piece of paper.

Then I tried to finish casting Summer Season, which means taking the 222 great young people who auditioned and fitting them into 112 roles for our student productions. That stretched my brain a bit. I love matching up a great part with a great actor. Not so great when you realize you may have to say 'no' to somebody. So, I spent a day writing 'no' letters, trying to let people know that they have worth and talent and dignity, no matter what I may think of their suitability for this year's Summer Season.

I'm emailing back and forth with an excellent fight choreographer who will, I hope, work on the fights in High School Hamlet (one of our summer shows), and an equally skilled and gifted dialect coach, to teach the actors the distinctive Alan Ayckbourn rhythms of Ernie's Incredible Illucinations (another summer show).

I spend a lot of time trying to think up things; ideas for Summer Season shows, sometimes ideas for new classes or other events, better lines in the scripts I'm working on -- I'm writing revisions of High School Hamlet and the swordfighting extravaganza Vesuvia! And just at this moment I'm trying to think of an exciting and entertaining way to introduce the Summer Season to our board of trustees. Last year, I wrote a parody of the song Suppertime from Little Shop of Horrors, a musical we produced last summer (sing along if you know the tune):

It's the last board meeting now,
You think your work's almost done,
Just got to balance the books,
Then go off and have some fun
But I've got news for you:
It's summer season time

This year, I'm thinking of a more dialogue approach, with some of our young actors playing me and Karen Sharp, our education director, in a summer season planning meeting.

Like . . . .

Karen: Don, I have some concerns about Urinetown as the summer musical. Is it appropriate?
Don: Yeah, I was concerned about that, too.
Karen: And it's the last show of summer season . . .
Don: Right. What would the next show on the stage be? The first mainstage show?
Karen: Um, Night of the Living Dead, I think.
Don: Oh.

I like all the parts of my job: writing, auditioning, planning the season, coming up with ideas. But my favorite part is rehearsing the shows; when I get to be inspired by young actors and do my best to inspire them in return, and when we both get to test our ideas and talents in front of an audience. Only a few months away now . . .

Don Fleming
Summer Season Producer

Monday, April 21, 2008

Busytown tiny sneaky peek

Our world premiere of Busytown, based on What do people do all day? by Richard Scarry and written by Kevin Kling, opens this Friday April 25th, and we are incredibly excited. Not only has it been an opportunity to work with the wonderful Kling, but we are absolutely convinced young and old will love the singing, dancing and fun of Busytown.

A few weeks ago, we held a photo shoot during rehearsals, and while our photographer Chris Bennion was busy with the actors, Behind the Curtain crept around the periphery getting close-up snapshots of props, set and models. And we wanted to share this tiny sneaky peek behind-the-scenes with you.

Come and check out the amazing puppets of Puppet Master Douglas Paasch, the colorful sets of Scenic Designer Jennifer Lupton and the vibrant costumes of Costume Designer Cathy Hunt, not to mention the dances of Choreographer Marianne Roberts and the sounds and music of Sound Designer Chris Walker, Music Director Mark Rabe and Composer Michael Koerner.

And let us not forget the delightful ensemble, pictured here during rehearsal.

Auston James, Lisa Estridge, Khahn Doan, Matt Wolfe, Allen Galli and Don Darryl Rivera in rehearsal for Busytown. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Busytown opens April 25th and runs through June 15th in the Charlotte Martin Theatre at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coolest. Quilt. Ever.

Backstage 2008: SCT's Neverending Story is right around the corner. This fun yet sophisticated evening will bring together 500 guests comprised of corporate executives, political figures, and philanthropists in our region, for a celebration of children’s theatre on Monday, April 28.

One of the most exciting events of the evening is always the auction. A few months back we gave you a sneak peek at the guitar signed by Heart, but the item we want to show you today may even trump that (heart, trump, get it? no? oh, well).

This one-of-a-kind piece of art is the brainchild of Cora Brown from our Costume Shop. She wanted to find a fun way to help bring money into the theatre, and to build community within the theatre, and so recruited SCT staff and artists to create and donate panels for a quilt.

The project has been months in the making. Recruits created their panels in the fall. Many of them related to favorite shows from this season...

...or from seasons past.

The final product is really beautiful. It has been hanging at SCT since the Costume Shop completed it, and we're going to be hard-pressed to let it go. But go it will, to the highest bidder in less than two weeks.

If you want to come and bid on this gorgeous quilt or just enjoy an evening with other people that love and support the arts, you can find out more about Backstage 2008 at our website.

Special thanks to all who contributed to this wonderful quilt (by quilt panel, left to right, top to bottom): Colleen Guinn, Lead Electrician and Eve Alvord Light Board Operator; Rosie Currier, Education Intern; Linda-Jo Greenberg, Production Stage Manager and Company Manager; Edie Whitsett, Property Shop Manager; Andrea Randall, Education Programs Coordinator, and her fiance Scott Ichikawa; Morgan Rowe, Actor (BFG) and SCT Teaching Artist; Shellie Moomey, Costume Shop First Hand; Erin Perona, Wardrobe Master; Peter Crook, Actor (Hamlet); Shelley Saunders, Interim Managing Director; Rigmor Vohra, Costume Shop Draper; Cora Brown, Costume Shop Stitcher/Crafts Assistant; Scott Gray, Costume Shop Crafts Person; Rana Webber, Costume Shop Manager; The CAST II class from SCT's Drama School; Brooke O'Neal, Individual Giving Manager; Kurchta Rae Harding, Lead Stagehand for the Eve Alvord Theatre; Torrie MacDonald, Literary and Publications Manager; Cora Brown, Costume Shop Stitcher/Crafts Assistant; Lucinda Wilder, Ticket Office Manager; Trilby Hainstock, Lead Properties Artisan; Rigmor Vorha, Costume Shop Draper; Lauren Graham, Lead Electrician and Charlotte Martin Light Board Operator; Shellie Moomey, Costume Shop First Hand; Rita Giomi, Artistic Associate; Andrea Randall, Education Program Coordinator; Emily McLaughlin, Wardrobe Assistant; Sarah S. Mixson, Assistant Production Stage Manager; Ellie McKay, Education Programs Assistant; Andy Jensen, Education Programs Administrative Manager.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Guest Reviewer Ema and According to Coyote

Behind the Curtain is pleased to introduce our newest guest reviewer. Ema M was referred to us by the fine folks at Hugo House, and was kind enough to review our production of According to Coyote.

Maybe there is a moral intended in these Native American stories, but that is not the primary purpose intended in telling them; the purpose is to transfer these old stories and customs to the next generation. With this aim in mind, According to Coyote succeeds from the first story. Gene Tagaban and Sheila Daniels, director, present these stories in a fresh way that is undeniably sassy and engaging.

The play uses language that kids can relate to; it probably wasn’t used in lodges generations ago, but the language used then was contemporary for its time. The use of modern language made the stories more accessible, along with the clever costuming. The costume change is a great reflection of the entire play's progression; Tagaban enters in jeans and a black t-shirt with more traditional items scattered around the stage. As the play progresses he puts this traditional grab on as part of the story until by the end he’s in full costume. That’s how we’re reeled in - one piece at a time, in a way that makes these stories familiar, even if they aren’t.

The play is a playful interpretation of the legends of Coyote, updating but never forgetting the roots these stories came from. It’s a performance that will coax kids into a deeper cultural experience and equally importantly, make them laugh. One of the things that works best about According to Coyote’s approach is the fact that the kids got the jokes - the constant giggling was testament enough.

According to Coyote runs through May 11 in the Eve Alvord Theatre at Seattle Children's Theatre.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

SCT's New Season!

We'll be officially unveiling our 2008-09 season on our website tomorrow, but if you'd like a sneak preview, check out today's Seattle Times.

It is going to be a fuuuuuuun year.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Have you ever...?

The suggestion for this blog post comes from the mother of our first guest reviewer. She asked us to pose this question to the cast of The Hundred Dresses, which she didn't have the chance to ask during the post-play talkback:

Have you ever found yourself in a position like Maddie or Peggy or Wanda?

Intrepid actor Sarah Harlett, playing Peggy in the play, was brave enough to share her answer.

We asked ourselves this question the first few days of rehearsal. We sat around a table and shared our own experiences from when we were kids. Allison Narver (our wonderful director) described occasions in her life when she felt like one of these characters. Then she asked us all to share our memories. We all recalled being teased ourselves. We also recounted tales when as kids ourselves we didn't stand up for someone else because we were too scared all of that brutal attention would turn on us. We also had memories of times when we didn't realize we were hurting other kids feelings. When we were bullying kids ourselves. It's part of what makes this play so achingly poignant. We've been there. Chances are we've been ALL of these kids at one time or another.

Allison made it clear that none of these characters in the play were just "bad kids." That we shouldn't be able to write them off so easily. These kids love fun and games. They love to laugh and everything has the possibility to turn into a game. Which on the surface sounds like pretty fun-loving behavior. They create teasing games with nearly everyone in the play. It's a big game of "you're it" and one of the scariest things is to be the brunt of that attention.

These characters are at different points in the development of their "moral compass." When I think that this story was based on actual experiences of the writer, Eleanor Estes, it makes me think even more about my own experiences. What I learned from them, how I learned lessons and the hope that I continue to learn from them.

The Hundred Dresses runs through April 6th.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A few minutes with Gene Tagaban - Part II

As promised, the second installment of our interview with storyteller Gene Tagaban from SCT's production of According to Coyote.

Many thanks to Gene for spending some time with us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A few minutes with Gene Tagaban

Native American storyteller Gene Tagaban stars in our remount of John Kauffman's collection of trickster stories, According to Coyote, opening Friday March 14th and running through May 11th.

Behind the Curtain caught up with Gene last week, and he was kind enough to spend a few minutes talking with us before rehearsal.

Gene had so much to share with us that we decided to break the video into two parts. Tomorrow we'll post Part II. Check back to hear Gene's thoughts on the role and power stories have in teaching us and some of the other projects he's working on.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Activity: Heroes!

In The Hundred Dresses, Maddie wants to be a hero. In her fantasies, she is a superhero, while in her everyday life she struggles to make the heroic choices. In the end, Maddie learns what it means, and what it takes, to be an everyday hero.

This activity, designed by our Drama School, gives participants a way to think about different kinds of heroes, as well as working on listening, imagination, and decision-making skills


Gather all of your participants into a group. If you have a large enough group, you may ask half to do the task while the other half observes, and then switch.

Ask participants to create a frozen picture of a superhero. Gives them about 5 seconds to accomplish the task. The activity leader should reflect on the frozen picture he or she sees – noting shape, level, image, facial expression etc.

Add a layer: ask the participants to think of one word that superhero might say. Tap a few superhero frozen pictures on the shoulder and hear what they say. Try saying the word all together.

Add another layer: ask the participants to think of what power the superhero might use to help people. Tap a few superhero frozen pictures on the shoulder and hear what they say.

Then ask participants to create a frozen picture of an everyday hero (i.e. firefighters, police officers, soldiers, doctors, teachers, parents.) Give them 5 seconds to accomplish the task.

Again, reflect on the frozen picture he or she sees – noting shape, level, image, facial expression etc.

Add a layer: ask the participants to think of one word that the everyday hero might say. Tap a few everyday hero frozen pictures on the shoulder and hear what they say.

This activity works as a great springboard into discussion about different kinds of heroes. Reflect on what qualities make a real life hero. What are the choices, qualities, or characteristics, or personality qualification for a real life hero?

The Hundred Dresses runs through April 6, 2008 at Seattle Children's Theatre.