Wendy Lady (passion for “Peter and Wendy”)

Today I had my second experience with the amazing show “Peter and Wendy,” now running at the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street in New York City. Created and performed by the Mabou Mines theater company, I saw this truly magical production when it was presented in 1997 at the New Vic. Fourteen years later, this production in an expanded form captivated a preview audience of public school student, home taught students, parents, university students and corporate employees…for two and a half hours of pure brilliance.

Karen Kandel is the Narrator, and does the voices for every single character. An amazingly moving tour-de-force, Ms. Kandel brings every character voice to life, and with such specific detail to nuances, accents, pacing and style. Each one unique.

Oh..she does this with puppets. The rest of the cast are puppets, or manipulated objects that come alive in the hands of their expert puppeteers (in order from the program):

Lute Breuer, Basil Twist, Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith, Sam Hack, Jenny Subjack Piezas, Sarah Provost, Jessica Chandlee Smith, Jessica Scott, and Amanda Villalobos.

The staging flows beautifully, and the scenery and props are used with simplistic sophistication, so well thought out it becomes it’s own character. The musicians and singers are other characters, adding depth to an already touching production.

There are great moments of humor, laugh out loud humor, and moments that will cause even the most hard hearted to choke up. A woman who sat in front of me (we had a small discussion before the show and during intermission) turned around to me at the end, after the applause died down and the lights came up. Her eyes were teary, but the warmth of her smiling face showed how deeply this show touched her, an adult.

“Peter and Wendy” will be at The New Victory Theater from May 6th to May 22nd. I implore you to go and experience this show. You will walk out and want to fly yourself, to do some spring cleaning with Peter Pan, and visit Never Never Land. Just believe..and it’s second to the right and straight on till morning…..

Fiddler On The Roof (Ultimate Blog Challenge #10)

Ultimate Blog Challenge

I believe in Arts In Education (AIE).  I believe that arts integration into core curriculum is a proven time tested model  of success for the students. There are so many different types of learners, and when the arts are used in a classroom, the chances of engaging, connecting to the material, making outside of the classroom connections, and deeper understanding can be achieved. 100% successful? Nothing is-nothing is perfect. While many seem to fight the idea of Arts having any real importance and that it has no place in the classroom, the truth is it’s been there for a long time.  Maybe not named as such, but it’s been there.

I bring this up because I saw AIE in action yesterday. An exchange student from Venezuela had the lead in his school’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Yes, he played Tevye. Eight months ago, he spoke NO English.

I met him and his host family at Poetry Out Loud, a National Recitation Contest a few months ago.When you say someone is electrifying in meeting them,  that was DJ. He captivated the poetry audience, and he did so again in his role in Fiddler.

The arts helped propel his learning and understanding of English. The arts built his confidence (which I understand was already high to begin with) to sing FOR THE FIRST TIME in a show. He learned new life lessons along the way in both poetry and musical theater…and that is probably only the tip of the ice berg for him. I wish him all the success he can handle in life.

When I was the Chair and Special Projects Manager for American Voices for the NYC Department of Education, I saw AIE in full bloom. Yes, it was our mandate to infuse Theater Arts in core Social Studies curricula, but what made it real was seeing it in action and hearing students responses first hand.

The most gratifying comment I heard was from a student in The Bronx. The unit was based in the 1920’s and was integrating  Jazz  and the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” into the lesson plans. After the Social Studies & Drama teacher collaboratively taught a class together, I asked the students for some feedback on this unit of study (which is one of the ones I helped write). One girl said “This is the first time I actually like Social Studies. I wish we could do this more.” Paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of what she said. Many agreed with her, and I heard that again and again, in written form and from feedback from the teachers involved.

These are only two examples. I have many more from my years as both a NYC Drama Teacher and as a Teaching Artist.

The Arts are Alive, not just for entertainment purposes but for a deep level of education. Please support Arts In Education.

Arts Education Partnership
National Endowment for the Arts
Americans For the Arts

What are you doing to support the arts?

Tale Spinning: an experiment in writing (my other blog, working with the A to Z blog challenge. Enjoy)

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