Honoring Diane Crews

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For nearly twenty years, DreamWrights founding member and Artistic Director, Diane Crews, has built a youth and family theatre based on a culture of growth, responsibility, and exploration in a safe and accepting environment. On Saturday, September 24, the DreamWrights family came together to honor Crews as she is set to retire at the end of the month.

J.T. Hand, President of DreamWrights’ Board of Directors, believes that although Crews is retiring, the foundation she has fostered and built will persevere well beyond the current generation. Hand explains, “We don’t see this as an end, but rather as part of DreamWrights maturing. We’re not done growing yet. This culture will persist and anyone who walks into this theatre will be able to feel it. It is and will continue to be palpable.”

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Saturday’s heartfelt retirement party was emceed by long time DreamWrights members, Paul and Corinne Brown. Paul Brown reflects, “Diane has touched so many lives in so many ways, we wanted to represent a good cross section of presenters.” These presenters included Paige Hoke, Timothy Storey, Kevin Alvarnaz, Steve Brown, and Joan Bitzer. Brown noted that at least twenty additional audience members spoke on Diane’s behalf from the floor. Hand adds, “This was a very personal event. Many people wanted to speak and thank Diane for the positive impact she had on them.” There was no shortage of love and appreciation coming from the full house.

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In addition to sentimental stories and speeches, the retirement party included an original song written and sung by the Browns and a skit arranged by Crews’ daughter, Shama Mir-Young. In an exciting moment, Board President Hand honored Crews with the announcement that DreamWrights’ black box theatre would now be officially known as “The Diane Crews Black Box Theatre.”

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As Hand revealed the sign to be installed above the entrance to the black box theatre, he likened DreamWrights to a sports team. He said that although some, including him, have never been in a show directed by Crews, “we have all been impacted by her. And just as athletes touch something for inspiration and guidance as they take the field, I foresee the sign named for Crews to be the touchstone for the cast and crew – the DreamWrights team – as it takes the stage. Performers would touch it to remember why there are there and to get inspiration from Diane, even in her retirement.”

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Throughout her nearly twenty years at DreamWrights, Diane Crews directed roughly 70 and wrote more than 30 shows.  Paul Brown reminisces, “She will be remembered for the tone of her shows. They introduced classic values to people and created a kinder community atmosphere. She made the theater a safe place to be and discover your gifts. Diane leaves behind a family of theatre people.”  Crews may be leaving DreamWrights but her legacy and memory will live on in “The Diane Crews Black Box Theatre” and in the hearts and minds of those whom she impacted.

Retirement Party Planned to Honor Founding Member, Diane Crews

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On Saturday, September 24 from 6pm – 9pm, the DreamWrights family will honor founding member and Artistic Director, Diane Crews as she is set to retire at the end of the month. As Crews reflects back on her time at DreamWrights, she remembers, “What began out of a desire for a special place for people of all ages to come together to create live theatre and then share it with audiences of all ages, still is! What began as a dream of a few is now a reality for many!”

Long time DreamWrights members, Paul and Corinne Brown, will emcee the evening which will include a pot luck dinner, a “hit parade” of memories from the nearly 70 shows directed and more than 30 shows written by Crews, and a gift presentation.  Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite DreamWrights t-shirt and share brief stories and memories during the evening.

As Crews makes her exit from the place she called home for the past twenty years, she asks something simple of the family she leaves behind. “As you go forth, may each of you share your many gifts with as many others as you possibly can. What you will get back is priceless.”

All are invited to attend the retirement party. Visit www.dreamwrights.org for more information.

Local Celebrities Pass Hats and Pour Sips for DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign

On Thursday, September 22 from 5pm – 7pm, local celebrities Mayor Kim Bracey and DreamWrights Executive Director, Ann Davis will be serving up drinks and fun at the Holy Hound Taproom. Proceeds will benefit the DreamWrights Capital Campaign.

Ann Davis, Executive Director sports a hat
Ann Davis, Executive Director sports a hat

As its six month capital campaign wraps up, DreamWrights hopes to raise some more cash and community awareness. Mayor Bracey whole-heartedly supports the effort.  “DreamWrights has been an important member of the York community for twenty years. They have done a wonderful job of educating kids through theater, and I’m excited that the Capital Campaign will allow them to expand their reach not only to more children and families, but also to more diverse groups that are underserved by the Arts in York currently, like millennials and retirees, and the African-American and Hispanic communities.”

Ann Davis and the DreamWrights community are anxious for the Center for Community Arts to take its next step. Davis explains, “The work made possible by this campaign will complement, not replace the capital improvements made more than ten years ago. This campaign will allow DreamWrights to make the investments necessary to increase the reach and range of our programming, and to revitalize our historic building.”

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Mayor Bracey says that DreamWrights, as well as many other businesses in the city, is in the midst of a renaissance. “Empty storefronts have been replaced by thriving boutique shops and restaurants, and chain link fences around construction sites have become the norm, rather than the exception. The city is rebuilding and retooling. But we need more than just the downtown to thrive. And DreamWrights has the potential to be the sort of anchor for the Avenues and West End neighborhoods that the Strand Capital is for the downtown. DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign allows it to truly become a center for community arts, and a sense of ‘community’ leads to cleaner and safer streets, a better education for our children, and economic development.”

To make the celebrity happy hour more fun, costume hats will be available for donors to try-on and model.  Photos are encouraged to be posted to social media and tagged with #DWHats to raise awareness and show community support. The DreamWrights Hats at the Hound event will be held on Thursday, September 22 from 5pm – 7pm at the Holy Hound Taproom in downtown, York, PA.

About DreamWrights’ Capital Campaign

On July 1, DreamWrights kicked off the public phase of its $2.5 million Capital Campaign. This campaign will allow DreamWrights to make the investments necessary to increase the reach of its special programs and provide accessibility to all. The capital project will achieve two strategic goals: to grow programs and audience and to revitalize our landmark, historic building. Community support is essential in helping DreamWrights reach its $2.5 million goal.

The Art of the Theatrical Haunted House

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This fall at DreamWrights, hands-on classes will teach a variety of spooky theatre elements and techniques, including scene design, costume design, and special effects. Students will create the actual components for the first ever “DreamFrights” Haunted House held October 28 and 29. Classes are also offered for haunted makeup and freaky food fare.

In the scene design workshop, participants will create scary scenes through faux painting, set decorating, props creation, and special wall treatments. Costume design workshop participants will craft textile-based scene decorations as well as creepy costumes like hooded capes, goblins, ghosts and other clever creatures. For those interested in special effects, participants will construct sound and lighting cues for each scene and pathway and will utilize spooky background noises like a stormy night, haunted woods, bats, spiders and snakes.  In the Haunted Makeup class, learn to turn great looking people into creepy ghosts, ghouls, skeletons and zombies. The Freaky Food Fare workshop will explore ideas and creativity for making autumn and Halloween inspired food.

For the younger crowd, the Mini Musical: How to be a Pirate will bring out your inner scallywag through story and song. This workshop will culminate with a musical performance at the DreamFrights Haunted House on Saturday, October 29 at 2:30 pm.

All workshops run four Saturday mornings: October 1, 8, 15 and 22 from 9:00am-12:00pm and one Wednesday evening, October 26 6:00pm-8:00pm (with the exception of the Mini Musical). All workshops culminate with the DreamFrights Haunted House on October 28 and 29 where students will receive free admittance to the DreamFrights haunted house. More information can be found at http://www.dreamwrights.org/education/fall-2016-classes.

About DreamFrights Haunted House

On October 28th and 29th DreamWrights opens the doors of DreamFrights – its first ever Haunted House fundraiser. A team of creative minds are stewing up a theatrically frightful event that has modified fright factor levels from mild to menacing. Tickets are $10 per person and are available online at http://www.dreamwrights.org/fund-raising-event/special-events through October 27th at 4pm or at the door. Drop in any time Friday, Oct. 28th 7:00-9:00 pm (Menacing) or Saturday, Oct. 29 2:00-4:00 pm (Mild), 4:30-6:30 pm (Medium), 7:00-9:00 pm (Menacing). Suggested fear level guidelines: Mild – under age 7, Medium – 12 and under, Menacing – 13 and up.

Summer at DreamWrights

Meredith Singleton is embarking on her senior year at York Suburban High School. She is the President of the Trojan Theatre Club, plays violin with the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, sings with the York County Honors Choir, and represented her school last year at Regional Chorus. Her busy school and activity schedule doesn’t permit her to get involved at DreamWrights during the school year but for the past three summers, Meredith has participated with DreamWrights’ Shakespeare program, Theatre Under the Trees.

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Also this summer, she added something additional to her resume: Teen Camp Counselor.

As a rising senior, Meredith knows that she needs to soon decide what she will do after high school. With her interest in theatre, she decided to volunteer as a teen counselor at four DreamWrights summer camps. She explains, “I’ve been looking at colleges but I had no idea what I wanted to go into. Now I have a better idea.” Never having worked in a classroom before, Meredith confirmed her interest in teaching and theatre and recently has narrowed her college search to schools offering theatre arts and either early education, music education, and/or museum studies.

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Meredith remembers, “I liked working with the kids. It was a lot of fun. I had a good experience doing stuff with them.” DreamWrights’ Summer Camp Coordinator, Hannah Kohler recognizes that she has a knack for working with younger kids in a theater environment, “I was very impressed with her work ethic. She is very proactive and I could always count on her to ask about the next thing. At times I have to tell her to go home.”

Calm and effective, Meredith was exposed to a variety of age ranges of campers. She loved that she could really see a difference in the campers from the time they arrived on the first day to when they performed on the last. “When I was working with the really little kids, there was this one girl who was so shy she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She was crying the first day when her mother dropped her off. But then on the last day she actually got up on stage to do her thing. I was so proud of her. “

DreamWrights is lucky Meredith decided to spend so much of her summer at the theatre. The only regret she has now is having more time during the school year to participate at DreamWrights. “That’s the one thing I regret about my busy schedule. If I had the opportunity to, I definitely would do more.”

The Billets Leave their Legacy to Help Ensure DreamWrights’ Future

Tommy Billet says it all began with his theatrical wife, Carmen. More than ten years ago, she discovered DreamWrights as an outlet for their grandson, Jacob. Tommy remembers, “Jake has been in 16 or 17 productions since he was 8 or 9.” He will soon be 16 and has been involved with every aspect of the productions: onstage, props, stage management, even sound and lights. “Jake grew up here. When he walks in the doors of DreamWrights, he’s home.”

Leave a Legacy

It was important for Tommy and Carmen to make sure that Jacob has that second home to turn to not only for himself, but for other kids like Jacob as well. That’s why the Billets chose to leave their legacy with DreamWrights’ Lasting Dreams Legacy Society, a member of Leave a Legacy York County. Tommy explains, “We decided we wanted this perpetuated. We have a strong commitment to DreamWrights and feel it is a worthwhile program. So after we’re passed there is that legacy.”

In his will, Tommy has arranged for a portion of his estate to be left to DreamWrights, a portion to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the rest to his grandchildren. Tommy laughs, “I’ve been eating oysters out of that bay for well over 60 years. I figure it is time to give back to them too.” But Tommy says that DreamWrights is a part of that whole picture “simply because it was good for our grandson and it was pretty good for us too. I enjoy coming here and seeing the children grow physically and mentally and just blossom. It’s a program worth supporting.”

Tommy Billet Lasting Dreams Legacy Society pin turned into ring

Sadly, Carmen Billet passed away last April. Tommy remembers, “We were honored with a DreamWrights’ Lasting Dreams Legacy pin in January when we came to see The Secret Garden. That was the last time my wife was out. And it made her day.” Tommy has since had the pin made into a ring that he wears proudly. It is a comfort to him to know that his affairs are in order and places like DreamWrights and the oysters in the Chesapeake Bay will live on for others to enjoy for years to come.

Adults and Teens Take the Spotlight in The Beverly Hillbillies

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This summer, many adults and teens are taking the stage at DreamWrights’ production of The Beverly Hillbillies. There a few parts for younger actors, but primarily the show calls for an older cast. DreamWrights Guest Director, Kirk Wisler, is excited about this nuance, “It’s cool because Mom and Dad are really getting some time in the spotlight.”

A handful of these participants are new to DreamWrights. This might be the first time audiences will meet them. Kirk laughs, “The cast is doing such a good job getting into character, that I think they will be remembered as their character more than their actual identities. Hopefully this show will be talked about and looked back on for many years.”

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Humor is a large part of what makes this production appealing. Kirk explains, “I was attracted to this show because of the comedy aspect to it. It’s so much fun to block a show and add in your personal comedic taste. This show is very familiar to audiences, which builds the anticipation to see it!” Kirk is aware of the challenge the familiarity presents to him as a director. “Audience members have an idea in their head of each character and how the story should go. So it’s my job to make sure we live up to their expectations, while at the same time giving them something that they haven’t seen before.”

Kirk, the cast, and the crew are having a lot of fun staging the show and they hope audiences are equally entertained. It is Kirk’s hope that participants and audience members alike can forget about all the seriousness and negativity in the world today and instead, can enjoy themselves for a couple of hours. “Maybe that can carry over into the rest of their week or summer,” wishes Kirk.

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Director Kirk Wisler started at DreamWrights when he was in 4th grade acting, stage managing, and later coordinating stage combat scenes. He directed his first production, The Mouse that Roared, last summer and had such a good time that he is returning this summer to direct The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Beverly Hillbillies opens Friday, August 12 at 6:30pm and runs August 13, 19, 20 at 6:30pm and August 13, 14, 20, 21 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.

Building Imagination in a Diverse World

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For the past several years, Susan Craver has encouraged her granddaughters to participate in DreamWrights summer camps. Grandmother to 9 year old Ruby and 7 year old Dahlia, Susan knew her girls were creative and imaginative and she wanted to give them an outlet.

She tells a story about a day recently when she heard from her daughter about the girls. “My daughter said that Dahlia was upstairs producing a rock opera with singing parts for all the ponies. She was acting out the whole play singing every part. Meanwhile, Ruby was downstairs with all of her Fisher Price toys set out like they were in a play.” Susan recognizes, “They have wonder and pretend in them. They are great pretenders.”

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Ruby at Sculpture Camp

According to Susan, Ruby chose to do the sculpture class this summer. “She wanted to do something more artistic and hands-on rather than a production this year.” Susan says Ruby is more of a hands-on person where Dahlia is more active. “In the circus camp, she was all over the place.” She says with a chuckle. “That’s the great thing about theater because there’s always a slot for whatever your talent is.”

Susan has enjoyed bringing her granddaughters to productions at DreamWrights and they have loved everything they have come to see. “I see the benefits both from attending the productions as well as getting children to participate.” Both she and the girls have come to appreciate the group effort that it takes to stage a show. “There is a big element of cooperation that’s way beyond just standing up and doing your part.”

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Dahlia at Under the Big Top camp

Throughout the years that her granddaughters have been active at DreamWrights, Susan has seen a change in the mix of children who are participating. “Because we are diverse in the city – and I’m glad DreamWrights is in the city – I’m all for having as many different kids participating as possible. I think theater offers a diversity in and of itself that is just great for kids.” Indeed, DreamWrights welcomes kids of all backgrounds and ethnicities as we continue to “Build Characters for Life.”

Burn This

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A Public Service Announcement from Bob T. Builder.

It’s fire pit time in the York area and what is your best source for wood? Why DreamWrights, of course! We are making room for the renovations and are clearing out a lot of our shorter lumber. Just imagine yourself sitting around the backyard fire and reaching for a piece of 1×4 that may have been in Seussical, Ann of Green Gables or perhaps the legendary Annie. Ah! The memories! Reminds me of that old country song. “Throw Another Memory on the Fire”.
And with winter coming up you should be stocking kindling for the wood stove.

Did you know that you can do more with wood than just burn it?! People have been known to make blocks and toys from theater shop scraps.

So bring a big box and visit the basement Scene Shop. You will find several bins roughly in the middle of the basement with a sign, “Burn this”.

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Contact Bob T. if you have any questions or need help.

This will be a big service to DreamWrights. If we can’t send this off to be burned, we might have to rent a dumpster, and you know we have better things to do with our money!

Going Hillbilly

You know your community theatre has gone hillbilly when…

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Your gutted roadkill prop contains interesting hors d’oeuvres.
Beth S.

After rehearsal you google “sowbelly” and “hand-slung chitlins” (and then regret it).
Andrea U.

You find yourself looking for a cement pond when it gets hot.
Stephen N.

The show’s publicity posters proclaim: Y’all come in and set a spell!
Chuck

You mistakenly come to the theatre looking for good stuff cheap.
Steve Olewiler

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Everyone looks and sounds like a hillbilly even when not on set.
Jo Olewiler

They redesign the construction project to move the “bathrooms” 50 feet beyond the building.
Kevin Alvarnaz

The word “fixin” takes on many meanings.
Steve R.

When you call a pool a “cement pond”.
Kirsten

When you start saying “fer” instead of “for”.
Madelyn

When you can’t stop speaking in that accent.
Mikella

When you can’t remember how to read.
Austin O.

When you start dressing like one fer sure.
Patrick H.

Don’t you want to be a hillbilly too?! The Beverly Hillbillies opens Friday, August 12 at 6:30pm and runs August 13, 19, 20 at 6:30pm and August 13, 14, 20, 21 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.