Monthly Archives: October 2015

StAGEs: Seniors will Showcase their Talents on October 29

Something funny is brewing at DreamWrights. For the past six weeks, StAGEs, a theater arts program designed specifically for the over 55 crowd, has been entertaining, challenging, and intriguing participants. Inspired by the National Council on Creative Aging (NCCA), StARTSomething and DreamWrights have partnered to offer this unique theater arts offering.

StAGEs

The members of the inaugural workshop will showcase their talents as well as what they’ve learned and accomplished on Thursday, October 29 at 2pm. This performance is free and open to the public. Free and easy off-street parking is available. As the performance unfolds, the audience will be treated to comedic scenes, touching reflections and maybe even some singing and dancing. Come ready to laugh.

Led by NCAA-trained theatre artists, Christina Myers and Luke MacCloskey, the StAGEs group has been experimenting with theatrical techniques to play games, tell stories, create plot and characters, and build new friendships.  These 5 men and 12 women range in age from Skip Lefever at 57 to Dolores Quickel at 94. Dolores can’t wait to register for the next StAGEs workshop. “I go home feeling really happy!” she beams. She claims she even laughs about it in bed as she’s falling asleep. “We’re having fun and enjoying ourselves” announces Nancy Wolgamuth. “It makes you laugh!” adds Mike Stewart.

When asked about the workshop, the participants could hardly contain their excitement and enthusiasm. “Nobody is a polished performer,” declares Judy Grimm. “But we’re learning to be hams,” interrupts Evelyn Miller. Mike Stewart explains that StAGEs is not at all what he anticipated. He was expecting a more serious workshop. “I even brought a pen and notebook the first time. But this turned out to be much better than a class!” The other participants agree. Nancy Wolgamuth loves the exercises because they “make your mind work” while having fun.

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Christina Myers, actor, writer, and producer has appeared in various TV and film projects including “Girl, Interrupted” (as Nurse Margie opposite Oscar Award Winner, Angelina Jolie).  Luke MacCloskey, actor, writer, and producer has performed on stage and screen around the country.  You might recognize him (or not!) as the interloping zombie in the national TVBoss.org commercial.  Together they perform as Cobblestone Comedy for corporate events and private parties.  They also lead professional rapport-building workshops for medical professionals.

StAGEs encourages active participation in the performing arts.  Meet new people, make art, and enjoy the benefits of “creative aging.”  Enrollment is limited to 16 participants and is free of charge.  A fully refundable registration fee will be returned at the culmination of the sessions. No experience is necessary. Accommodations will be provided for those with physical limitations and/or stage fright. Call 717-848-8623 x221 for more information and to register.

If At First You Don’t Succeed: A Case Study

Hannah began taking camps and classes at DreamWrights at the age of 5. Theatre was in her blood, even at this young age. She could hardly wait until she was old enough to try out for a production. When she realized the first show she would be old enough to be in was Snow White, she was over the moon. It was one of her favorites and she knew she was destined to be in it. So, Hannah tried out and anxiously waited for “the call.” But when “the call” never came, the reality was devastating. She was not chosen to be in Snow White. Hannah was crushed.

Annie

But, young Hannah did something that is often hard even for adults to do. She pulled herself back up, set her sights on the next show, and tried out again. This time it was Annie and this time she made it. It was a great experience and Hannah confirmed her love for the theatre.

However, her story doesn’t end there. With one show under her belt, Hannah was ready for her next. It was another favorite, Beauty and the Beast. Again, the perfect moment. She was a shoe-in! But then she didn’t get in. And again, it was quite a blow for Hannah, especially since one of her best friends had made it. Maybe the next show, Sleepy Hollow? Didn’t work out. Or the next, Miracle on 34thStreet? Nope.

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During this time, Hannah’s mom continued to provide encouragement. She registered Hannah for production camps and theatre classes to keep her involved and doing what she loved while gaining experience. Although she surely had moments of doubt, young Hannah persevered and went for it again with Alice in Wonderland. She got in! In fact, then she had a good run of two more shows after Alice, Dr. Doolittle and The Hobbit.

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Through all of this, Hannah did what directors hope all unsuccessful auditionees will do. Remember what Guest Director Paige Hoke reminds us of in her recent blog? For the shows where Hannah wasn’t chosen, maybe she didn’t fit into the overall puzzle. But, she kept at it. She didn’t get resentful, she didn’t give up; she became determined and kept plugging along.

Certainly, Hannah’s experience  isn’t uncommon. The way she handled it, kept a positive attitude, and persevered could possibly be.  And what wonderful life lessons this young lady has already learned. Often, things don’t come easily to us in life.  Even before the age of 10, Hannah knew as well as anyone how to overcome, persevere, and believe in herself. The world is her oyster.

Auditions Ahead Beware …What You Say! Versus What is Heard!

Over the years I have heard the following statements said in a variety of ways:
1) There’s nothing for me in that show.
2) That’s a show for boys.
3) That’s a girls’ show.
4) That’s a children’s show.
The translation, to me, is you don’t know the story or DreamWrights or both.

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One of the first things you learn in college is to read the script, if you can, before you go to an audition. That is not always possible, but if it is an adaptation you can always read the story. Our next two shows are classics so they should be easy to find.The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is written by Barbara Robinson. It’s a wonderful book and the script is very close to the original. The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodgson Burnett is another easy to find story. Our script was adapted for the stage by Paige Hoke. I wrote Young King Arthur from a myriad of Arthurian legends so there is no one story to access, but scripts will be available to check out two weeks prior to auditions.

You may not know that DreamWrights has a play reading committee that works hard each year reading many scripts in the search of plays that best suit our theatre. Isn’t our theatre like all others? Not at all! First we are a Youth & Family Theatre. Children’s Theatre is theatre for children performed by adults. Youth theatre is theatre for all ages performed by young people. A youth & family theatre is for all ages performed by all ages.

Being a multigenerational theatre means we are always looking for shows that have legitimate parts for children, teens and adults. (A legitimate part means that each character has a name/lines/and is needed. Not just onstage to decorate the set.) Plus, we need large casts. Trust me, there are not that many good published scripts that fit into either, let alone both categories. So the committee has a daunting task! In addition, they are always striving for a balanced season, which is yet another challenge. Is there something to interest everyone both artists and audience? Is there variety in time periods, topics, genres, etc.?

Dreamwrights’ four main shows are different in yet another way. We double cast! Why? The reasons are many, but the main one is we always audition over one hundred and fifty hopefuls per show. A good audition in ‘regular’ (whatever that is) community based theatre is between thirty to fifty.

Now onto this boy girl thing. We would never select a script that didn’t have a fairly equal number of all ages and genders. You can not go by a title. Please see the breakdown below of our next three shows as a perfect example of what we always hope for.

Yes, there are always some characters that have more lines than others. But we are an ensemble (Webster: A group of complementary parts contributing to a single piece.) theatre. We work together to tell the story. And it’s not about the lines! It’s about the character, and how you bring it to life.

Now about this, ‘there’s no part for me’ business. You are doing two things wrong here with this line of thinking. First, you are limiting yourself incredibly. Second, you are doing the director’s job. If you can’t trust the director to cast you … don’t audition for them.

Best Christmas                  Secret Garden                  Young King Arthur

Women                             6                                            4                                                   7
Men                                    5                                            4                                                   7
Teen W                              0                                            6                                                   6
Teen M                              4                                             6                                                   7
Girls                                   7                                             6                                                   6
Boys                                  7                                              5                                                   5
Total                                 39                                            31 (Playing 47)                       38

Diane Crews
Artistic Director

Dr. Seuss in Your Own Backyard. How Lucky You Are!

Something amazing is happening in the big yellow building at the end of Philadelphia street in Downtown York.

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Right now, 140 of York’s community members are working together to bring Seussical the Musical to the DreamWrights Youth & Family stage. These 140 people are actors, crew members, orchestra musicians, and designers. They come from all ages, all backgrounds, and all walks of life.  And, what they are creating is something that is incredibly special.

I first started at DreamWrights as a young girl in 1999. Eventually I went on to get a BFA in Acting and spend some time working in theatre in Philadelphia before moving back to York about three years ago. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent and creativity we have right here in our own community!  Seussical is a show that requires a lot of creativity and talent. It is a show that is almost entirely sung, and the music quite complex. Luckily for York, we have some amazingly talented performers in our community. Who knew school teachers, social workers, and stay at home parents could sing just as well as anyone on American Idol?

Mr. and Mrs. Mayor

On top of that, the show weaves together 19 of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories. This means our design team has to stretch all of  its creative muscles. We have a stunningly beautiful, two story set that looks like it has sprung right out of the pages of a Dr. Seuss book and onto our stage. There are 75 gorgeous costumes for birds, Whos, grinches, cats, elephants, circus performers, and more! All of the set and costume pieces were made by volunteers- parents, artists and community members- and everything is a feast for the senses.

I encourage everyone to come out and see what members of our community can accomplish when they work together! Don’t miss this fun, upbeat show that is fantastic for audience members of all ages, and don’t miss the incredible hard work of your fellow Yorkers.

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So this October, do something different and come see a live show right in your own backyard! I promise you won’t be disappointed! The show runs October 9-25 at DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre, 100 Carlisle Avenue in York. Tickets are still available if you call at 848-8623 or visit our website at dreamwrights.org. I can’t wait to see you there!

Paige Hoke
Guest Director