Category Archives: Set design

Top 10 Best Moments of DreamWrights 2016

As we countdown the days to 2017, our twentieth year, we take a moment to relish our accomplishments and great memories from 2016.

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10. Our transition from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center for Community Arts

In March we began to transition our identity from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center Community Arts. Building characters for life became our mantra while putting growth center stage was identified as the inspiration behind our capital campaign. As a Center for Community Arts, a new Innovative Programming Committee was formed and wasted no time sponsoring DreamWrights’ first Open Mic Night. Budding comedians, talented musicians, and a friendly faced magician graced the stage of our relaxed and casual space. We had so much fun we are planning to do it again soon!

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Zombies in the elevator at DreamFrights

9. New camp and event programming

This year, DreamWrights offered a wider array of art and performance based camps as well as a few new events. Our first ever DreamFrights Haunted House was a huge success! With different fright levels, we were able to entertain young ones up through older kids and adults who enjoy the thrill of the scare. We hosted a tea parties during the runs of The Secret Garden and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and we had cookies, cocoa, and caroling with Santa, Dorothy, and the Wizard in Oz earlier this month. Flippin’ Broadway, a cabaret of Broadway show tunes with a fun twist, was a crowd pleaser in February.

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As for summer camps, this year we offered 24 different exciting and creative camps. These included three Disney performance camps, 101 Dalmatians, Cinderella, and Aladdin. We also held art camps taught by local artists Rita Whitney and Karen Paust, a digital photography camp taught by Randy Flaum of White Rose Community TV, and a poetry class taught by York’s poet laureate, Christine Lincoln. We are planning equally innovative, clever, and exciting camps and classes again this coming summer. Spread the word and tell your friends!

8. Our beautifully designed sets

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The Secret Garden

This year, DreamWrights raised the bar with our set design by employing the talents of some amazing designers and builders. Fifteen year old first time set designer, Jacob Schlenker, gave a beautiful and sassy makeover to the set of Legally Blonde. The first ever DreamWrights raked (sloped) stage was designed by Billy Ferrell for The Adventures of Peter RabbitAllen Brenner brought us a beautiful two story set staged in alley configuration with the audience on two sides for The Secret Garden. Most recently, the illustrious Ray Olewiler designed a magical set that was over the rainbow.

7. The enthusiasm and energy that Guest Directors bring

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Guest Directors Andrea Unger and Chris Quigley

This year, DreamWrights benefited from the expertise of five guest directors: Andrea Unger (Our Miss Brooks and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit), Nic Ecker (Legally Blonde), Michelle Denise Norton (As You Like It), Kirk Wisler (The Beverly Hillbillies), and Jaci Keagy (The Wizard of Oz). In anticipation of the upcoming season, where we will be using six guest directors and three guest assistant directors, a formalized guest director process was introduced. The first introduction and kickoff meeting for guest directors was held in early December. Please join us in welcoming Guest Directors Rodd Robertson (directing Pride and Prejudice), Andrea Unger (Peter Pan and Mary), Michelle Denise Norton (The Taming of the Shrew), Timothy Storey (The Mousetrap), Chris Quigley (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), and Jaci Keagy (It’s a Wonderful Life) as well as Guest Assistant Directors Amanda Nowell, Kevin Alvarnaz, and Andrea Unger. We hope that our improved processes for these guest directors will make for an even better experience for our crews, casts, and audiences!

6. Our community celebration to kick off our capital campaign

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On June 30, to kick off the public phase of our capital campaign, we threw open wide our doors and invited the local community to meet our refreshed Center for Community Arts. Nearly 200 friendly faces joined us in the celebration. This exciting event featured performers and artists that included: YWCA’s Temple Guard Drill Team, Devix, Kingsfoil, Weary Arts Group, First Capital Drumline, Illstyle & Peace presented by Positive Energy Arts Foundation, and DreamWrights’ own Theatre Under the Trees and StAGEs troupes.

 

5. Our StAGEs program winning a Nonprofit Innovation Award

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In February, DreamWrights was awarded a Nonprofit Innovation Award in the category of collaboration with StARTSomething by the Central Penn Business Journal for our work with StAGES, our creative improv class for folks 55 and older. StAGEs encourage active participation in the performing arts. Thanks to additional support from the Cultural Alliance Creative Impact Award, this year our StAGEs troupe has made new friends, new memories, and has had tons of laughs while enjoying the benefits of “creative aging.”

4. A successful internal transition

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This year we honored the career of founding member, Diane Crews, and we welcomed Hilary Adams, our new Director of Artistic Programming. Diane’s DreamWrights career was memorialized in the naming of our black box theatre. Hilary has hit the ground running as she is currently finalizing the crews and casts of her first DreamWrights production, Babe, the Sheep-Pig.

3. Being on TV and performing to sold out crowds

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We ended the year with a bang as we enjoyed our 4 minutes of fame on Fox 43‘s morning show on December 1. It was a great way to kick off our run of The Wizard of Oz as nearly every show was sold out. Our hearts, minds, and confidence was renewed as we remember that there’s no place like home – or your second home – as many of you call this place known as DreamWrights.

2. Community support of our capital campaign

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Executive Director, Ann Davis, with Mayor Kim Bracey and York City Solicitor and DW Board Member, Jason Sabol at Hats at the Hound fundraiser event

What began as a dream took a foothold in reality this year with the funds we have raised towards our capital campaign. We brought our message to the broader community through fundraising events like Hats at the Hound. Although we have not met our goal of $2.5 million dollars, we are standing strong at $1.8 million with phased construction plans and approvals from the appropriate local municipalities to begin moving forward with our construction this spring. We are excited for the opportunities the future holds with the new studio space, upgraded building enhancements, and expanded programming. We have received some amazing support from businesses and individuals alike. We thank you for your support. If you have not done so already, we graciously ask you to consider helping us get closer to our goal.

1. You walking through our doors

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Your involvement is what makes DreamWrights the amazing community it is. People of all ages, from all backgrounds and experiences are welcome to safely explore the arts, try new things, and be part of something bigger than themselves. DreamWrights builds characters for life. We look forward to working together with you again in the coming year to create our best, brightest, and biggest year yet!

Happy New Year from DreamWrights!

Announcing our 2017 Season Lineup and 20th Year Milestone

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Not only does 2017 offer what promises to be a highly entertaining year of theatrical programming for DreamWrights Center for Community Arts, but also marks the theatre’s 20th year anniversary. “2017 will be an exciting year for us at DreamWrights,” comments Ann Davis, DreamWrights’ Executive Director. “Especially for those of us who are founding members and have been involved since the beginning, it is great to see the organization grow and develop. Since the beginning, DreamWrights has been offering educational and mentorship opportunities across multiple generations, while constantly strengthening our reach and impact on the greater York community. The 2017 season is well positioned to continue this growth.”

With shows from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, to the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hilary Adams, Director of Artistic Programming, says that this season will provide opportunities behind the scenes or on the stage for the seasoned DreamWrights participant as well as those thinking about trying something new. Adams explains, “We have comedies, dramas, and musicals. We have classic and modern text. On the technical side, we will be creating a diverse variety of theatrical worlds. We look forward to engaging the community and welcoming people to DreamWrights.”

This season, DreamWrights is proud to stage a world premiere by local playwright, Paige Hoke, Peter Pan and Mary or, the Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady, a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. For anyone familiar with Hoke or her work, this anticipated event promises to be popular for crew, cast, and audiences alike.

In addition, the 2017 season brings to life theatrical adaptations of books and films, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, family favorite, Babe the Sheep-Pig, and holiday staple, It’s a Wonderful Life. Adams reports, “In terms of education, adaptations provide an opportunity to experience a story in different forms. You could see the stage version first then work backwards, for example, watching the movie then reading the book, and then compare and contrast the differences between the various art forms.” She suggests this season provides plenty of inspiration for launching a reading club. “These adaptations would be fun to read and study. It would an excellent educational opportunity to look at an age appropriate theatrical adaptation, ask questions about the differences in the forms of the story, and then play with adapting a scene from the book or film to the stage.”

For summer time programming, DreamWrights’ Theatre Under the Trees brings Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew free to York County parks. Since 1998, Theatre Under the Trees has provided classic Shakespeare with a modern twist to fans and families.

DreamWrights 2017 season kicks off with Babe, the Sheep-Pig which runs February 10 – 26, followed by Pride and Prejudice (March 30 – April 1), Peter Pan and Wendy or, The Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady (May 5 – 21), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 22 – 25), The Taming Of the Shrew (July 21 – 29), The Mousetrap (August 11 – 20), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (October 6 – 22) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec 1 – 17). For further information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.dreamwrights.org.

Choose Your Fright Level at DreamFrights Haunted House

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Who doesn’t love a spooky story on a cool autumn night, with leaves blowing, and pumpkins grinning? This year, DreamWrights Center for Community Arts will be telling a theatrically haunted house story: DreamFrights! Designed by Ray Olewiler, this 350 foot haunted house maze will employ many theatrical effects to appeal to the senses. DreamFrights design volunteer and York City Solicitor, Jason Sabol explains, “You don’t find many haunted houses produced by a theater, so our technical ability to use lights, sounds, sets, and actors to create a frightening and fun – or mostly fun for the younger kids – walkthrough is at a higher level than your everyday local haunted house production. Not only that, the location itself is perfect! DreamWrights is going to be transformed into a creepy old theater and it certainly doesn’t hurt that we already have a resident ghost – or two!”

Concerned about it being too scary? Don’t be! DreamFrights will be performing at different levels of fright, so this is an event that the whole family can enjoy. DreamFrights starts off with the scare level ramped up the eve of Friday, October 26 from 7:00 – 9:00pm. So, the suggested age for that evening is 13+. But on Saturday, October 27 from 2:00 – 4:00pm DreamFrights will have a walkthrough designed for young children under age 7 where it will be more entertaining and humorous than scary. From 4:30 – 6:30pm, DreamFrights will crank the scares up a bit for kids between the ages of 7 and 12 (suggested). Then DreamFrights will go all out with frights from 7:00 – 9:00pm for the teenage and adult crowd!

Sabol says, “We wanted kids of all ages to be able to enjoy one of the best Halloween traditions, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure that it was scary enough for older kids to enjoy it. That’s how we came up the three levels of terror for the different age groups. We can make the haunted house as scary or mild as we want. So for older kids, we can amp up the terror – and blood – while the little ones still get a fun maze walkthrough. It really is the best of both worlds.”

DreamFrights Haunted House Fundraiser will begin spooking people on Friday, October 28 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the menacing level. Younger kids may prefer the mild fright level on Saturday, October 29 from 2:00 – 4:00pm. Medium frightfulness can be found from 4:30 – 6:30pm followed by menacing 7:00 – 9:00pm. Cost is $10.00 per person. Tickets are good for any of the 4 open house times and are available online through October 27 at 4pm or at the door. Proceeds will benefit DreamWrights. Suggested fright guidelines: Mild – under age 7, Medium – 12 and under, Menacing – 13 and up.

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.

She Came with her Grandkids but Stayed for Herself

Connie Shorb’s first introduction to DreamWrights was when her granddaughter enrolled in one of the summer camps. Connie remembers, “She just had a wonderful time. Of course, we came to see the performance. I was very impressed with how happy the kids were, what they were learning, how the staff handled them, and how they came back excited about what they were doing.” Connie says that it became very obvious early on that her granddaughter, Megan, was enjoying herself and that more summer camps and acting opportunities were going to be in her future.

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Megan participated in a Broadway camp. Her brother, JR, enrolled too, and was cast as a spoon. Connie says for Megan being on stage came naturally, “Megan likes to perform. This gives her an opportunity to blossom.”  Connie laughs, “But JR wasn’t quite sure if a spoon was something he wanted to be doing. But, Megan explained it was a pivotal role.” JR ultimately grew into his role as a spoon and liked it so much he returned to a Dinosaur Creativity Camp.

As Connie has come to several performances to see and support Megan and JR, she’s gotten to know DreamWrights and its values. “I’m impressed with the vision about what they’re trying to accomplish. I like the outreach to the community. I would hope that in the future that DW would be able to do things with some of the other arts groups in town.” Having an art background herself, Connie recognizes the opportunity that DreamWrights can offer the community both on and off the stage. “Bring the kids in, teach them set design. Hopefully these kids will take this back to their high schools and middle schools.”

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Her grandkids on stage might be what brought Connie in, but it is the art that keeps her coming back. Formally educated with a degree in fine arts from Rollins College, Connie has had a love for art since she was a little kid. Even when the responsibilities of raising a family set in, Connie always kept herself engaged in art by building the Art Goes to School program at Indian Rock Elementary and providing what would now be considered rudimentary (only 4 colors at a time – hey – it was the 80s!) computer graphics for a local software house. But now, as Connie has more free time, she’s trying to get back to her artwork. As a step towards this goal, she’s decided to give set painting a try. “This is another venue. It is a different kind of art work.  I’m hoping to learn a little about this as well. It’s fun to see how they put it all together. Trying to work in a totally different area is a challenge.” She’s not working 12 inches away like she’s used to. She’s working on a much grander scale with set design. To speak with Connie, you can tell that she’s enjoying the challenge to her art skill to work in this setting.

Connie has also been impressed by all of the volunteers’ time and dedication. “When I was working yesterday, there were a lot of young people that came in and they were doing all sorts of things, and not necessarily in front in the spotlights. I was impressed with how Bob [McCleary] worked with them.  Everybody had something to do. Bob was guiding them, letting them do their own thing, but also keeping an eye on what was being done. Everybody was being part of the whole. I was impressed with everybody’s attitude and level of cooperation.” Connie believes the secret to this success is the competent supervision. “In just the little time I’ve been here, people know what they’re doing. They do a good job with it. Frankly, if they weren’t you wouldn’t see the success in productions that they have.”

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From Connie’s unique perspective, she is especially excited about DreamWrights’ capital campaign. “I think having a better setting for all of this is definitely a positive. You know, it’s an old building and things need to be brought up to code. That’s going to be a benefit.” As far as what the DreamWrights experience brings to budding actors and actresses like her granddaughter, “What Megan learns here gives her confidence to participate in talent shows and perform at school. Just the basic life skill of being confident and speaking in front of a group is something that’s going to carry on for a life time.”

Being on stage is great, but it isn’t for everyone. It might be for Megan but it wouldn’t have been for Connie. “My dad introduced me to golf. It is something you can do on your own. As is art. You don’t have to have a crowd. I guess it goes with what I was comfortable doing. Not everybody can be captain of the football team. As time goes on you kind of figure out what you are good at and what you want to do.” DreamWrights gives people of all ages the opportunity to do this.

Tech Stuff is for Girls!

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Catie

DreamWrights’ Technical Director, Bob (T. Builder) McCleary can often be overheard singing the praises of his tech teams. Recently, he has been particularly impressed by two girls – the Dinnneen sisters. Catie and Hannah Dineen have three brothers (Tom, 13; Scot, 15; Sean, 18) but it is the girls in this family that have made the largest impression on Bob.

Catie and Hannah got involved in theater when they were 8 and 4 respectively. Not long after, they started doing tech work with Bob. They enjoyed being at the theater, so whenever they were not cast in a show, they got involved working on the crew.

Catie reveals, “It’s cool to be behind the scenes because not everyone gets that opportunity.” Hannah chimes in, “It’s been fun learning all the different jobs at the theater.”

Bob believes it is the girls’ attitudes that make them so good. Bob explains that these girls “try hard and do a good job.  They will take a shot at anything I ask.”

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Hannah

Catie is an 11th grade homeschooler.  She has been involved in the homeschool shows, the summer shows, worked on planning and organizing the Teen Ball, and most currently you might’ve seen her in  Flippin’ Broadway. This 16 year old has participated in casts, stage crew, lights, spot light, costumes, set building, and a variety of other odd jobs.

Hannah is 11 years old and in the 6th grade. She is involved with the homeschool shows, stage crew, lights, sound, projector, props, set building and anything Bob tells her to do.

If you happen to see these girls with a drill in their hand or climbing up a ladder, pay attention! You might just learn a thing or two!

Unique Alley Staging Features The Secret Garden

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DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Artistic Director, Diane Crews, knew that the biggest challenge in mounting DreamWrights’ next play, The Secret Garden, would be the number of scenes and locations needed. So, instead of the traditional proscenium seating configuration, Crews and her crew felt that this production would lend itself best to an alley configuration, a form of theatrical staging in which the stage is surrounded on two sides by the audience.  Crews explains, “Alley staging will allow for the action to take place on both ends [of the alley] and up and down and in the middle of the audience. There will be five different acting areas including a home in India, the interior of the Manor in England, the Manor’s front garden, outside of the British home, the village, the moor, and of course the secret garden.”

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DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Crews is excited. “It’s a wonderful format that lets the audience use their imaginations right along with the actors.  We can all see the wall around the garden, and at the same time be able to see right through it.” But, when Crews first pitched the alley staging idea to Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, he wasn’t sold. Brenner explains, “Alley staging presents several challenges. One is the sightline. With the set in this configuration, I have to try to do as much dimensional stuff as possible and it has to be low profile.” Even the blocking can be a challenge, he says. “You have to consider what audiences can see, what you want them to see, then make sure that they can actually see it.”

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Brenner’s scale model

But after some consideration and in brainstorming with Crews, Brenner agreed that with all of the different and faraway scenes in the play, alley is a great option. “Alley provides separate locals for the audience so it gives the feel of different places.” For example, Brenner reveals that on one end of the alley will be the scene of the English manor and the other end of the alley will be scenes in India.  “Alley staging gives me a lot of territory to work with. It makes it a lot of fun.” Brenner also points out that it will require the audience to participate more in the action, as they will feel the movement from one end of the corridor to the other and in between.

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Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner

DreamWrights is pleased to have the talents of Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, for this production. Brenner’s design hasn’t appeared at DreamWrights since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2010, and it will beautifully transform the audience to faraway lands including the fascinating secret garden. According to Brenner, alley staging is less common than the traditional proscenium. It has rarely been done before at DreamWrights, and as far as he knows, possibly never elsewhere in York.You can count on The Secret Garden to be a unique experience. Call it an adventure, one that will take you from India to England to a secret garden. You won’t want to miss it.