As you know, Darke County Center for the Arts is not currently presenting live performances in our community due to health guidelines made necessary by the pandemic. However, that does not mean that the organization is not doing anything right now to fulfill its mission to culturally enrich lives through the arts. DCCA is partnering with Virginia Rep on Tour to present a virtual Family Theatre Series that can be enjoyed on-line to provide an entertaining and enlightening artistic experience while fulfilling Virginia Rep’s mission to entertain, challenge and uplift through the power of theatre.
The series opened with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, which has been available for streaming since Feb. 1, an appropriate choice for presentation during Black History Month. This moving and informative tribute to a great American not only tells of the courage and wisdom Harriet exhibited while rescuing 300 slaves (or human livestock, as wanted posters listed the runaways) and working for the Union Army as a nurse, scout, and spy during the Civil War, but also urges its audience to understand that the never-ending fight against ignorance continues. The play depicting the amazing tale of one African-American woman working for the rights and freedom of all people closes with a musical challenge — “What happens next, what happens now, is up to you,” providing inspiration for audiences to follow her courageous example.
If you have not yet accessed this moving production, never fear; Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad remains available through June 30. And on Mar. 1, the musical drama will be joined by — well, something completely different. Jack and the Beanstalk, a rollicking retelling of the classic fairy tale, becomes available on that date at DCCA’s Website, www.darkecountyarts.org. The universally familiar tale of the adventurous Jack will enthrall, entertain, and amuse adults through clever dialogue and inventive songs while also charming and delighting children with its imaginative and energetic staging and a script that not only creatively spins the tale but also fosters positive character development and teaches literary history.
In this version, Jack uses his active imagination and abundant energy to explore things that “aren’t always what they seem,” meeting the Giant’s formidable yet friendly wife who informs the boy that her husband “likes little boys — barbecued;” Jack then encounters the Giant, from whom the boy furtively steals a bag of gold, and later returns to also take a magic harp and a hen that lays golden eggs. Of course, all ends well with everyone living happily ever after as the cast lustily sings the ever-hopeful prediction, “Every day’s a story that has a happy ending.”
In addition to the dramatic production, viewers can also download a related Study Guide offering fun and educational activities for Kindergarten through fifth-grade students, and also view a talkback session with the actors who perform in Jack and the Beanstalk. The personable cast members respond to questions submitted by young audiences, including “What is the best part of being an actor?” “Being able to tell a story,” “Having an opportunity to be someone besides yourself,” and “For our job, we get to play without friends all day — and get paid for it,” are all good answers; however, my favorite response to that question is the unvarnished truth that embraces all of us: “It brings joy to other people.”
The magic of theatre is more than good story-telling, startling special effects, and capable stagecraft; good theatre provides insight, inspiration, and joy. You can partake of this wonder in your own home at no charge; go to DCCA’s Website or email DCCA at [email protected] for links and access codes to these diverse, well-done theatrical offerings from Virginia Rep on Tour. For more information, call DCCA at 937-547-0908. DCCA’s Family Theatre Series presentations will transport you to a world of wonder, sustaining your spirits until we can all gather together as an appreciative audience once again.