Novelist Margaret Atwood has said that a voice is a human gift to be used and cherished; powerlessness and silence go together. The voice of the arts can be powerful, expressing that which cannot remain silent. Darke County Center for the Arts 2015-2016 “Voices” season offerings for the youth of our community demonstrate the truth of these statements in many diverse forms.
DCCA’s Arts In Education program presents high-quality artists who perform for students in every grade of all Greenville City and Darke County public schools at no cost to the students. Folk music icons Kim and Reggie Harris got things off to a spirited start, presenting “Music of the Underground Railroad” to kindergartners through third-graders Sept. 21 through Sept. 25.
When Kim and Reggie tell it, the somber story of escape from slavery speaks of people working together for a common good, celebrates hope and freedom, and leaves the audience feeling joyful and inspired. That forceful story uplifting the strength and resiliency of the human spirit vibrantly lives in the minds and hearts of local students who experienced Kim and Reggie Harris’s memorable performances.
Fourth- through sixth-graders experienced the commanding voice of a legendary figure Oct. 26 through Oct. 30 when Mad River Theater Works brought their production of John Henry to our community. Although his legend has grown to create a larger than life character, the play tells of an ordinary man who worked hard and battled against losing his way of life. Many lessons can be drawn from the production; the value of being free to shape one’s own destiny is a recurring theme. The struggle to remain relevant as progress renders obsolete previously valued skills is movingly made clear. John Henry famously worked so hard in the contest with a machine that he “broke his poor heart, laid down his hammer and he died.” But as the song also proclaims “You can still hear his hammer ring!” The complex truths presented in this deceivingly simple production also ring in the minds and hearts of local students as they continue to contemplate all that John Henry has to say to their lives.
As is often the case for Arts In Education presentations, “Follow your dreams” was the inspirational theme for the musical program presented to high schoolers from Jan. 19 through Jan. 22 by amazing a cappella group VoicePlay; however VoicePlay members offered down-to-earth experience to accompany their esoteric advice. Through various routes, some circuitous, others fairly straightforward, these charismatic performers have achieved success doing what they love. The inspiring message communicated by five guys who followed and fulfilled their dreams connected with audiences, and will reverberate positively in lives for a very long time.
Living Voices’ production of Through the Eyes of a Friend, a multi-media presentation relating the story of Anne Frank as told by a character who, though fictional, is a composite based on several of the teen’s real-life contemporaries, closed DCCA’s Arts In Education series on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11. Presented to junior high students at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, the performance meaningfully delivered the full impact of historic events, moving the audience to seek to overcome the barrier of time to learn from the past. Six million Jews died during the Holocaust, but Anne Frank’s compelling voice lives on—through her diary and the unforgettable words she wrote. And her story resonates in the lives of today’s teens who, thanks in part to this memorable production, will never forget.
Through DCCA’s Arts In Education program, the voice of the arts reaches the minds and hearts of the citizens of tomorrow, impacting the future in ways yet unknown. But that powerful voice makes a positive difference, affecting for the better our community and the greater world.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.