As the voice of the arts in the community, Darke County Center for the Art’s mission can only be achieved by exposing local citizens to the benefits bestowed by involvement with the arts; and for many, the voice of the arts speaks loudest through theatre. That voice resounded in lives throughout the area during DCCA’s just completed 2015-16 “Voices” season, beginning with Missoula Children’s Theatre’s annual theatre residency offering local youngsters the opportunity for hands-on participation in a fully-staged musical production.
Following one short week of intense rehearsals that began on July 27, MCT’s King Arthur’s Quest brought to life legendary characters from Camelot in two performances at Versailles Performing Arts Center on Aug. 1. Starring students from grades one through twelve, the show featured melodic music, creative costumes, and a wise and witty script. The play aptly demonstrated that difficult issues are best faced by people working together, a concept reinforcing the basic theatre tenet that there are no small parts; everyone on stage is dependent upon and responsible to everyone else. True equality is demonstrated regardless of differences; each participant is given opportunity to excel, to find and express his/her own unique voice which will continue to evolve throughout a lifetime, expressing ideas and opinions that could advance humankind and change the world.
DCCA initiated its Family Theatre Series in 1997 to fulfill several goals, one of which was the desire to introduce local children and their families to the magic of theatre at an economically attainable cost. Theatre inspires imaginations, cultivates curiosity, and as one experts says “helps connect the head to the heart, making for smarter, braver human beings.” All those qualities were demonstrated in TheatreWorksUSA’s production of The Lightning Thief at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Oct. 4.
Voices of wisdom abound in Greek mythology, presenting intriguing stories packed with moral lessons and echoing through the ages; these tales provide the basis for Rick Riordan ‘s best-selling Percy Jackson tales upon which this musical is based. Likewise, The Lightning Thief also subtly includes meaningful messages. Percy and his friends learn that “normal is a myth; everyone has issues that they’re dealing with,” a reassuring truth for people of all ages, and especially significant for those youngsters struggling with feeling different from their peers. Family relationships are explored, communication skills promoted, and basics of classic Greek literature are unveiled, but audiences don’t notice that they are learning anything, realizing only that they are having great fun.
When ArtsPower National Touring Theatre’s production of Madeline and the Bad Hat took the stage at St. Clair Memorial Hall on Nov. 15, the fictional characters provided a universal voice for real people of all ages. Title character Madeline, the feisty, fearless school girl whose adventures often lead to discoveries that help resolve real-life challenges and conflicts, is actually the voice of beloved author Ludwig Bemelmans revealing his life experiences. Pepito, the mischievous “Bad Hat” whose behavior moves the story’s narrative, gives voice to kids coping with underlying issues but who are not really so bad after all. And the adult narrator of the tale and caretaker of the girls at Madeline’s boarding school, Miss Clavel, calmly voices wisdom as she guides her lively charge to learn meaningful lessons from her experiences.
The voice of imagination rang out loud and clear when DCCA presented Lightwire Theater’s Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey at Memorial Hall on April 3. A cosmic adventure about celebrating differences as well as the captivating idea of flying to the moon, Marvin the Mouse’s space trip provided an appealing subject for almost everyone. Utilizing electro-luminescent wire to create unique puppets with visually dazzling personalities, Moon Mouse engaged minds and spirits with its relatable story as well as its technical brilliance, providing much to enjoy on many levels—art, music, technology, creativity, inspiration.
Through its theatrical presentations of the past season, DCCA reinforced positive values, stimulated intellects and enhanced lives—aptly demonstrating the organization’s commitment to providing a strong voice for the arts in our community.
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.