Theatre can connect you to the past and to the future, as well as illuminate the present. Through theatre, people connect with their own emotions, expose hidden truths, attain understanding of themselves and others. Darke County Center for the Arts’ Family Theatre Series has connected youngsters and their families to the arts ever since its founding in 1997, offering opportunity for meaningful shared experiences that expand imaginations and encourage the expression and exchange of ideas.
Prior to the opening Family Theatre Series production of DCCA’s 2016-2017 “Connections” season, DCCA offered opportunity for local youth to connect directly with the arts from August 1 through 6, once again bringing a Missoula Children’s Theatre residency to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. MCT’s Alice In Wonderland proved to be another amazing show, starring about 60 youngsters who not only learned lines, blocking, songs, and choreography in one short week, but also heightened their self-esteem and developed social skills while working as an integral member of a team of equals to achieve a common goal. The young actors connected with MCT staff and fellow cast-members while gaining lifeskills that they will utilize throughout their lives regardless of whether or not they ever again set foot on stage.
Due to a scheduling conflict, DCCA’s Family Theatre Series season opener on Sunday, November 6 was moved from St. Clair Memorial Hall to Versailles Performing Arts Center, but moving ArtsPower National Touring Theatre’s production of Chicken Dance to the poultry capital of the world seemed entirely appropriate. The highly amusing musical entertained adults and youngsters alike who giggled delightedly as they watched feisty barnyard chickens Marge and Lola cleverly and hilariously persevere through challenges and roadblocks to fulfill their long-held desire to attend a concert by the great Elvis Poultry.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” series of books celebrated those pioneers who pursued the American dream as they moved westward to build their lives as well as this country; ArtsPower National Touring Theatre’s Laura Ingalls Wilder, presented at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Sunday, January 29, takes a close look at the relationship between Laura and her family as they develop the personal strengths that enabled the sense of endless possibility fueling the pioneer spirit. The Wilders embody the American ideal as they encounter joys and triumphs in daily life, each member of the family playing an important role in achievement of common goals.
Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia has a special connection with beloved children’s book author Eric Carle; their imaginative productions based on Carle’s captivating work have won acclaim from educators, parents, and kids for generations. Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Other Treasured Stories by Eric Carle took the St. Clair Memorial Hall stage on Sunday, April 23, charming very young audience members, their older siblings, and their parents and grandparents with its appealing images and rhythmic word patterns. The ravenous journey of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the father/daughter quest revealed in Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me were also included in the performance, forming a trilogy to treasure well into the future.
DCCA also presented a very special event aimed at youngsters and their families on Sunday, November 13 when America’s favorite cowboys Riders In the Sky displayed their quick wit and wide-ranging musical skills in “Round-Up at Kids Corral.” These Grammy-winning artists, one of the most historically significant acts in the history of American music, spun tales and swung ropes and sang songs to win hearts with their authenticity and skill, connecting audiences of all ages with the benefits and joys to be found in following “The Cowboy Way.”
Through its Family Theatre Series and other presentations aimed at youth, DCCA creates connections linking the arts to a new generation, embracing the cultural values established throughout our nation’s history to create engaged and involved citizens now and in the future.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.