MADE Garden at Children's Museum of Southern MN kicked off this week! Four performers and I investigated movement, themes and the beginnings of characters through a devising process. Check out what we were up to!
Movement exercises, character work and some very serious research on bee colony collapse and our food system. We have a wonderful ensemble of students from the Mankato-area universities and colleges. These actors have tons of experience in dance and theatre. We are all pumped and ready for the next two weeks of work with young people!
Children's Museum of the East End- Bridgehampton, NY
What a joy to spend a couple days at Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, NY. Though we initially wrote a grant to create an original installation around bay ecology through NYSCA, we changed course to use resources to enhance existing programs at the museum working with the Latino community.
In a wonderfully diverse community, the Hamptons is home to spanish-speaking immigrants from all over Central, South America and Mexico. The museum positions itself to support families' transitions through engaging programs, access to services and community-building. I got to participate in two programs during my visit: a program for mamas and babies birth to 16 months and an afterschool family program based around science curriculum called Ciencias.
I was really inspired by the babies in this group! Moms had the opportunity to bond and discuss developmental milestones and changes they've noticed with their little ones. Babies danced, played percussion instruments and investigated a parachute, too!
Later in the day 30 families arrived at the museum to continue working on a semester-long unit on Sharks for CMEE's Ciencias program. Children shared a dance piece they choreographed on shark feeding patterns and sculpted different shark breeds out of clay.
After the children went off to play in the museum I worked with parents to create underwater elements for the display of the sharks. In a couple weeks the museum will host an event to celebrate and showcase the group's work on sharks and will feature an ocean installation with the hanging shark sculptures. Parents always create artwork alongside their children and work on their own projects too.
I loved being part of these rich programs at CMEE and look forward to seeing how theatre engagement is incorporated into their practice. What a trip! Below is the woman behind all of these programs at CMEE, Leah Oppenheimer. As a social worker/social justice educator focusing around early education, this woman is my new hero!
At the airport, on my way home from a busy week away at the Association of Children's Museum's yearly conference, Interactivity. This year, the field traveled to Stamford/Norwalk, CT where SteppingStones Children's Museum was our host.
My head is still spinning from all the great contacts and sessions shared at the conference. I got to present two sessions at ACM and will explain a bit below:
Cultivating Good: Bringing ideas into Action! (Thursday)
I presented this session in partner with Cathy Saunders and Megan Fischer from Providence Children's Museum in RI. My half began with an overview of my FINE Arts Residency Project at CM Pittsburg, THE NEST, an overview of the form and how EMPATHY motivated participation. Next, groups created TABLEAU based on a collective story they made based on a scenario where an unknown creature has made its home in the conference hotel...
After tableau time, groups got to work making temporary homes for the stranger to reflect their narratives about it. Super cool work!
Engaging Visitors, Bolstering Literacy and Strengthening Community Through Theatre (saturday)
On a panel with fellow theatre artists working in children's museums; Reba Short from Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine and David Hutchman from Please Touch! Museum in Philadelphia. On the last morning of the conference, people were tired after a long week so...we played bingo to keep things lively. My co-presenters are both puppeteers who perform on their exhibit floors and create original performances for/with young people. I was so inspired by their work! Since I didn't take any photos of our session in progress, I want to share some image of the other's work:
I presented on promoting LITERACY through creative drama via Toddler Wednesday at my museum, Children's Museum of Southern MN and Installation Performances. Lots of collaboration and fun!
Time for reflection
Now that i've been back in MN for a few weeks, I have had time to reflect on many aspects of our 'ShadowDreamScape' collaboration at Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. I will be working on a more formal reflection of the process in 2016 as it was a very meaningful and impactful project and I continue to learn from it.
Came across some photos from a staff training I led at CDM the evening before 'ShadowDreamScape' opened back in November 2015. Our performers, who are in every sense professionals, got an opportunity to play and perform in the space with live visitors for the first time. CDM incorporates their floor staff, denoted as Exhibit and Program Specialist into the development of programming at the museum. For November's training, 40+ floor staff joined us in the installation space for a play/explore/report format that also served as the official dress rehearsal for the project. After spending half an hour exploring, the group reflected on important connections to families visiting the museum:
I have been back in MN for a week now after opening 'ShadowDreamScape' at Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. Performers activate the space on the weekends from now until 12/20 when they will be performing each and every day. The exhibit remains open daily for visitors to engage with the space and props. Check out this video shot the SECOND day the project opened- from two amazing performers, Amy Shank and Haylee Merrill who play the Hand and Moth. Performers are working on developing short performance sequences to present to visitors inside the space. Basically, this segment was improvised a couple of times before rolling this recording shot right after the space closed to the public. Check on the project's landing page to see more photos from the project!