Posts Tagged ‘Arts Education’

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The Reviews are in – 5th graders Love STREB!

February 15, 2011

Jessica Kennedy, a 5th grade teacher at New Brunswick’s Roosevelt Elementary School gives us her review of the dance group STREB’s recent school day performance on Feb. 4. Also, the kids themselves share a few words with us.

Inertia, motion, force, energy, load, effort, work…the kids are making so many connections to our just-completed science unit on levers & pulleys: today they are seeing trained artist-athletes interact with machines. And it is beautiful. I’ve never seen the excitement level so high: in the first 5 minutes, when i heard a kid behind me shout, “I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.” The loud music, the lights….as fun and unpredictable—and scary—as any rock concert i’ve ever been to. I ADORE, and so do the kids, the subversive boom of directions hurled among the performers…a vital communication missing from all the dance I’ve ever seen…Could there be a more perfect break in the tedium of almost two months of cancelled outdoor recreation at school, where the kids have to sit quietly in the auditorium during recess, because the teachers need to park their cars on the “blacktop” instead of the icy streets. Something like this gives me a much-needed referent to talk about art, commitment, passion…possibilities…wish dance were emphasized as much as sports in our schools.

Glad I was with my 10-year-olds who could explain to me exactly what was going on…they missed nothing! Evocative of Houdini, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls…How brilliant when physical and intellectual bravery are experienced hand in hand.

Reviews from Jessica Kennedy’s 5th grade class:

AJ: “That show made us excited and still. Elizabeth Streb is a genius for making Streb.”

AP: “It reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci. The part where the women spread out like a star reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s VITRUVIAN MAN!”

SM: “Streb is unspeakable. It took my breath away. Amazing.”

AA: “The performance was so awesome. Everyone was cheering for Streb when the performance ended.”

KB: “I thought STREB actioneers had a lot of skills. When everyone was in the box I was speechless, also when they were doing their dives. AMAZING’.”

DV: “My favorite part is when the performers climbed this ladder to get on this moving bar. Then this performer said to move the bar as up as it can so she can jump off it, then everyone was screaming then she jumped for the bar and landed on a drop bed and I was amazed. I loved it.”

MA: “My favorite part of the show is the part when you guys got on the round circle because you guys were brave and I saw your owner he was cool you guys rock!”

DS: “The polar wander was the coolest performance in the show.”

JB: “My favorite part was when all of the actors threw themselves from the high spot. It was amazing because it was a high height.”

PM: “This performance was so great!! I was scared when they threw yourselves from a high surface to a sponge all the way down to the floor!!!”

SM: “I liked the way the performers threw themselves off the poles.”

EH: “The show was amazing. They threw themselves like if they action figures. Please be careful when you perform. Have luck when you perform.”

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Four Days, 44 Shows (Really.)

February 2, 2011

By Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

The week before last I was in Tampa Bay, FL, at the annual IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) Showcase and conference. And yes, I really did see 44 shows in just 4 days. And went to workshops, meetings, lectures, and a party or two. Despite the grueling schedule, I came home reenergized and excited about the things I saw, heard, and did.

I’ll begin with the sheep. Or, I should say, Les moutons. That’s the name of this bizarre but inspired interactive performance piece presented by a dance company from Toronto called Corpus. They set up a sheep pen (complete with sheep dung that I hope wasn’t real) on the plaza alongside the river walk. Through the crowd came a shepherd driving his flock: dancers dressed in sheep’s costumes. The dancer/actors who played the sheep should all win awards for never once breaking character during the show. They did the usual sheep-y things, including getting shorn and milked. I tasted the milk, warm from the udder. (Don’t ask.) Kids in the audience had a chance to come up to the pen and feed the critters. This show was totally goofy and unexpected. I’d like to figure out a way to work Les moutons into our State Theatre season. Can you hear me out there, Cook College?

Another show featuring herd animals was equally strange and wonderful: The Wolf and the Goat, by Italy’s Compagnia Rodisio. A wolf and a goat, natural enemies, take shelter one stormy night and, not recognizing each other in the dark, become friends. When daylight comes, will the wolf eat the goat? Will the goat manage to escape? Or will they break the accepted order of things and remain friends? (The audience never finds out.) The show is basically two actors—not in animal costumes, thank goodness—a red velvet settee, and three small lighted trees. Dressed in a simple white frock, Manuela Capece, playing the goat was all wide-eyed innocence, while Davide Doro, as the wolf, managed to be both sleazy and seductively sexy at the same time. The Wolf and the Goat was originally in Italian; my colleagues and I were further impressed when we learned that Davide Doro spoke no English, and had learned his part phonetically. Bravo, Davide!

Without a doubt, my very favorite showcase was Grug. Now, I will confess to you here that I normally don’t get too excited about shows for really little kids. But I lost my heart to a character who “began his life as the top of a burrawong tree” and who looks like this:

Grug was created by Australia’s Windmill Theatre and is based on a children’s book series that I confess I’d never heard of. The production was everything theater should be: imaginative, expertly performed, and completely captivating. I loved the clever design of the sets and puppets. Most of all, I was struck by how the actors seemed genuinely delighted to be performing for their young audience; there was no condescension and none of that exaggerated cheerfulness that makes me cringe at so many other shows targeted to kids this age. As we like to remind each other in my profession, children are just like our adult audience, only smaller.
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NONPROFIT STATE THEATRE BENEFIT RAISES $520,000!

May 26, 2010

On May 22, the State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010, That’s Entertainment! A Las Vegas Experience featuring Lynda Carter honored Dr. Norman Reitman and raised $520,000 for the nonprofit performing arts center. Additionally, the State Theatre distributed its first “Leadership in the Arts Award” to retiring president Wesley Brustad. The Gala festivities, which included dinner and dancing at The Heldrich hotel, also included an authentic casino experience with a variety of gaming tables, raffles, and opportunities to win prizes.

The Gala Chairs were Ann. H. Asbaty, Senior Vice President, National Accounts, CIGNA, and Efrem B. Dlugacz, Vice President, Total Rewards and Health Resources, Johnson & Johnson.

“An incredible Gala Committee and Theatre staff with the support of our individual patrons and corporate sponsors created the magic again. The beneficiaries, of course, are the arts in Central New Jersey and the educations programs sponsored by the State Theatre,” commented Gala co-chairs Efrem Dlugacz and Ann Asbaty.

“In a time when special event attendance and funding seem to be waning, we were thrilled to be busting at the seams in The Heldrich hotel. The State Theatre grossed over half a million dollars with this event, allowing the Theatre to finish its fiscal year solidly in the black. This was in no small part due to Dr. Norman Reitman, our honoree of the evening. If ever there was a man who symbolizes all that is good about New Brunswick and its environs, it is Dr. Reitman. We were proud to stand with him in service to our community,” added Wes Brustad, State Theatre President & CEO.

Brustad, who is retiring this year, was also presented with an award at this year’s Gala. The State Theatre Board of Trustees awarded Brustad with a “Leadership Award in the Arts” award for his years of service to the arts community in New Jersey and around the country.

More than 550 patrons attended the Black-Tie Dinner Dance at New Brunswick’s The Heldrich hotel. Among the attendees were community, arts, business and civic leaders from central New Jersey and around the state.

The State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010 committee included (Trustee Vice Chairman/Gala Co-chair) Ann H. Asbaty of Randolph; (Trustee/Gala Co-chair) Efrem B. Dlugacz of Princeton; Madiha Boraie and Karla Brustad of Milltown; Diane Garback of North Brunswick; Cathy Gombas of East Brunswick; (Trustee) Bill Herman of Clifton; Carolyn and Dave Horn of Hillsborough; (Trustee)Patricia Howard of Manalapan; (Trustee Chairman) Andrew J. Markey of Basking Ridge; Hon. Cathy Nicola of North Brunswick; (Trustee Treasurer) Morton Plawner of Monroe Twp; and Lisa Rapolas of Somerset.

The State Theatre Benefit Gala 2010 Honoree was Dr. Norman Reitman. Dr. Reitman, an alumnus of both Rutgers College and NYU Medical School, has been a patron of the State Theatre since its doors opened in 1921. After starting his medical practice in 1938, Reitman developed a solo practice into Cardiology Associates of New Brunswick, a partnership of 11 physicians.

Thank you to all the sponsors that made this happen, including ACS, a Xerox Company; BNY Mellon; CIGNA; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies; PSE&G, Russell and Stephanie Deyo; Mercer; and Towers Watson; to name a few.

Photo by Kyle D. Barker.
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Report from the IPAY Showcase in Pittsburgh

February 5, 2010

Just got back from the annual Showcase sponsored by IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth). IPAY is made up of arts presenters, artists, and artist managers, all on a mission to bring high-quality performing arts to young audiences. I love being involved with this group because I meet all kinds of people from around the world who share my passion for getting kids hooked on drama, music, dance, storytelling, and other live theater. During Showcase I was voted onto the IPAY Board of Directors. It’s a tremendous honor to receive this recognition from my peers. I’m totally psyched about taking on a leadership role in the organization.

About 300 people attend the IPAY Showcase each year. We see shows—a LOT of shows—from companies around the world. This year there were 20 full-length showcases, as well as “spotlights”—10-minute excerpts—of an additional 23 shows. The companies were from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, and even Iceland. I’ve discovered some of my favorite shows and companies through Showcase and brought them here to the State Theatre. Among them are Det Lille Turneteater’s astonishing Hamlet and the playful, touching Snowflake. This week is the State Theatre’s residency with ScrapArtsMusic, an ensemble I first saw at the Montreal Showcase in 2003. I’ve been waiting seven years to get them here!

Showcase is held in a different place each year; this time it was in Pittsburgh. Our host was the Pittsburgh International Children’s Theater, which is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The Trust has transformed downtown Pittsburgh by restoring the city’s grand theaters, building new facilities, commissioning public art projects, and developing urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces. I have to say… the vast array of Pittsburgh’s arts resources made me more than a little envious! We saw Showcases at nine different venues, including the brand-new and totally cool August Wilson Center. Loved the sail-like exterior and rich purple interior.

When I wasn’t watching showcases, I was in the exhibit hall talking to artists and artists managers, participating in professional development sessions, and of course, partying with friends and colleagues! With so many activities packed into four days, the conference kept me hopping from 8am until as late as 11pm. By the way, the Director of Marketing at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is none other than Marc Fleming, who used to be Marking Director at the State Theatre. Marc and I had a chance to catch up a little over lunch at a fantastic restaurant called Nine on Nine. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, give it a try.
Pittsburgh was my 16th Showcase, but my first time as a member of the Selection Committee. Our group met back in June to review the submissions and choose which ones would be awarded a showcase slot. I felt both excited and a little scared; conference attendees can be absolutely brutal if they don’t like the showcase selections. I can tell you, the screening process is difficult! The committee makes its selections based on videos—always a risky proposition when it comes to assessing live theater. A couple of shows didn’t quite live up to their videos. The opposite happens, too. There was a one-woman show called Nearly Lear, an ingenious retelling of Shakespeare’s play. Based on the video, we awarded it only a ten-minute spotlight. Seeing it live, we all wished we’d given it a full showcase. Still, the feedback was that the Selection Committee did a great job overall.

Two of my favorite productions presented at Showcase were Australian imports. Plop! is a quirky, imaginative show for very young children. We Built This City, a “public construction extravaganza,” is an installation piece in which kids and families build and then destroy an entire city made out of thousands of empty cardboard boxes. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun! With any luck, you’ll get to see these shows someday at the State Theatre.

—Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education, State Theatre

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The Festival of Imagination At Play

January 26, 2010

This winter we are proud to present the 4th annual Hub City Carnivale—a winter festival for the imagination at play. It’s a non-stop schedule of events and activities for kids from 1 to 100 with 67 events packed into 30 days from January 30-February 28, beginning with One-Man Star Wars Trilogy (1/30) and ending with three magical performances of Le Grand Cirque (2/27-28).

On February 5, don’t miss the chance catch a brilliant performance by Scrap Arts Music—an adrenaline-laced power-percussion performance rooted in street performance, jazz, and world music traditions. If you like Stomp, you will love Scrap Arts Music! A one-of-a-kind blend of intricate rhythms, athletic choreography, raw energy, and theatrical flair, the group performs on more than 140 invented instruments crafted from industrial scrap.

Joining the festival line-up comic genius Tomáš Kubínek (2/19) in his State Theatre premiere! A self-proclaimed “Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible,” his inspired fusion of clowning, acrobatics, music, magic, and absurdity will astonish and delight people of all ages.

Other festival highlights include the Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra (2/14) in a special Valentine’s Day all-Tchaikovsky program; the very funny one-man stage show, My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy! (2/21); folk singer Ani DiFranco (2/2); a celebration of the music of THE WHO by local musician Glen Burtnik & Friends (2/13); and a special one-night only performance of the Broadway favorite, Jesus Christ Superstar (2/20).

Returning this year is State Theatre’s “Family Day on Presidents Day,” where you and your family can spend the whole day here. In addition to offering three performances of Fan Yang’s “Gazillion Bubble Show” Stage Spectacular (2/15), we invite everyone to participate in a variety of free activities, including face painting, balloon animals, and sing-a-longs, as well as a variety of workshops for kids and parents.Bring your friends and family, and join us in beating the winter blahs this February at Hub City Carnivale. For a complete Hub City Carnivale schedule including family day workshops and special happenings, visit www.StateTheatreNJ.org/HubCityCarnivale.

Hope to see you soon!

Wes Brustad
–President & CEO

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State Theatre presents Free Program for College Students

November 7, 2009

Here at the State Theatre we present a variety of free programs for different ages as part of our mission to better serve and enrich the lives of the surrounding community. We do everything we can to make sure people know about these programs. So, with that said, below is some information from our Education department on a FREE program that we offer to college students. If you are a college student or if you know any, please read or pass this on.

Thank you for supporting the arts!

Kelly Skinner
–Director of Public Relations

Are you a college student? Do you like free food, entertainment, and social networking? Then be sure to check out Scientists Exploring the Arts, a unique program inspired by the relationship between performing arts and science. Although you may be wondering what these two seemingly different disciplines could possibly have in common, there are actually several elements that are essential to both: creativity, innovation, problem solving, teamwork, and process. As a way to celebrate and explore these similarities, the State Theatre has partnered with National Starch, LLC. to bring college students Scientists Exploring the Arts. “National Starch is excited to be co-sponsoring this unique event with the State Theatre. The pre-performance lectures and the shows have been outstanding and have provided a memorable evening for all,” commented Joseph Light, Head of Global Development, Customer Solutions & Product Innovation Groups for National Starch and State Theatre Trustee. “I like to think of it as left brain meets right brain…Who says the arts and sciences can’t work together?!” added State Theatre President & CEO Wes Brustad.

The program is totally FREE and open to college students (both graduate and undergraduate) majoring in the one of the following: food science, molecular gastronomy, nutrition, chemistry, chemical engineering, statistics, environmental science, food sensory evaluation, material science, business (finance, sales), marketing, computer science, and communications. The program includes a ticket to the performance at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, a pre-performance “Exploration” with an arts educator, and a pre-performance dinner, where there will be opportunities for networking with National Starch employees and other students. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so apply early to reserve your spot! Contact Jennifer Cunha at 732-246-7469, ext. 545 or check out www.statetheatrenj.org/education/scientistsexploringarts.asp to guarantee your space in this incredible program.

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Rutgers and the State Theatre, Perfect Together

June 30, 2009

Part of my job as University Liaison consists of engaging the Rutgers community in all things State Theatre. We present world-renowned artists in almost every discipline and many times these artists are available for workshops, master classes, Q&A’s etc. We want Rutgers students, faculty, and staff to take advantage of all we have to offer. But they need to know about these special opportunities in order to participate. Last year around this time, I organized a presentation to Rutgers faculty and staff to promote last season’s events. On Wednesday, July 1st, we will do it again for our 2009-2010 performances. There are several performances we hope will generate excitement, among them The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, MacHomer, Scrap Arts Music, and The Amish Project. We want the Rutgers community, especially students, to see the State Theatre as their neighborhood entertainment and performing arts venue. There is so much more happening here than most people think. Hopefully on Wednesday we will begin to plan for some great collaborations with Rutgers.

–Katie Pyott, Education Associate & University Liaison

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/. Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.