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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #9: More Fun Than A Swirlie

Greetings fellow friends of Kaleidoscope. Sorry I've been a stranger on the blog for a while, but as they say, life happens.

I've been grateful to be so busy with Kaleidoscope lately. Usually my stint starts and ends in the summer with the touring, with the exception of a show thrown in once in a while throughout the year. However I've been trying to make myself more available to the company when it comes to shows and am trying to audition more often. This month, I've been involved with showings of Little Red. Our first one was in Saugus, MA just last Sunday and we are gearing up for the big haul to New Jersey this Saturday. More on that next time.

I've also been doing some productions of B.U.L.L.Y. as of late. B.U.L.L.Y. is a very different animal in the Kaleidoscope Zoo. For those of you who do not know, we take this one out on the road during the school year and perform at various schools around the area. We were actually at two schools earlier today, in fact, and I know that there are more performances on the way. It's not just the scheduling that makes the show so different, but the nature of the show as well.

David has always made a point to have some lessons to be learned in the fairy tale musicals, both on and off the moral playing field. Little Red, for example, encourages the kids to not play around with real guns and not go anywhere with strangers, as well as present the fact that you don't need the nuclear "mom-dad-child" combo to be a family (Little Red's mother mentions how she doesn't understand Grandma needing a man around the house, to which Little Red responds "that's just silly"). B.U.L.L.Y. is based around morality, specifically the growing problem of bullying in our schools. As with a fairy tale musical, B.U.L.L.Y. makes clear statements on what the right thing to do is, but also it encourages the audience of youngsters to relay information back, primarily specific incidents of bullying.

To me, the idea that David wrote such a show is wonderful, and I know for a fact that it has gotten numerous praise from all over. This is exactly what theatre is supposed to be doing; it is a tool for social commentary and expressing the situations that face us today. Sometimes people don't truly understand the world around them until they see something happening in front of them. One might argue that the theatre may be showing things through an exaggerated lens. Perhaps its the fact that actors have to be "bigger" on stage in order to translate well to the audience, or perhaps it is a preconceived notion on the part of the audience. In truth, the stage is willing to face the tougher issues in a way nothing else can. Kaleidoscope has done just that by facing the reality of bullying in our schools.

Performing in this production has a special quality to it because it carries such an important message, and what works so well is that it doesn't feel like a PSA. The children are always into the show and get very excited very easily. More often than not they are attentive, and there are always interesting questions and comments coming from them. The fact that the teachers have just as positive a response to the show is a plus. In a way, it's because of the adults that the show even exists. It was the parents and teachers of our audiences that suggested a show be done concerning bullying. The fact that the show is successful is one thing. It means so much more that we are able to fulfill the request of our audience and offer them what they truly want to see.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

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What's your favorite fairytale?