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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kaleidoscope at Roger Williams Park Zoo!

Kaleidoscope will be supplying characters for two of the Zoo's upcoming October events! We're so excited to be asked to participate again in the Jack-o-Lantern event and also the Spooky Zoo day time events. Check out the Zoo's website for more information about the events in general, but here is a list of dates and times our characters will be at the ZOO!

Jack-o-Lanterns
Thursday, October 7th
6pm-8pm - Little Miss Muffet and Mother Goose  /   7:30pm-9:30pm - Cinderella
Friday, October 8th
7:30pm-9:30pm  - Alice in Wonderland, Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter
Saturday, October 9th
6pm-8pm - Little Red and the Wolf    /   7:30pm-9:30pm - Cinderella
Sunday, October 10th
7:30pm-9:30pm - Snow White, Evil Queen, Prince
Friday, October 15th
6pm-8pm - Mother Goose, Little Miss Muffet, Little Bo Peep Saturday, October 16th
7:30pm-9:30pm – Pinocchio, Blue Fairy, Gepetto
Thursday, October 21st
6pm – 8pm - Cinderella, Stepmother, Fairy Godmother
Friday, October 22nd
6pm-8pm - Snow White    /   7:30pm-9:30pm – Cinderella, Fairy Godmother
Saturday, October 23rd
6pm-8pm – Cinderella   /   7:30pm-9:30pm- Blue Fairy, Pinocchio
Friday, October 29th
6pm-8pm Cinderella, Stepmother, Fairy Godmother
Saturday, October 30th
7:30pm-9:30pm - The Blue Fairy, The Fairy Godmother, Tinkerbelle

Spooky Zoo Event
Sunday, October 24th
10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm -  Characters are TBD
Saturday, October 30th
10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm - Characters are The Blue Fairy, The Fairy Godmother, Tinkerbelle
Sunday, October 31st
10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm – The Witch from “Hansel & Gretel”, Wicked Queen from “Snow White”, and Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty”



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Locally Grown - Locally Given

Support the efforts of Kaleidoscopian Santana Roberts to support the local food bank on September 25th!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Magic of Story Time

On September 18, 2010, at the Scottish Rites Auditorium (2115 Broad St. Cranston, RI), Kaleidoscope Theatre will perform the musical production The Magic of Story Time. Showtime is 2:00pm and admission is $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the performance for stadium seating and $8 in advance and $10 day of show for floor seating. This production will feature the beautiful Cinderella and Snow White! Audience members can join these two lovely princesses (and their handsome princes) as they tell the magical stories of how they first met and fell in love! For ticket reservations and more information, please call Kaleidoscope Theatre at (401) 942-3637.

Kaleidoscope Theatre's The Magic of Story Time is an original combination of the traditional stories of Snow White and Cinderella. Both princesses will read their classic tales of romance and adventure and sing fan-favorite songs from the David G. Payton version of the full-length fairytale productions. Stories and songs are taken directly from Kaleidoscope Theatre’s Fairytale Musical Series and include material from Snow White, Cinderella, Cinderella’s Wedding, and Jack and the Beanstalk. After the show, all four characters will be on hand to meet the audience, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.

Cast members are Cinderella (Meredyth Waterman of Cranston, RI); her Prince Charming (Brendan Macera of Cranston); Snow White (Jamie Dellorco of Franklin, MA); and her Prince (Dan Larson of Smithfield, RI). Creative and technical staff include Kaleidoscope Theatre’s Executive Director (David G. Payton of Cranston, RI); Kaleidoscope’s Managing Director (Bob Zannini of Cranston, RI); Stage Manager (Nicole Frechette of Lincoln, RI); Sound Engineer (Adam Ramsey of Cranston, RI); and Assistant Stage Manager/Projectionist (Diondra Perillo of Johnston, RI).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

MY FIRST BLOG by David G. Payton

I remember my parents calling me and asking me why the video recorder kept flashing 12-12-12. Now it’s my turn. I am much older now and it’s not the video recorder but the internet that sometimes baffles me. I have a great deal more empathy for my parents and their predicament with the video recorder now. Amazing how long it takes us to learn that there will always be new technology that will test us as we grow older.

Anyway, here I am trying to write my first BLOG! I can hear the laughter of even our youngest member of Kaleidoscope Theatre as they read this. I don’t care. I love laughter and if it’s at my expense, so be it. I will do my best to tell you all about Kaleidoscope and its impact on me.

Bob Zannini, still our Managing Director, came up with the name ‘kaleidoscope’ for our theatre company. We wanted it to be colorful, always changing and fun. When I was a student at Rhode Island College, Ann Colannino, my critic teacher when doing my student teaching at Central High School, was very encouraging and supportive and became our first Artistic Director. Our goal was to produce productions that would aid teachers in dealing with the really sensitive and difficult topics that were becoming evident in the ‘70’s’. Yes, that’s right, the ‘70’s’!

What was then referred to as ‘mainstreaming’ but has now become ‘inclusion’ was beginning in Rhode Island. Schools wanted a play that would educate the students all ready in the school to better understand what was going to happen when a ‘retarded’ child was mainstreamed into their school. We have come a long way in the last 30 years. We don’t refer to anyone now as the ‘retarded’ child. We say that, first and foremost, they are person, a person with a disability, who is now included in the school. Today there is even a justifiable mission to exclude the ‘R’ word totally from our contemporary vocabulary.

In 1979 we created a play called, ‘I’m Special - You’re Special’ which received numerous awards and was chosen to represent the USA in 1989 at an International Down Syndrome convention in Jerusalem, Israel. Over the years, ‘I’m Special’ went through many changes. The most recent, totally eliminating the word ‘retard’ from the script. It still is a viable production which teaches understanding and acceptance and parents and teachers still want it performed in schools.

When “I’m Special’ was first created we had an actor with no disability playing the part of David Brown, the main character in the play. We always give feedback sheets to teachers so they can evaluate what we do and how we do it. For the first five years of touring we gradually received more and more feedback sheets coming in where teachers wanted us to ‘practice what we preach’. We stated in the play that given the same opportunities as others people with disabilities can do just as much and often just as well as anyone else. I had a lot to learn…..still do!

I had no idea if what I was espousing was true. The only way to find out was to listen to what the teachers were asking for and try to see if it could be done. I needed an actor who reflected the learning disabilities of David Brown but who could play the part. I made one phone call to the Northern RI Association for Retarded Citizens, now called Homestead, and found not only the perfect actor but also a good friend, Bill Sousa.
Bill was about 18 years old and working on an assembly line at the center while also taking part in activities provided by the ARC. He was very verbal and, as I was to find out, quite intelligent and talented. He was a member of the ARC Singers and since we do include music in most, if not all, of our shows that was a plus.

Vince Petronio, an actor with our company, and I went to Woonsocket to audition Bill. (We called him Billy then as most everyone did. After a few years of working with us he asked us to call him Bill as he felt he was too old to be called ‘Billy’. Smart young man.) Vince and I met an articulate, although there was a slight speech impediment that sometimes made it difficult to understand him onstage, and very friendly young man. He could read, write and understand everything we said. Imagine, I found that amazing. Today, it is accepted and often expected of those with Down Syndrome. I didn’t realize it then but I was beginning a truly exciting and wonderful journey that would make me realize that what people say about the real person being on the inside not the outside is so very, very true.

Needless to say, Bill’s mother, Janice, was quite skeptical. Who are these people who want to put my son onstage? Luckily, she and husband, Ralph, decided to give us a chance to prove that what we wanted Bill to do was indeed possible. She and Bill came to many rehearsals and Janice traveled with us to every performance for the first year or so. Janice rewarded us by eventually allowing Bill to travel on his own without her. A very difficult thing for a parent to do, but she realized he was capable and needed to do this on his own.

Most, if not all, of the actors, including myself, had never met someone like Bill. We were anxious to get to know him and he felt the same. I don’t remember how we discovered it but we found out that Bill was not only an excellent reader but also an excellent speller. On one occasion we were all traveling in the van to a show and we started to ask Bill to spell different words. We kept trying to find more and more difficult words for him to spell but we couldn’t stump him. This went on for some time and eventually Bill stated to all of us loudly and clearly, ‘I have had e-n-o-u-g-h!’ We all laughed and thought that was a really clever way to tell us to stop and from that moment on we never again asked him to spell anything for us. Bill had begun his teaching of us.

Bill’s speech problem was interfering with his being able to be understood all the time while onstage. We created what we called the ‘echo effect’. We simply found a way to repeat what Bill had said if we thought it was not going to be clearly understood by our audiences. It worked perfectly. We found a way to make it work and we have used this realization to find ways to make it work for our actors with other disabilities as well. We had learned that there is always a way. Thanks, Bill.

After each school performance, if there is time, we always try to open it up for questions from the audience. One of the questions that was often asked of Bill was - ‘Are you really retarded?’ It was not asked in malice but rather out of the child’s natural curiosity and innocence. For so many of our audience members this was the first time they interacted or even saw a person with Down Syndrome on stage. Bill always dispelled the misguided fears and misunderstandings some people have of persons with disabilities through his performances so well that quite often it was difficult for some to believe he was actually a person with Down Syndrome.

Herein lies the rub, Bill did not feel that he was ‘retarded’ so he would often answer, ‘No.’ when asked if he was. I would quickly jump up and add that because the word retard means ‘slow’ and Bill does so many things we do just as well if not better, he feels that he is not retarded but just happens to be a person with Down Syndrome.

In the early 80’s inclusion was so new and frightening to so many that those with Down Syndrome sensed the fear and just like anyone else wanted to fit in. Bill wanted to be accepted for himself and not to be identified by a disability. Eventually, Bill answered the question with “Yes, I am retarded. I have Down Syndrome but that doesn’t stop me from doing anything I want to do.” It never did.

It wasn’t always a bed of roses. Bill was socially inexperienced. Not having been in an inclusion program in school Bill was not always able to understand what was appropriate behavior. Especially when it came to girls. Bill really liked girls and was always on the lookout for a girlfriend. Quite often, a teacher or woman in the audience would come up to him after a performance and give him a hug. Sometimes Bill didn’t want to let go. In the beginning, when his Mom wasn’t around, there might be a pretty, young teacher who would give Bill a kiss on the cheek and he would quickly reciprocate with a kiss on her lips. That created a bit of a furor but we realized that someone needed to talk with Bill about his behavior if he wanted to continue touring with us. His Dad took charge and we never had another problem in that respect again.

After a couple of years of touring to schools with “I’m Special” Bill felt ready to do more. We were coming back from a show in early spring and most of the cast were talking about the summer fairytale touring we were about to do. Bill tapped me on the shoulder and asked what part he would have that summer. I suddenly realized that yet again, we had been saying: ‘…given the chance a person with disabilities can do whatever we all can do’ and here was Bill asking a perfectly natural question. I started that summer to write parts which people with disabilities could play in our summer tours. I couldn’t change the plot of the fairytales we were performing but I could create ancillary characters that would aid the heros and heroines. If not for Bill’s simple question that day our audiences would never have experienced all the fantastic performances our actors with disabilities have provided for them. Thanks, Bill, for helping me ‘practice what I preach’ and for opening my eyes in so many ways.

Kaleidoscope strives to open doors for actors with disabilities and, hopefully, provides all of our actors with the opportunity to work with and learn from one another. Bill unfortunately passed on this year but his spirit, humor and the lessons he taught us will always be with us. His physical presence will be sorely missed but he put us on the road to where we are today and we appreciate his talents and kindness more than ever. Quite often, as the touring day would wear on, I would announce to the cast, “I’m hungry!’ whereupon Bill would always respond with, “I’m Bill!” Corny? Yes. But it always brought a smile to our faces. Thank goodness there’s a little bit of ‘Bill’ in all of us.

Thanks for reading my first blog. Hope you like it

~ David

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tickets now onsale!

Our monthly series in Saugus, MA will continue into the fall and now Kaleidoscope will be holding a monthly series of their own at the Scottish Rites Auditorium in Cranston, RI! We will be presenting a different fairytale musical each month all year round and we hope you can join us! Tickets for the stadium seats will be $10 in advance and $12 day of show. For the floor, tickets will be $8 in advance and $10 at the door. To reserve your tickets, please call Kaleidoscope Theatre at (401) 942-3637.

Here’s the line-up!
* Saturday, September 18th at 2pm – The Magic of Story Time
* Saturday, October 16th at 2pm – The Frog Prince
* Saturday, November 6th at 2pm – Snow White
* Saturday, December 4th at 2pm – Cinderella’s Christmas

The first show is The Magic of Story Time - Come join Cinderella, Snow White, and their handsome princes as they retell the magical stories of how they met. Stories and songs are taken directly from Kaleidoscope Theatre’s Fairytale Musical Series and include material from Snow White, Cinderella, Cinderella’s Wedding and Jack and the Beanstalk.

What's your favorite fairytale?