Monday, May 6, 2013

Family Arts Day - Lisanne Shaffer

Family Arts Day 2013
Lisanne Shaffer

On Saturday April 27th CCNY Educational Theatre hosted Family Arts Day at Aaron Davis Hall.  I was lucky enough to act as coordinator for the event alongside the amazing Sobha Kavanakudiyil!  When I was first asked to take on this role I was delighted to have the opportunity but also extremely overwhelmed.  This is the third annual Family Arts Day so I wanted to make it the best yet.  I quickly learned that hours of planning were going to be vital to having a successful day.  I have been to community arts events in the past and never fully appreciated the amount of careful planning that goes along with these events.  I will certainly look at community events through a completely different lens now, the lens of pure appreciation!

In planning Family Arts Day Sobha and I collectively decided on the performances, when and where to put each performance, timing of all activities, what supplies to order, and where each volunteer would spend their time throughout the fast paced day.  I am so grateful for everything I learned from Sobha during all of this outlining.  It felt very much like the final weeks leading up to a huge performance.  There were equal moments of excitement and doubt.  I learned that things will not always go as planned and that there will be major and minor hiccups.  Sobha handles all of these situations with such calm and poise.  I learned to smile through it all, because it will all work out in the end.

On the morning of the 27th I was buzzing with excitement.  I woke up to an absolutely beautiful day and was so eager to get the day started.  All of the volunteers were on time and equally eager which made the morning run so smoothly.  I was so proud to a part of this dynamic educational theatre community we have at CCNY.  Our theatre skills have made us so effective at getting things set up.  I was so grateful that everyone came together in such a positive way.  Everyone worked together seamlessly and at 10 am we were ready to rock and roll!  The morning was a bit quiet but people did begin arriving right at 10.  The first performance was a performance piece on fables done by Sobha’s Children’s Theatre undergraduate class.  They were so excited to perform and did an excellent job.  It was a great start to the day!  This was followed by a melodious sing along.  The energy really seemed to pick up when the sing a long started.  After the sing along we had an original performance written by Jono Waldman called “Ruby and the Storm”.  Jono and his amazing cast, Wendy Rojas and Sobha K, were an absolute delight to watch.  From here everyone was whisked away into the black box theatre for a performance of “I Laid an Egg” by Double Image Theatre Lab.  By this time we had well over 100 people at the event and people kept filing in!  After Double Image Theatre Lab gave an outstanding performance the craft tables were really buzzing.  I saw creative paper bag puppets on the hands of quite a few rambunctious kids, so many different animals were coming to life due to the amazing skills of our face painters, beautiful paper flowers colored the space and a mini masquerade was beginning as children tried on their feathered mask creations.  Then, all of a sudden a drumbeat began as the talented Eric Hoffman, Kailie Larkin and Sarah Abrams led a huge audience out onto the beautiful lawn for a fantastic clown show! It was during this show that I saw so many parents playing and getting involved with their children.  It was amazing to see Dads playing imaginative games with their children and Moms making shapes with their kids using only body parts.  We were so lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day and such talented clowns. Bravo to all who were involved.  After the clown show, we had the talented Martha Hearn’s original play “Bright Lights, Big Cheese”.  This show starred Lindsey Detota, Lindsey Lieberman, Olga Putilina, and Julia Niedzwiecki.  It was amazing how much this show really inspired a sense of play throughout the kids watching.  I heard one child say, “the mice just wanted to play, can you believe that?!”.  We ended the day with a raffle. It warmed my heart to know that those who won could continue their learning and appreciation of the arts further with prizes including tickets to the New Victory Theatre, "Newsies" on Broadway and a one-year membership to Lincoln Center!

Overall I couldn’t be happier with how the day turned out.  Being a part of the planning was such a valuable experience that I will certainly take with me through what I hope is a long career as a theatre educator. I want to give a huge heart felt thanks to all of the volunteers who gave your time for this event! I am in awe of the people I am fortunate enough to get to work with.  To sum things up, a child whom I know came to me at the end of the day and said “I never knew I could have so many adventures in one day!”  Congratulations to all who participated, you gave everyone involved adventures that they will never forget!

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