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arts activities for school break renaissance theatre

Five Affordable Arts Activities for School Breaks

by Colleen Cook

When the routine changes and your kids are home on break, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do to keep them learning, entertained, and engaged – especially if the weather isn’t ideal. Here are five fun and educational activities you can do with children of any age – without spending a million dollars!

Experience local art

Breaks from school are the perfect time to engage with your local arts scene, in part because of your extra free time, but especially because you can stretch bedtime a little later than you normally would on a school night. Check your local newspaper’s online calendar to see what’s happening near your home. If you live near us, here are links to a few events calendars:

Mansfield News Journal Events Calendar

Richland Source Events Calendar

Binge a musician

If the weather isn’t cooperating, instead of a Netflix binge, deep dive a musician or composer. Pick an artist or composer, listen to some of their greatest works on Spotify or Apple Music, visit the library and check out their biography, watch YouTube videos of the artist performing or great performances of that artist. Make food together that represents the artist’s local culture. At the end of the day, you’ll all be experts on the musician and you will have created some excellent memories together.

Build a sculpture out of recyclables

We’ve gotten better as a family about separating out our recyclables, and each week we have quite a lot that hits the curb for pickup. Before you send them out, though, grab those leftover Amazon boxes and oatmeal tubs and some masking tape and build a sculpture together. If you have a few children you could challenge them to create the tallest structure together, or a prompt like “build your favorite animal” or “create a dollhouse.” Just be sure to wash out any plastic or glass containers well and watch out for sharp edges on any containers.

Read a story together 

Stories don’t have to be just for bedtime! School breaks are the perfect time to read an extended story together over a handful of days. When choosing your book, consider your child’s attention span and interests, as well as the content of the book. Your local library’s children’s librarian likely has some great suggestions and free, easy access to your ideal book, but you can also utilize tools like this one to select something appropriate and engaging for your family.

Write and perform a play

Have a free day? Create a story together! Start by mapping out your story (you can use this free, handy printable or any graphic organizer like it). Then, create your set utilizing whatever you have available – cardboard, bedsheets, furniture, whatever! Gather costumes for your characters around the house, or visit a local thrift store and find your needed items. Write your script from your story map, or simply map out your scenes and improvise the dialogue. Rehearse it a few times, then invite family and friends to come and enjoy your play. Be sure to pop some popcorn and film it!

 

A Look Back at Some Favorites

By Colleen Cook 

One of the biggest perks of working at the Renaissance, in my opinion, is that we get to see the shows as a part of our job. I have always been a huge fan of live arts and entertainment, and in some instances a bit picky when it comes to what I consider a well-done performance. My personal favorite genre of live arts is musical theatre.

Having had the opportunity over the years to see hundreds of musicals on stages from Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theatres, community theatres, to schools, I feel confident saying that I truly feel that the Richland Bank Broadway series at the Renaissance is some of the best live theatre around.

As we prepare to open one of the most beautiful shows I know of, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I find myself reflecting on some of my personal favorites from my past five years employed at the Ren. I’d love to hear what your favorite moments have been, so be sure to comment or tell us on Facebook!

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2014

Les Miserables, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2014

This show was the very first I ever saw on Broadway, and remains one of my most favorite performances at the Renaissance. The cast was truly incredible – every single role was perfection – and the story still makes my heart beat a little fast.

Hot Mess

Hot Mess the Musical photo by Jeff Sprang

Hot Mess the Musical photo by Jeff Sprang

Original productions are one of the most awesome things the Renaissance offers to the community. Our dynamite Artistic Director Michael Thomas brings a wealth of experience and creativity to our stage every time he directs, but it’s on another level when he writes the shows. Hot Mess is screamingly funny while telling a great story with a relevant cultural message. If we did this show every weekend, I’d be in a seat every time.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

A Christmas Carol, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

We performed this show more than a year ago, but I still find myself thinking about it. The setting of the show was stripped down, allowing for the story and the beautifully composed music to shine. I have always liked A Christmas Carol, but this performance made me love it.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

Beauty and the Beast, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

When I think about this production, I remember how delighted my daughter was by the show, how mesmerized I was by the music, but above all, I remember the set. Jason Kaufman and his team built this intricate, lacy false proscenium that still dazzles me when I think of it. The commitment to detail in that show was breathtaking.

See our Richland Bank Broadway Series Lineup Here

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What is Broadway Camp?

By Audra DeLaney

If you are a follower of our social media platforms, you have seen a number of posts about a program called Broadway Camp, formerly Camp Broadway. Broadway Camp is a theatre day camp program put on by the Renaissance Education Department that is directed by Mansfield Youth Theatre Director and Education Department Assistant, Dauphne Maloney. Two sessions of Broadway Camp are offered every summer in June and they are open to children ages 8-13. The main purpose of Broadway Camp is for the students in attendance to create and perform their own mini-musical after taking the time to learn about what goes into delivering a worthwhile performance. Each camp is a week long and participants work for four days on their skills, and then on Friday they perform their musical for their families and friends.

Duaphne has a few helpers during Broadway Camp every year. This year, Technical and Production Intern Andy Blubaugh, as well as MY Theatre alumna Hannah Bloir, helped Dauphne run the camp, teach the participants, and do everything in between.

CampB1

Broadway Camp campers learn how to tie dye from Andy Blubaugh. Tie dye shirts are what the campers always wear during their performance on Friday for their parents.

Hannah said she is excited to have been able to help with Broadway Camp this year.

“I love watching the kids progress. I love when they start out with initial awkwardness because they don’t know what’s in store and they don’t know each other,” Hannah said. “Then as the week goes on, they start learning more about each other and about the music that we’re learning and it’s so cool to see the end product.”

Hannah said it is interesting to help out during Broadway Camp because of the different dynamics between they campers. She was in a number of shows directed by Dauphne during her middle/high school years and is happy to impact the lives children.

“It’s kinda of fun to be back in that with the kids and see how their different personalities all work together. It’s a lot of fun honestly and it’s just cool to be there for the kids if they need anything.”

Each year, the music for Broadway Camp changes. Each song brings a new energy and set of learning experiences to the student participants and helpers. Hannah said they songs help the participants come out of their shells.

“I love ‘Go Go Go Joesph.’ I love that song and I love the moves that Dauphne put with it,” Hannah said. “It is just a lot of high energy and I think that’s why the kids like it a lot too because they can just kind of let loose.”

Both Broadway Camp sessions this year were centered around music from The Little Mermaid, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, Jr, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. This year, the first session had longer days than the second one, but they kids still got in the same amount of work and improvement.

CampB2

Children listen to Dauphne Maloney as she instructs them on their movements for the song “Under The Sea” from The Little Mermaid.

“The first week I feel like the group was a little quieter for the whole week, not that their was anything bad about that,” Hannah said. “This group that we have this week, again not in a bad way, have been all over the place this week. Regardless. when they do perform, they all do come together really well.”

Broadway Camp allows students to explore the world of musical theatre in an environment that focuses on the many elements of performance through theatre games, dramatic play, staging and singing. It is an environment that fosters growth and artistic exploration that we hope will benefit the youth in our community in the long run.

If you would like more information about the Renaissance Education Department, please contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext 251.

paper bag puppets

3 Free Performing Arts Activities for Summer Break

by Colleen Cook

Summer break is just about here, and if you’re like most parents, you’re looking for fun activities that will challenge (and occupy) your children during their break – particularly on those rainy days. Here are three fun performing arts activities you can easily execute with minimal effort!

Make sandwich bag puppets and put on a puppet show

Once your children have created their characters, help them to create a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Encourage them to choose a main character, a problem that character has, and a friend or family member who helps them to find a solution. Then, help them write their script.

Finally put on a performance of their show on a makeshift puppet stage – this could be a table turned on its side, a tension rod with a curtain across a doorway, or something your kids can get creative with.

Create percussion instruments and create a rhythm pattern

(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)

(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)

Turn your leftover oatmeal tubs, aluminum cans, and water bottles (and more!) into percussion instruments. This project allows a ton of creativity and you can use things you would otherwise throw away. Add lentils or beans to a container and seal to make a shaker, turn a hollow container to make a drum, or tie together noisy objects (like soda or tin cans) and make a tambourine. You can leave these items as-is, or take them to the next level and decorate with glitter, paint, construction paper, markers, sequins or any other supplies you have hanging around the house.

Once you’ve created your instruments, pick a steady rhythm for each performer – these can be all the same, or each unique. We recommend picking something simple that can be tied to a word pattern. Some of our ideas include (Assuming a 4-beat pattern): “Ham-burger Ham-burger” or “Pepperoni Pepperoni Pepperoni Piz-za” or “Jelly Beans Jelly Beans.” You can use those to get started or write your own.

Creative expressive movement

Create a playlist on your favorite music app (Spotify, iTunes, Apple Radio, whatever) using a wide variety of styles. We recommend including pieces by John Williams, Camille Saint-Saens, and Eric Whitacre.

Then, collect some bouncy balls, scarves, old pantyhose or knee-highs (or anything stretchy!), ribbons, or neckties from your closets. Put on the playlist and encourage your children to move freely through the space with the only rule being to make the objects they choose look like the music they’re hearing. They can move together, or individually, to express the sounds they’re hearing.

If your space isn’t conducive to movement, you can translate this activity to have your student draw or paint what they hear or imagine from the way the music sounds, using watercolors or markers and paper.