Tellin’ Ain’t Teachin’

Think back to your favorite teachers.  Were they teachers who sat at their desk and had you read while they nodded their head and hoped you were understanding?  Were they teachers who stood in front of a chalkboard and just read from a book while you looked dazed and confused?  Or were they one’s who gave you information and then began to story-tell in different ways such as having you create a play based on a topic, or took you to a museum to explain great art?  Most likely it is the latter.  I am positive not all teachers want to be just a talking head, they want to be memorable so you learn!  However, teachers often need to learn themselves in order to not just be a talking head, and that is why programs like the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Arts Integration Institute are so important.

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Assistant Directing Newsies

By Nik Demers

I have loved Theatre as far back as I can remember. Whether it’s acting, designing, building sets, stage managing, etc., I love getting to see a show come together from the ground up. Seeing live theatre was what sparked that love for me when I was a little kid, and the first shows I ever saw were right here at The Renaissance Theatre. Despite coming to see many shows over the years, Newsies is the first production I have gotten involved with and I’m so glad that I finally did. It is home to a wonderful and incredibly talented group of people that we are so lucky to have in our community.

The Newsies set

The Newsies set

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Secrets of the Costume Closet

“Clothes Make a Statement, Costumes Tell a Story”

At the Renaissance Theatre, we take great pride in the beautiful costuming being presented onstage each show. But where do these costumes come from and who’s behind the magic of creation?
Many costumes at the Renaissance Theatre are made by our very own staff! For example, the fabulous Ursula costume featured in last year’s production of “The Little Mermaid” was made by our Teaching Artist and Education Assistant at the Renaissance, Dauphne Maloney.

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The Dish on Cujo

I love dogs.  No – let me rephrase: I LOVE DOGS!!  To me, they are the best companions.  They are loyal, they have wicked senses of humor, they are great listeners…and they offer a protection that is very comforting.

However, few things in life are worse than a dog gone bad.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, there is a very poignant scene in which Atticus kills a rabid dog that has come into town. Every time I read or see that scene I want to cry because I bet that dog was a good dog at one time. Maybe even had a human companion that loved it very much.

Cujo on the other hand…well, this dog is just downright terrifying in the way that only the great master, Stephen King, can create.  It is not my favorite story or even movie of King’s, but with it coming to the Renaissance on July 19th, I wanted to see if there were any facts about it that might draw me in.  I certainly did find some!  Keep reading to learn some very interesting things about everyone’s most frightening beast.

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How to Win an Audition

With auditions for Annie coming up in September, and then Mamma Mia in January, now is the time to make a serious beginning to preparations in order to win the audition!  If you are a follower of this blog, three weeks ago in a blog titled “Mistakes and the Art of Perfection” I mentioned a mantra that has always helped me get to the best of my abilities: “It is a question of time, patience and intelligent work”.  For auditions, all three do apply, but I truly believe, based on personal experience, that intelligent work will help you win that audition.

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A Murder in Mansfield

This week at the Renaissance, we will be holding a special hometown screening of the documentary film A Murder in Mansfield, which focuses on the 1990 locally infamous murder of Noreen Boyle by her husband, Dr. John Boyle.  We have sold over 1500 tickets to this event so far, which shows the tremendous impression this tragedy left on our community.

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What I Know About Cars

In honor of our Rock ‘n’ Roll Car Festival that is coming up on June 23rd, I thought I would share my vast knowledge about cars.  Now before you get too excited, let me be the first to say that I have never changed a tire, nor even my own oil, but, hey!, I have been driving for a long time and with a really clean record.  Not convinced?  Well, keep reading and then you can be the judge.

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Mistakes and the Expectation of Perfection

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Many moons ago, I was the flute instructor at the Cazadero Performing Arts camp in Northern California for seven summers.  One summer evening, a wind trio from the San Francisco Symphony came and performed at the camp.  After a delightful set, the musicians of the trio stayed on stage and opened up for a Q & A.  After a number of questions like “How did you get so good?” and “Is this your day job?” were asked, one young student inquired “Do you ever make a mistake?”  The clarinetist of the group said frankly “All of the time.”  He went on to explain by describing a recent recording session of one of the San Francisco Symphony’s Mahler recordings.  There was a small section of just a few measures that were just “not right”.  So, after the whole set was done, the musicians went back into the studio and re-recorded the measures for an hour to make it sound perfect on the finished album.

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Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography, 2018

Why the Arts Matter

by Colleen Cook

As a graduate student studying arts administration, one of my professors posed a question that has stuck with me ever since:

“Why do the arts matter?”

The professor argued that, if we couldn’t answer that question, we should change our degree track. Every day of our professional life, we’d be answering that question in one way or another, whether we were seeking funding for a program, trying to sell a ticket to a show, or simply sacrificing higher pay in Corporate America for a meager non-profit salary. Yet, despite the fact that everyone in the room had been engaged with the arts for decades, the question is not exactly an easy one to answer.

Many of the students began to answer by sharing our own experiences with the arts. The spoke of high school musicals, favorite pieces, art shows, and friendships formed as a result of creating art together. Nearly every person shared a memory of a relationship formed through the creation or experience of art.

As we drilled down beyond “why do the arts matter to me?” the conversation turned to, “why should the arts matter to anyone else?” The conversation revolved around the economic benefits of the presence of arts in a community, what the arts can do to support education, healthcare, tourism, and business.  Every one of those conversations felt like it gave greater weight to the conversation, however, it still seemed incomplete.

Here’s why I believe the arts matter:

The arts are unique in their ability to put us in touch with our own humanity, and the humanity of others. Because the arts communicate through story, and the human brain is hardwired for story, we are able to learn and grow when we experience art – be it visual, dance, music, theatre, or writing. The arts have the power to change what we think, how we feel, and lend us a perspective outside of our own paradigm.

When we experience these paradigm shifts, we applaud it and we eagerly share that experience with those we love. (“You have to read this book/see this movie/get tickets to this play!”) The arts offer us a point of connection to those around us, a sense of belonging, and a deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. In a divided world, the arts knit us back together.

That’s something worth sacrificing for, worth tirelessly working towards, worth investing in.