Afterschool Theatre Program Comes Alive!

First published 10/4/2012 in the Fargo Public School’s electronic newsletter,
The Journey
Written by Tim Morrissey

Two groups of Kennedy Elementary students are getting ready to debut the latest performing arts programming in the Fargo Public Schools, thanks to a building-level partnership with Trollwood Performing Arts School.

group of students in theatre rehearsal

TCT Director Joan Degerness works with Kennedy students to stage “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids.”

On October 12 and 13, two groups of students enrolled in the first-ever Trollwood Children’s Theatre (TCT) afterschool program will take to the stage to perform Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids. The programs, which took shape last spring, are created for students in grades K-2 and grades 3-5. The activities are taught and coached by theatre and elementary education professionals, designed to expose students to the world of theatre performance and production.

Students in the grade 3-5 program have been immersed in the activity’s creative process since September 18, and have become cast and crew for their production. In the K-2 program, held the week leading up to the performances, professionals engage those students in introductory theatre games, voice instruction, and movement. The K-2 program concludes with public pre-show performances prior to the Disney production.

TCT has been in the works for a year, and on the radar even longer. It is the brainchild of TPAS Executive Director Kathy Anderson and Moorhead music educator Joan Degerness. The two wanted to create a program for kids that could literally be delivered to schools, unpacked and bolted together. Funding for Trollwood to design and implement TCT – approximately $7,000 in start-up costs – finally became available in 2012, in part due to grant funds awarded by The Arts Partnership.

TCT is designed as a turnkey program, in a way that participating schools can cover costs through their own means: registration fees, ticket sales, Parent-Teacher Associations, or other sources.

In the spring, the concept was introduced to Fargo elementary principals. Kennedy Principal Jerry Hanson became the first to request it, with support from his school’s PTA. Following the finish of the Trollwood summer musical in August, Anderson, Degerness, and TPAS Program Coordinator Nancy Glaser set about organizing teams to build and create Kennedy’s program so that it would be ready to launch in September. Many of the people on the teams include Trollwood alumni.

Kennedy students will showcase the inaugural production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids on the auditorium main stage at Discovery Middle School on Friday, Oct. 12 (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 13 (2:00 p.m.). Tickets for the shows can be purchased at the Kennedy office or at the door. Tickets are $5.00 (adults) and $3.00 (students). Age 5 & under are free.

After the curtain closes, Glaser and Anderson will review the Kennedy program and plan for future sessions of TCT. Their vision is to continue developing teams and productions to be available in partnerships with other school districts in the region.

In the meantime, the Kennedy students are right where they want to be…in the spotlight.

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