Heartwood’s seventh annual winter middle school production is well underway, as 25 Midcoast youths - grades 3-8 - prepare to present the Japanese Noh theater tale, “Firebird,” along with three more short, stylized Japanese pieces.
This top notch ensemble of committed students auditioned and were cast into roles in early December. As school resumed in January, they dove into four weeks of focused and intensive rehearsals, which will culminate in school-day and evening public performances in the Poe Theater, at Lincoln Academy.
Three school performances will be filled with students and teachers from numerous Midcoast schools on Jan. 30 and 31. Each year, many students arrive as first time audience, with no idea what to expect inside a theater; returning students enter with an air of expectation and excitement, recounting memories from last year’s production. Together, they share in the special thrill, when the lights go down and the magic of live theater begins.
This year, audiences will enjoy a mix of fantastical characters, comic types and serious roles, along with storytellers and musicians – a full theatrical experience with lights, set and costumes – and an interesting slice of theater and world history.
Heidi Kopishke assists Director Griff Braley with casting, managing students and costuming (this has been an interesting and fun show to costume). The set is very stylized and unusual, for the Poe Theater. Throughout the rehearsal process, students are learning about Japanese theater traditions (Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku) and their impact on the long history of acting.
“What student isn’t excited, to present their work to peers and teachers, in the setting of a real theater?! It’s an annual opportunity to do much more than memorize lines and say them at the right moment; they learn and rehearse and hone their skills with students from several Midcoast schools, forging friendships with students who share a love for theater,” noted Heartwood’s Executive Director Joy Braley. “Performing beyond the classroom, in a theater with quality technical elements – lighting, costumes, sets and sound - is a privilege many Maine students will not encounter, at this age. They learn theater protocol, the importance of ensemble and the joy of accomplishing a corporate goal, together.”
“This group is a joy to work with,” beamed Director Griff Braley. “They arrived memorized and ready to dig into a month of deep learning and dedication to the material, to one another, to a group goal larger than themselves. Their skills and confidence grow each year, and we are seeing students enter the high school level with experience and a solid understanding of theater protocol and expectations. As a result, we can move on together, creating much stronger work at a high school level.”
Three public performances are scheduled in the Poe Theater at Lincoln Academy: Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5/students and $10/adults. Reservations available by contacting Heartwood: 563-1373 / firstname.lastname@example.org /www.heartwoodtheater.org. Student tickets are guaranteed at $5 for every show this season, by sponsors Peapod Jewelry and First National Wealth Management.
This program is made possible, in part, by Heartwood’s season sponsors, Bath Savings Institution and Granite Hall Estates, Season Youth Sponsors, HM Payson and Damariscotta Hardware, and show sponsors, Chesterfield Associates.