Resources for Online: Inspired by Our Time with 'Screenwrecked'

Doing a play about getting absorbed into your cellphone, unsurprisingly, has us spending a lot of time thinking about technology! While technology can be great, it can also be overwhelming and dangerous - especially for young, developing brains. Our fabulous scriptwriter and director of Screenwrecked, Jen Slack, has graciously put together a whole host of resources and articles, and we wanted to share! We hope you find some food for thought and perhaps start a conversation with your children and family about screen use.


Articles

Resources for Filtering and/or Monitoring


Support Organizations

Relevance and Forgiveness

Last week campers were given a homework assignment on the subject of relevance. They were asked to think of a time in their lives where they a.) felt like they “mattered” or b.) felt like they didn’t “matter”. The next day we sat in a circle to discuss. Many in the group came in with stories of being bullied. Even the counselors shared times in their lives that they felt like they didn’t matter. A few in the group had positive stories: uplifting and happy accounts of times that they really felt that they mattered.  I know we all could have found positive moments to share but the majority of us had stories of friends leaving them with no where to sit during lunch in the cafeteria or being told they were not good enough to be in the school play, some of the shares untrue rumors spread and years of bullying. There were tears. I shed a few. After each person shared we would all send a hug across the circle to them, letting them know that they mattered to us.

Why are children still bullying each other? And most of the campers are at an age that online bullying has yet to begin. What happens then? We live in an online bullying culture where faceless screen names can tear apart a celebrity for holding their baby "wrong" or a restaurant for accidentally serving pancetta in their vegan fettuccine Alfredo. But what if our children are the subject of a faceless screen name rant? How do we protect them and still let them online? 

I don’t know the answer to this. I do know that we need to very closely watch the content they are looking at during screen time. We need to make sure to hug them and communicate with them and know we were them once in a less scary time; the bullies stood in our faces instead of in our screens. We need to make sure they know that they do matter and that if someone they know is being bullied that they should stand up for them. Together we are all stronger and we can make a difference in someone’s life. In a time and culture where hate is everywhere; we need to teach our children that love is the higher emotion. Love has the power to heal, and within love is forgiveness. 

At the close of our circle time I read the following poem on forgiveness. I reminded the campers that forgiveness does not mean letting people treat them badly. Bullying needs to be reported and stopped. Popular tables in the cafeteria should have been banned with the soda machines years ago. And stricter rules should be enforced by the tech giants that monitor our screens to do away with online bullying for good. Forgiveness is not about turning the other cheek. Forgiveness is a way to heal yourself, and something we humans should try more often. 

-Jen Slack-Eaton, Director of Screenwrecked

A prayer for forgiveness:

I will forgive you
The words are so small
But there is a universe hidden in them
When I forgive you
All of those cords of resentment pain and sadness that had wrapped
Themselves around my heart will be gone
When I forgive you
You will no longer define me
You measured me and assessed me and
Decided that you could hurt me
I didn’t count
But I will forgive you
Because I do count
I do matter
I am bigger than the image you have of me
I am stronger
I am more beautiful
And I am infinitely more precious than you thought me
I will forgive you
My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you
When I forgive you
My forgiveness will be a gift that gives itself to me

(Tutu, Desmond and Tutu, Mpho. (2014) The Book of Forgiving. New York, New York: Harper One.)

Cast members of  Screenwrecked

Cast members of Screenwrecked




Are You Screenwrecked?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (2010), kids between age 8 and 18 spend a whopping 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen - computer, television or other electronic device. That time estimate does not include the additional 1.5 hours kids spend texting or the half hour that they talk on their cell phones. That's the majority of a kid’s waking life; “in fact that's more time than they spend sleeping” (Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.).

Research for the play "Screenwrecked" was at times shocking. The average age a child is handed a screen for the first time is four months of age. WHAT? Before our children are normally allowed to have their first tip of the tongue, deliciously shocking bite of sugar, which usually takes place around a first birthday, children are handed little glowing electronic "candy" tablets. I am a mother of four, and I struggle with screen use with each of my children on a very regular basis. I am more than partly to blame for this. In times of being an overwhelmed tired mama, I would hand out screens as a distraction, or a tool for calming a tantrum, and sometimes even as a bribery technique. For all of this, I am truly sorry, deep apologies to all of my children, because most of the time handing one of my kids a screen just felt like the easy way out. A quick fix to what is now a lasting problem... Now my kids are like little addicts frequently searching out their next screen fix. And don't even get me started on my own (personal) excessive screen use. I have certainly not been the ideal model of limited screen behavior. There have been many times, as a mom, that I have searched  for my screen during important parenting moments. I guess as a distraction from parenting. I often find myself phone in hand scrolling through a depressing news feed, filling my Amazon cart, or checking the weather for the next two months. None of it necessary. Instead I could have been making eye contact with my child. I could have been actively listening to what they were saying. 

"Mom, can I use your phone?" is a question I hear most afternoons at my house. And often my answer is "No, I'm using it." But what if I wasn't? 

For the two weeks of camp, the campers and also their families (including my family) are being asked to go on a screen diet. Campers will be handed journals on the first day of camp so that as an ensemble we can keep track of our own thoughts/feelings about life without screens. As we dig into the rehearsal process of "Screenwrecked: Trapped in an Electronic Mobile Device", I want to let each of the actors/campers use the creative experience of life without screens to inform their characters and thoughts on the play and also their performances at the end of the two weeks.

I really wanted to write the play from the perspective of how kids feel about screens and not how adults feel their kids should feel about screens. Wendy and I were really lucky to get to join a sixth grade acting class at Waynflete School last spring. We did some theater games with the class but also had a very honest conversation sitting in a small circle before the bell rang ending our time together. There was a common theme for the acting students and their screens: they wanted to be relevant. Relevant. The definition of relevant is "closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered." This made me wonder, how much of our society is seeking to be relevant with their screen use? How much of our world is searching for connection through technology? And sadly how much of our children's childhood experience is being lost in screens? How many of us are also screenwrecked?

- Jennifer Slack-Eaton, Director of Screenwrecked

Screenwrecked is a two week production camp that will culminate in a weekend of performances, August 9 - 11. Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2:00. $10.00 admission.

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An Interview with 'Sally Butts' Director Josie Adolf

Josie Adolf Giving Notes to her “Sally Butts for President” Cast

Josie Adolf Giving Notes to her “Sally Butts for President” Cast

We had a chance to sit down and chat with summer camp teacher and “Sally Butts for President” director extraordinaire, Josie Adolf! We’ve known Josie for a long time - and are so excited to see her first directing premiere - but it’s always fun to learn a little more about the people you love! So enjoy!


Theater Project: How is your summer going?

Josie: My summer has been great! A little bit of traveling (to DC with some friends), a lot of work, and a lot of relaxing - it’s finally ~actual~ summer in Maine!

Theater Project: How long have you been at The Theater Project?

Josie: I’ve been at the theater for 12 years now. I started in the 6-8 year old camp when I was 7, and this year I’m teaching it! Ahhh!!

Theater Project: Your Dad wrote Sally Butts for President, as well as Mother’s Helper, and I Cannot Tell A Lie at George Washington School.  How does it feel to be directing one of his shows?

Josie: It’s great! It’s interesting because I know the personal inspiration behind some characters and scenes (for example, I was the inspiration of the scene in George Washington where the dad showed the kid too much ultimate fighting!). It’s also nice because my dad gets to see the behind-the-scenes of the show being made, and he’s always excited that it’s actually becoming a reality.

Theater Project: Has the Theater Project helped to prepare you for college?

 Josie: Absolutely. The Theater Project taught me so many lessons about respecting others and yourself, work ethic, and responsibility. I remember starting to help with summer camps and realizing what a demon I was to teach! But that’s all part of the learning process. Over time, by helping in whatever capacity I was able to, I slowly learned how to handle challenges and solve problems (which are ALWAYS different each year). Last of all, the people impacted me! Learning from Wendy, Karin, Amanda, Jen, Meghan, Al, and so many other people who have spent their time teaching me whatever new job I was attempting has made me a real person, and I can’t thank them enough for that! Also, knowing how to embrace an embarrassing situation has helped a bit. :)

Theater Project: Do you have a favorite TTP summer camp memory?

Josie: My favorite TTP camp memory was being a drunk cat in Stewart Little. It was weird and unexpected and got me hooked on this place. And stone lions obviously!

Theater Project: Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

 Josie: Chocolate!

Theater Project: Favorite thing to do when not teaching?

 Josie: Playing bass.

Theater Project: Are you reading anything right now?

Josie: We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra.

Theater Project: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Josie: I matched head to toe with one of the 7 year olds I was teaching last week, and that made me laugh pretty hard. Kid’s got style!

Theater Project: Favorite show you’ve seen at TTP?

Josie: My favorite show I’ve ever seen here was Voices! I think it was the 2014 show when I was in eighth grade, before I was able to be a part of it! The year with the skit about the parents trying to figure out what BRB and LOL meant. That show made me cry because I was laughing so hard!

Theater Project: Do you prefer to be on stage or backstage?

Josie: Backstage, no question. I enjoy acting, but I love the organization of stage managing and the ridiculous things I get to do when I’m helping backstage or teaching! Plus, I love watching a show over and over again - you learn more every time. I actually passed my AP Lit exam after stage managing Dorian Gray— since I saw the show every night and worked on it for months, I had enough material to write a pretty solid essay about it! I love being backstage!!


Don’t miss “Sally Butts for President” onstage now at The Theater Project!

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Summer Off and Running!

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The summer is off and running. Out first camp, The Wizarding Contest, finished up last Friday, and all 20 kids had a great time casting spells and making magic! After the fourth of July, Sally Butts for President begins – this is the first of our original plays for 9 – 12 year olds. Written by Jim Adolf, this hilarious play centers around kids with unfortunate last names and can they come together to elect Sally Butts to class president. The campers will work together for two weeks and at the end perform it for the public three times. Then it’s on to Zombie camp for the 6 – 8 year olds. Are these good Zombies? How did they become Zombies and what do they want?! Wrapping up our summer camps is Screenwrecked: Trapped in a Hand Help Device written by Jen Slack-Eaton. Be careful about what you wish for because you may end up in your IPad forever!

With the beautiful weather starting to appear I am making sure the A/C works and that the kids have a great summer experience at The Theater Project. Come see one of the shows at The Theater Project or…we also have…

A Midsummer Night's Dream on the gazebo, 6:30 PM, July 12 - 14 and 19 - 21.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair and a snack.
No entrance fee; we pass the hat after the show.
Running time: an hour and a half, no intermission.

Wendy Poole, Executive Director

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Alumni!

Hello Theater Project Fans/Parents/Alumni!

Summer is a weird time for us, a transition period.  The building is full, nearly everyday, of kids and of energy.  This energy will subside for the next few weeks, until our 2018-2019 Season begins.  It’s always exciting, and a little sad, as we move forward to the next season and say goodbye to the new round of alumni.

One reason for our success each year is the support of alumni.  You send your kids to take camps and classes, you donate what you can when you can, and most importantly, you come back to see our shows each year.  So THANK YOU, for all of that!

Right now, we have a couple of exciting things going on, specifically for alumni but really, for anyone:

1:  The McGuires are performing an improv show on Saturday, August 18th.  Their opening act will be The Adolfs. So that’s TWO Theater Project Families, on stage, for one night only.  It will be a great night, so please consider being there!

2:  Alumni T-Shirts.  At the last show of Voices this past season, director Karin Baard presented the graduating seniors with Alumni shirts.  This “ceremony” will be repeated year after year now… but if you are an alumni, you can buy a t-shirt with your year on it!  These were designed by Sean McGuire (of the aforementioned McGuires), and can be customized with your year. Please shoot us an email or Facebook message if you’re interested in one of these.  They will be 25$ and we are waiting for a few more interested parties before ordering…

 

Thank you for being with us this summer, and please keep an eye out for our Season Announcement coming soon!

 

Amanda DeHahn

Program Manager

Summer Camps are Underway!

The temperatures and humidity are here, our 46th season has ended with another rip-roaring production of Voices in the Mirror, and that means ... summer camps! 

Summer camps are one of my favorite times of the year (but when you work at The Theater Project, what time of year isn't your favorite time of year?). But camps are special; spending most of your day in the theater, producing shows in only two weeks, LOTS of theater (and other) games - Stone Lions, anyone? Always my fav. - and more. 

Our summer camp season kicked off last week with "Mystery Solvers Agency" - our first camp for 6 - 8 year olds. My rocking co-teachers and I had an energetic group of 22 kids who were more than ready to explore the theater, solve mysteries, and develop some foundational theater skills. We solved mysteries like what my favorite animal is (raccoon) and how old Maggie is (16 - though we had some great guesses from 8 to 43). Throughout the week we worked on using our bodies (no words!) to express something to the audience - either a gesture, emotion, picture, anything our imaginations could come up with - as well as working together as a team to create an original story. 

We talked about our primary ground rule "respect" - respecting each other, teachers and campers alike, respecting the building, and one suggestion from a camper that I've never heard before but I LOVE: respecting the audience. We talked about how respecting the audience meant not goofing off during a performance and giving the best performance you can because they've come to see a great show and when we goof off and ruin the magical illusion of theater that can be disrespectful to our audience. Isn't that great? One of the best things about working with children is when we learn new things. 

And of course, summer camps give us adults and teachers a time and place to let our imaginations loose a little bit and get into the spirit of the season. Like below, where we teachers couldn't help but put some costumes on (it looked like too much fun!).

Happy summer everyone! 

Karin

 

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An Adventure for All...

"The Hobbit" is our first of two production camps to be held this summer.  

What goes into a production camp? Two weeks of hard work, exploration, and natural comedic genius.  The campers adventure with their director to learn a script and develop characters.  They're introduced to props, costumes, lights, and sound.  All of these things combine into a performance just like the Professional shows we produce.

Director Robbie Harrison has big plans for the campers:

“The Hobbit” camp is approaching, and all adventurous souls are invited to hit the stage and make this story come alive. As director, I’m learning the script and dreaming up structures, characters, and theatrical beats that can breathe fire into this epic play. What you can look forward to: being goofy, befriending a dragon, and re-creating this classic story for your friends and family."

This show is produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY of Woodstock, Illinois.

If you're interested in seeing this show, tickets can be bought through our website, or by calling the box office at 729-8584.

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On Friendship, Clowning and Waiting for Godot

Nat Warren-White is a longtime friend of The Theater Project - he was here at the very beginning, in fact! Here he shares some thoughts on getting together with old friends to put on a theater classic....

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Ahhhhhhh, the "early days" days in South Paris were magical! Tony Montanaro was a brilliant teacher with a magician's touch and we were all his "kids". I met Al around the same time in the early 70's. He'd created the YPT (Young People's Theater) just before I moved back to Maine and we became good friends and clowning partners. I was fortunate to be included in the YPT merry band of roaming thespians directing a number of shows, touring in the van from one end of Maine to the other and loving every minute of it.

Eventually Al, Christine Cantwell, and I formed a trio of clowns (*CLOWNS*) and we toured Maine schools together having a ball entertaining kids and leading workshops with adults and children alike.

Al & I attended one of Tony's summer intensive mime workshops bunking at the Celebration Barn, eating locally grown food, lolling about in the fields, and falling in love with the crew of itinerant fools who'd migrated to South Paris under Tony's loving touch. I eventually joined Tony's production of "Pinocchio" which toured the east coast from New Orleans to New Jersey in an old blue Ford station wagon. A year or two later a couple of spots opened-up in the Celebration Mime Ensemble and I was lucky enough to be assigned a green unitard and romp with Tony's larger troupe of happy players. Fateh Azzam (then known only as "Victor") was already a member of "the company" and we became good pals, haunting Minnie's Bar-B-Q in Market Square, South Paris when while living in town and rehearsing at The Barn. Minnie was our god-mother and Tony was our later god-father. It was a creative and joyous time and we developed some wonderful material and lasting friendships under Tony's deft direction.

About the same time I met Fateh I also met Elizabeth Warren (no not the senator but the amazing early childhood teacher) when our clown troupe performed at her school in Harpswell. We got married in 1977 and shortly thereafter took a hands-on building class at the Shelter Institute in Woolwich. Christopher Price was our inspired teacher there and quickly became our good friend too. We never built our dream home but did manage to shanghai Chris into becoming an actor at the Summer Theater Project which was formed under Al's fearless leadership in the Brunswick U-U church in the late 70's. Several of the old Celebration folks joined us for those early hot and crazy summers and the circle closed. In the years since Al, Chris, Fateh and I have stayed in-touch and occasionally found time to work and play together in various theatrical endeavors....but never all together in one place or the same piece. We've all dreamed about and plotted to revisit GODOT after each of us had discovered it earlier in our lives. Now we are the right age to understand it in the way Beckett intended it (if we can only remember the words!)

Thanks to Al's vision and Davis Robinson's (another ex-Celebration bandit) insightful and empathic direction, we've all found our way together again 40 years later at the Theater Project....amazing, scary, thrilling, humbling.

Thank you Al and thank you David, Fateh, Chris, Nick (our "Boy") and, of course, Sammy B!

Love, GoGo