The SCT Impact – Blair DeMauro

Earlier this year we reached out to a few dozen SCT alumni to ask them if they felt their time at Savannah Children’s Theatre had any long-term impact on their lives, their friendships, or their careers.  Of course, theatre kids (even grown-up ones) have a flair for the dramatic, so our former students couldn’t respond with a simple thumbs-up or note of thanks.  They wrote essays, letters, and made us tear up on more than one occasion.

One of those occasions was the message we received from Blair.  A self-proclaimed “shy child,” she has gone on to study baking and pastries, graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.  Back home in Savannah, she now works at Chocolat by Adam Turoni, working right alongside one of the top 10 chocolatiers in the country.  Here is what this now-bold and outspoken pastry chef has to say about the SCT Impact.

~~~

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SCT Dance Recital, 2011

As any 12-year-old girl may have dreams of Broadway lights, I walked into Savannah Children’s Theatre sharing those same dreams.  Now my path has changed, and my career as well, but my childhood wearing silly costumes and whispering backstage was not wasted.  Having a childhood surrounded by theatre and dance has made all the difference in my life today.  One must be confident on stage, and having been a shy child, “confident” and “courageous” were hardly words familiar to me.  I never would have had the courage to walk into my job interviews with intimidating typical French chefs, and believe that I could do the job at hand.

 

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Still dancing, this time in a kitchen!

I truly believe working and managing a kitchen is almost paralleled to a stage production. There is a “backstage” that is the kitchen, and there is organized chaos dancing throughout the work stations, taking chefs by surprise, throwing curves every which way.  It’s all about timing; almost as a missed light cue leaves your audience lost in the dark, a missed plating could leave your guests hungry.  The team in a kitchen is much like a cast and crew all working toward one “show,” and flawlessly getting to this goal no matter what it takes.  All the while, the audience never sees nor hears the chaos, only the polished finale.

Aside from having a plethora of bobby pins, knowing how to change my entire wardrobe in less than 30 seconds, developing a love of literature, amazing posture, great diction and some timeless dance moves, theatre and dance have helped me grow life skills.  When on stage one must have excellent decision-making and rapid problem-solving skills; improvisation is no stranger to my daily life.  When in a production one must work as a team to be successful; teamwork is relevant in my daily life.  I truly loved all the memories, friends and family that I have been so fortunate to encounter in my days at Savannah Children’s Theatre!  SCT was a wonderful part of my life and I never forget it!

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The SCT Impact – Stanley

Since 2004, SCT has provided performing arts education and opportunities to
Savannah’s youth.  Now in our 13th season, we are beginning to see the long-term results of growing up in an environment that aims to inspire, educate, and entertain; something we like to call the SCT Impact. This series will include words from SCT Alumni who feel that their time spent within our walls has had a positive, tangible influence on their lives, both on and off the stage.

stanley-simons-headshot   There is no one more fitting to launch this series than the amazing Stanley Simons.  Stanley first came to us under the impression that he was auditioning for a Shakespearian tragedy, only to find out that he had the wrong date and tried out for another show instead.  Too polite to leave in the middle of something, Stanley stayed, and found himself fitted for a bright pink pig-suit, complete with curly tail. (We’ve scoured the world for pictures, but he seems to have done a great job of destroying all evidence of this first amazing costume.) Over the years, Stanley became an invaluable member of SCT, performing on stage countless times, and working constantly behind the scenes. Now a small business owner, Stanley agreed to share a bit of his story, in hopes that it will encourage others to make bold choices!

      “I remember walking into the doors of SCT. I was about to audition for Romeo and Juliet (excited and nervous).  I was wrong.  The audition was actually for Charlotte’s Web.  Nevertheless, I put on my big boy pants, auditioned, and got a part.  However, it wasn’t just another play for me.

     This play, unlike all the others, was at a community theatre.  It was a real show.  A show where you met a new director for the first time;  that director puts a book in your hand filled with beautiful words written by someone else;  that director wants you to make a bold choice at a particular time to explain why you decided to use those beautiful words; that director wants you to explain why your body had to move to a place underneath the lights where it was marked weeks ago.

     Eleven years later a bold choice continues to move me.  Past community theatre.  Past student films.  Past short films.  Past state lines to New York City.  Past the front doors at a performing arts conservatory.  Past the president of that conservatory as I reach for my degree.  Past the long lines to the next audition.  All a bold choice.  The greatest thing I learned at SCT is that choices can take you anywhere.  Bold choices will take you where you’re suppose to be.

stanely-simons-at-work

New Heights! by Jenn Doubleday

     I’ve always wanted to be in the circus.greensilks

     Coming from a carnie family, the desire to run away with a caravan runs deep.  Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade my SCT family and the life it has allowed me to lead for anything.  Buuuuuut if some sort of Quantum Leap happened and I got to live in a tiny trailer next to a trick seal, I wouldn’t complain.

     Which is why, in my spare time, I have frequently devoted myself to learning some sort of carnie sport.  I watched jugglers, bought scarves, and tried teaching myself. Not good.  I watched unicyclists, got a unicycle, and tried teaching myself. Really not good.  I’m not too bad at tightrope, and while I’ve never had a tiger to train, I think I’d manage. When aerial dance came on the scene, I knew I wanted to try that, too.

     A relatively new art form, aerial dance (sometimes referred to as aerial tissu or aerial silks) is a form of movement that involves climbing and posing your body on fabric that is suspended from the ceiling.  It was developed by Montreal’s peerless Cirque du Soleil in the mid-nineties as a means of exploring dance and contortion without the limitation of gravity.

     The first opportunity I had to play with them was at SETC in Chattanooga, TN.  Not being known for my patience, I immediately spoke with the director about taking lessons and asked her how she got her start.  Her answer?  “I saw them in the circus, so I bought some fabric and taught myself.”  We got along pretty well.

Aerial Silks

First lesson back in the day! Whee!

     Last year, when we were choosing our 2013-2014 season, our Artistic Director had only one criteria for each show.  Every production had to include some element that we, as a theatre, had never used before.  After settling on Tarzan and Shrek as our Main Stage shows, we decided to make Tarzan vertical.  Utilizing the silks as vines and climbing nets as the jungle canopy, we took our show to new heights, and I fell in love with the aerial arts all over again.     tarzan1  jenntarzan

     Less than a year later, our new aerial program has grown beyond our expectations!  We have a Friday class that, truthfully, is the highlight of my week, and I have many students of all ages (10 to 55) who take private lessons.  Soon, we hope to get a lyra (aerial hoop) as well!

     So what kind of person does aerial arts?  Anyone.  My group class (ages 10-18) includes a 5th-grade gymnast and an 11th-grade baritone.  In my private lessons I have taught a massage therapist, a news anchor, and a fitness instructor, among others.  The one thing all of these people have in common is their desire to experience something new.

annasilks1  weeksonsilks1

     Of course, like any physical activity, there are some requirements.  The rig does have a weight limit, and since you are binding your body with fabric you want to make sure you are in good health, with no prone to dizziness, circulatory disorders or severe skin conditions.  A fear of heights could be a potential setback, but as these things go, our rig is pretty low with a maximum ceiling height of fifteen feet.

   This year, we’ll be using our silks in two different dance shows.  The first is the student-choreographed Jack and the Beanstalk in February, and the second is our annual dance showcase in May.  The theme for 2015 is Dance Around the World, featuring dance styles from all over the globe.

   Never has Canada been so cool.

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                                            Anna Smith & Matthew Weeks, SCT Aerial Students

Calling All Bunburyists, by Bailey Keith

     I’m going to go ahead and boldly state that The Importance of Being Earnest is the funniest show I have been in to date.  Not only is the show itself hilarious, but as a cast we have blast. (Rhyme quite possibly intentional.)  The play, by the legendary Oscar Wilde, is a satire on the social expectations of young adults in the Victorian era.  My favorite thing about the show is its power to transform a situation so gravely serious to the characters into something incredibly silly to the audience.  

     That is an attribute that I believe adequately reflects one of my favorite things about Savannah Children’s Theatre; the encouragement we get to be as silly as possible.  SCT is a place where children and adults alike can leave behind any pressures to be “normal,” because really, normal can get quite boring.  Savannah Children’s Theatre calls to Bunburyists of all shapes and sizes.  Don’t know what a Bunburyist is?  Come see Earnest March 21st-30th and find out!  (See what I did there?)

     Alright, I’ll give you some clues. You might be a Bunburyist if..

…you have make-believe relatives or friends. (Imaginary friends can always be trusted.)

…you’ve made up an alias for yourself. (Just in case.)

…your origin is a terminus. (Or your background is unusual.)

…you have an ‘irresistible fascination’ with glitter. (Our floor is covered in it.)

…you like to be immensely overdressed. (This could qualify as anyone who likes to play dress-up or occasionally wear ridiculous hats.)

The cast of "The Importance of Being Earnest," being quite, quite earnest.

The cast of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” being quite, quite earnest.

     If you, or someone you know, fits any of the above, we want you to know just one thing.

     WE THINK YOU’RE AWESOME.

     Savannah Children’s Theatre serves as a constant reminder of the importance of being you.   In addition to performance skills, SCT teaches us that being silly is okay, and being weird is just fine, and wearing 3-piece suits for no reason is kinda cool.  It doesn’t matter if you like bread and butter or teacake because variety is good.

   The word “earnest” means “sincere, heartfelt, and impassioned.”  I earnestly hope that you’ll buy a ticket to our little comedy, and that you’ll smile so broadly and laugh so loudly that you’ll text your friends to come see it with you a second time.  And I earnestly want you to come back and sign up for summer camp, or classes, or audition for a show.  Because no matter your baggage – small or large, with handles or without – SCT welcomes you.