Archive for July, 2012

Finding Life Lessons in Art

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Behind the Scenes Goes to Imagination Stage Where New Show Offers Great Life Lessons

There’s good enchantment and bad enchantment and Imagination Stage’s new production of The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe (LWW) has them both. Imagination Stage, teaming up with The Washington Ballet, has created a bewitching interpretation of this epic tale that is easily accessible to young children.  Parents and children will love the delightful set, the incredible dancing and this enthralling story performed by a talented cast of actors. Click here to see a short video about the show.

As a mother, what really commands my interest now are the big life lessons in this show. You can’t tell your child a life lesson; he won’t listen. But you can slip it in, like spinach in a brownie, using stories.  In LWW there are some wonderful character building and life lessons. Here’s the biggie for me: No matter how bad your offense may be, your family will always love you.

My son is moving into middle school and you know what they say—little people, little problems; big people, big problems. My son has a solid moral compass, but middle school will challenge him and our family, I’m sure. When that happens, I want him to know that his dad and I will always be there for him: to support him as he struggles to deal with tween issues, to help him make the right choices, and to deal with the consequences when he makes the wrong choices.

LWW is all about choices and temptations. LWW relates the adventures of the four Pevensie children in the magical land of Narnia which is under enchantment by the evil White Witch. Author C. S. Lewis often referred to LWW as a “fairy tale.” This might seem odd if you think fairy tales are fluff. But, if we dig past the Disney whitewashing of stories like “Cinderella,” we find in fairy tales what renowned child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim called deeper magic. I call it life lessons material.

In his wonderful book, The Uses of Enchantment, Bettelheim writes that fairy tales demonstrate to children that severe difficulties in life are unavoidable but if one meets the challenges presented, one will emerge victorious at the end. (Major life lesson here!) Bettelheim also tells us that children develop a moral conscious by identifying with the hero as they struggle against evil. So, it’s not just Cinderella’s goodness and physical beauty that are important. It’s her continued acts of goodness in the face of extreme hardship that lead her to triumph in the end. That’s the message in the old fairy tales.

Because I have a son, I looked for fairy tales about boys. Eventually, we moved to what I call modern fairy tales: LWW and the Harry Potter stories. Both feature a boy struggling against external and internal evils on his journey to becoming a man, a good, moral and just man.

In LWW, the character of eight year-old Edmund is a selfish brat. He’s been displaced as the family baby by the adorable Lucy. He has two bossy older siblings, Peter and Susan. All around him is the chaos of WWII. While the other children bravely contend with the chaos, Edmund is anxious and feels he doesn’t belong.  Since a child can’t say this in words, Edmund acts out and tells lies. These dark and confused feelings are beautifully expressed in two very powerful scenes featuring Rafael Cuesta, the actor that plays Edmund, and Daniel Savetta, Edmund’s dancer-self.

Ultimately, these dark feelings weaken Edmund. When the White Witch offers him a delectable candy, a box of Turkish delight, Edmund does what every parent fears: he eats candy—enchanted candy—from a stranger. After that, Edmund’s easy pickings for the White Witch and he does the unthinkable: he betrays his family in order to become a king. Click on the camera icon for short video about Edmund’s Story of Treachery and Turkish Delight.

Children (and adults) can identify with Edmund. We’ve all been on that fast train to self destruction at one time or another.  That’s partly what makes this story so powerful. Edmund’s sins are great. He must take responsibility for his mistakes and make amends. These struggles lead to maturity. Happily, when he does ask for forgiveness, Edmund’s siblings and the parental figure of Aslan, ruler of Narnia, welcome him back into the fold. Love is the ancient magic that underpins the story, while growth and character development drive the plot.

But, less I make this production sound boring and morally officious, let me give you this assurance:  your child will be so enchanted with LWW that he’ll NEVER know this is a parentally-approved life lesson and character building exercise. Nope. He’ll just be having fun and so will you.

After the show, chat with your child about the meaning(s) of the story. What it meant to him. What it mean to you. Then, let it percolate. Amazing things grow in the fertile minds of children where enchantment and magic are ever present.

The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe will be at Imagination Stage (Bethesda) until August 12. Suitable for ages 5 and up. Click here for ticket information.

FY12 Mini Retrospective

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Each June 30, the fiscal year comes to close providing AHCMC staff, board members and you, our constituents, a perfect opportunity to reflect on all we’ve accomplished this year. Below you’ll find a “snack size” retrospective our FY12 work.

2012 County Council Potluck

Our Vision: To provide leadership that sustains arts and humanities organizations, artists and scholars and inspires participation in our County’s rich cultural assets.

Our Work:

  • Advocacy – Successfully advocated to state and local legislators and secured $95,000 increase to FY13 budget for arts and humanities, reinstated Public Arts Trust budget and helped keep funding level for at State level.
  • Outreach – Coordinated 4 professional development,  6 capacity building, and 8 grant workshops serving 150 individuals. Learn more.

    2011 Executive's Awards

  • Montgomery Traditions – Added five new stories about traditional artists in Montgomery County to our new multimedia website
  • Kramer Gallery – Curated six exhibitions of Montgomery County artist fulfilling the goals of the 2001 Cultural Plan to provide “at least one visual art exhibition space to display work by county artist.” (Recommendation 2.4 pg 59)
  • NonProfit Energy Alliance – Signed up 60 local nonprofits that will collectively save an estimated $511,000 while supporting clean sources of energy. Approximately 23 million KWh of Wind Power has been purchased, which is equivalent to offsetting about 35 million pounds of CO2 or to removing 3,000 cars off the roads. Non-Profit Energy Alliance was chosen as a recipient of Washingtonian Magazine’s 2012 Green Awards!

    Student Violinists

  • Public Arts Trust—worked with County lawmakers to reinstate funding for PAT. Initiated a comprehensive survey of the 868-piece collection; prepared for reinstallation of Penguin Rush Hour mural at the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center

  • Marketing – Produced two issues of The Guide to Children’s Art Activities serving the families of 70,000 MCPS elementary students and 2500 library patrons. Completed a successful marketing campaign for that increased web visitors by 180%. Coordinated print and digital cooperative ad buys that served 75 constituents. Provided visitors to with 100 event and programs each month. Sent event data to three other online calendars reaching a total of 40,000 viewers each month. Learn more and join.

What was your favorite program? the Parent Blogger Brunch? the CVC Mixer? a ELO summer program?  Comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

News From Around the County

Monday, July 16th, 2012

With over 450 cultural organizations and 1,500 individual artists and scholars, Montgomery County always has something new going on.  This week, we’re excited to welcome new leadership to two County theaters and our own, Arts and Humanities Council Board of Directors.

AHCMC welcomes new Board Chair Erica A. Leatham and we bid a fond farewell to outgoing Board Chair Jacqueline Manger, who has stepped down as Chair but remains on the Board. New Board Chair, Erica Leatham is of counsel with the law firm of Ballard Spahr.  Her practice focuses on zoning and land-use matters in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region and is a LEED Accredited Professional, as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.  Erica was recently named as one of the Top 100 Women in Maryland by The Daily Record and has held numerous other leadership positions within the real estate, business and local communities. To learn about the AHCMC Board and board committees click here.

Welcome Martin Platt as the new Artistic Director of Olney Theatre Center. Martin comes to Olney Theatre Center from his current position as Co-Director of Perry Street Theatricals (PST), a New York based producing company. Read more.

“I could not be more pleased to be joining Olney Theatre Center as it prepares to celebrate its 75th Anniversary in 2013. Montgomery County has so many vibrant arts organizations, and I look forward to learning more about them, enjoying them, and meeting my colleagues here. Music, dance, art and theatre are all crucially important to me and my day to day life, and I feel privileged to be moving to an area with such abundant riches. I hope I will be able to contribute new and exciting work for Montgomery County!” – Martin Platt

Welcome Ryan Rilette as the new Producing Artistic Director at Round House Theatre. Currently the Producing Director at Marin Theatre Company, Rilette will assume his full-time duties at Round House on August 1. Read more.

“One of the things that immediately interested me about Round House was the incredible support that the county provides for the arts. I’ve run theaters in three different states and have never seen anything like it! I’m thrilled to join the very vibrant Montgomery County arts community, and look forward to getting to know the breadth of the work that’s offered here.

“At Round House, our focus is going to shift some in the years to come. In Bethesda, we’re going to produce the best plays of the 20th century and today. In Silver Spring, we will continue to support the work of emerging theatre companies, but once funding allows, we will also develop and produce new plays by the country’s hottest playwrights there. I also want our work to reflect the community it serves, to be accessible to everyone, and to spark a dialogue. We’re going to lower the barriers to participation, to see what’s stopping people from coming to the theater, and to address those issues. We’re also going to provide our audience with a lot more information about the work that they’re going to see, and encourage them to stick around after the show and talk to us about it.” – Ryan Rilette

Clowns, pratfalls and a musical saw!

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Round House Theatre’s Over The Line Festival has something for everyone, including families! Happenstance Theatre is back with two productions: Pinot & Augustine and on the nOse.

The first is a family-friendly, 45-minute crowd pleaser inspired by the golden age of Circus. Pinot is the talented, authoritarian clown in fancy clothes; Augustine is the less skilled, red-nosed bumbler who just wants to have fun. Watch the two clash and collaborate in this show filled with physical comedy and musical surprises!

One of the musical surprises is when Pinot (Mark Jaster) plays a saw. Yes: he plays a saw. Watch the video below for a quick preview of the show, including a rendition of “Summertime” on saw!

The second show, on the nOse, is a multimedia show about clown that’s sure to shred your assumptions about clowns into a bucket of confetti! Watch the video below for a preview from Sabrina Mandell.

Pinot & Augustine and on the nOse are presented as part of Round House Theatre’s Over The Line Festival, a three-week festival of music, dance and theatre performances in Silver Spring from July 12-29, 2012. Join in on the fun!’s Behind the Scenes offers you a titillating tidbit about upcoming events in Montgomery County. Visit for information about cultural events!

Over the Line Festival: Church

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Forum Theatre is bringing some Church to the Round House Theatre’s Over The Line Festival! Written by acclaimed playwright Young Jean Lee, this play will be sure to challenge the beliefs and assumptions held by believers and non-believers alike.

Watch the video below to hear from Michael Dove, Forum Theatre’s Artist Director, about the play and about the song “Bread” by On!Air!Library!:

Church is presented as part of Round House Theatre’s Over The Line Festival, a three-week festival of music, dance and theatre performances in Silver Spring from July 12-29, 2012.’s Behind the Scenes offers you a titillating tidbit about upcoming events in Montgomery County. Visit for information about cultural events!

Let’s Get Funky–With Fisticuffs

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

This week Behind the Scenes is sneaking a peek at Funky Fisticuffs, a camp at the Round House Theatre Education Center in Silver Spring

Moms and Dads, this camp is for every kid who’s ever wondered how actors like Jackie Chan can fight movie after movie and not be black and blue all the time. Fight choreographer, Casey Kaleb, will give kids a fun and fantastic introduction to the art of hand to hand stage combat.

“In this camp,” says Kaleba, “campers will learn how to smash, flip, slap, kick, and we’re going to do it safely.”

Click to see Funky Fisticuffs video on YouTube.

Check out the video to see campers and Casey in action. Funky Fisticuffs runs from 9am – 4pm during the week of  August 13—17. Cost is $250. Click here to learn more about the camp.