Martin Lowe, Author at The Stage New Westminster - Page 3 of 6

41.67 Days Outside

I grew up in Chilliwack, a very rural city with farmland for miles but I wasn’t exactly an outdoorsman.  My dad used to “torture” my and brother and I by taking long Sunday drives and walks in the woods. He would stop and point at some tree, or some mountain and comment about how the light was falling and which Bob Ross techniques could be used to capture such a breathtaking scene.

My brother and I didn’t have iPhones, nor would my dad have allowed them on such an excursion, so we would trudge along, nodding in agreement, counting the minutes until we were back in the car anxious to get home and “relax” after that day’s “hard work”. (Wow did we have it backward)

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I started to truly appreciate what my dad was sharing with us. He’s not a sentimental man in the way of sharing deep feelings, but in those moments he is a connected man. An appreciative man who, for the busy life he leads, can still appreciate the stillness of nature and all the ailments it can treat. I find myself now taking drives through Chilliwack when I can, or stopping at the side of the road just to get out of the car, take in the scenery, take in some fresh air and clear my head, even if just for a minute.

Now, living in the city, I miss the access to nature that I had as a child. I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the vast outdoor space around my parents house as it was free, close and safe. And I’ve told myself that if I ever have children I’m going to make them basically live outside…for health and happiness…and I imagine it helps keep the house clean? Maybe? No?!

I stumbled upon this concept when looking for further reading after finishing “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown M.D. (an excellent read if you get an opportunity).

1000 Hours Outside supports the idea that the more time we spend outside, adults and children alike, the healthier and happier we will be. The more connected we will be to this place we call home and the more likely we will be to fight for our environmental stability in the future.

Now, for as much as I love the idea of this program, I can’t help but ask myself the practicality of taking on such a challenge. Is something like this even possible in an urban cityscape? Is the inconvenience of managing 1000 hours much like going to the gym…we know we should make time for it…but as long as we get the bare minimum we should be okay…right? What is our bare minimum of outside time?

Somedays all I get is the walk to and from my car. Other days I get an hour long walk in…but even if I did that every day that’s still only 365 hours! (Thank goodness for Leap Years when I get 366)

The website (http://1000hoursoutside.comdiscusses numerous benefits to increased outdoor play time for all human beings, not just children. But given that child development and education is a passion of mine I can’t help but think how hugely beneficial a challenge like this would be for the youth in our community.

Does your city-living family embrace outdoor time? If so how? and where? And how many hours do you think you log in a given week?

Would ever considering taking on the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?

It’s a challenge that I think I’d love to try but really wonder how anyone in the modern world could make it work!

(If I move my office to my patio that counts right?)

You can also find them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/1000hoursoutside

 

The Transformative Power of Halloween

I felt this was a timely post given that I, like many other teachers, have just come through “Halloweek” where we take part in numerous Halloween themed events and do our best to join in the spirited, sugar driven, chaos while leading our lessons.

However, as someone working in performing arts, I am always fascinated by the largest appeal of Halloween, the costumes. While I’m always snapping photos for our own costume collection, or sending them to my mom (my official costumer) for future use, I am now starting to notice something much more interesting about the effect costuming has on our young trick or theatres.

I am reminded of a girl I worked with very early on in my directing career, Alexis. She had been in my program for two or three years at this point and had gradually worked her way out of her shell to a point where she was an incredibly competent performer at 9 years of age. Comfortable in rehearsal and classes and well liked by her cast mates, Alexis was a charming, quiet young thespian. This particular year she was cast as the Queen of Hearts in our production of Alice in Wonderland, her biggest role to date and by far the most demanding. No longer playing characters with personality traits similar similar to herself, she was faced with a brash, over the top, rage fueled, thoughtless persona; in short, her exact opposite. All through rehearsals I tried every trick in the book to bring her out, to have her project more, to animate her body, and I could see she was really struggling to find the courage to do so.

Dress rehearsal came and my costumers arrived, as usual,  with a set of beautiful costumes , included among them the gown for the Queen of Hearts. (As an aside, your acting students will always love your costumers more than you, doesn’t matter that you’ve worked with them all year, the costumers are the best human beings on the planet. This is a reality I have come to not only accept but embrace wholeheartedly 🙂 I stood in the girls’ change room and amidst the “Where is my other shoe” “When do I wear this?” “We forgot Alice’s apron” “Please don’t cartwheel in your costume” “Are you eating in here?!” “Who’s shoe is this?!” Alexis was being pinned into her dress, which fit perfectly

And then I watched her. I watched her as she turned around in the mirror, admiring the enormity of the hoop skirt, and not being able to control the grin on her face. We pinned on her crown, handed her the wand and the costume was complete.She smiled at herself, tapped her wand in her hand. And then, like magic, her shoulders raised, her nose turned up, and she was transformed.

At the dress rehearsal she was now giving me everything I had wanted from her. She was bossy, domineering, loud, expressive, all of the qualities you want in a Queen of Hearts. Anyone who was there that night that had known Alexis was stunned at what was being brought to the stage. Whether it was the size of the costume that brought it out, or an inner growth that occurred upon seeing the outer image, Alexis was now…bigger.

This week I noticed similar changes in other students, students as young as 3. There were a few that hadn’t yet spoken to me this year that were now explaining to me every detail about their character and their costume and a flurry of sound effects I could only pretend to understand (I’ve learned that I’m quite out of touch with today’s popular kids costumes).

They were somehow safer now, shrouded in fake fur, or a plastic mask, or the dress of an ice queen that shall remain nameless that sings and lights up…constantly…

Before writing this post I went back and forth about it’s message. Is this to say that who our children are is determined by what they wear, costumed or otherwise?

Or is it more of an observation that our children already possess these qualities and abilities, and the costume gives them a bit of a buffer to try on a new skill without feeling so exposed because in their minds they are “someone” or “something else”.

I believe that it’s the latter.

In Alexis’s case, we had discussed all matters of this character’s personality, why she was like this, what made her so angry. We had discussed that playing a role meant that we were pretending to be someone we’re not, and that this meant attempting to understand how a person could be so angry and loud.

Explaining to a young actor the difference between who they are as a person and who they have been asked to play on stage can be very difficult, especially when a child doesn’t want to appear “mean” to her friends, even in a pretend context because of how real it can feel or because they’re worried they will hurt someone’s real feelings. But it is this conversation that bursts open the door of empathy and compassion and builds the ability to think about how others feel, how our actions affect others and how to understand someone’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.

I am not encouraging the idea that how we dress is a complete summation of who we are, nor do I think this is the lesson to take away as we watch our kids dance like a ballerina, or karate chop like a ninja, or cackle like a witch while going door to door on Halloween. But I do think there is something to be learned by literally dressing up as someone else and observing how you feel about your usually familiar environment. Costume and dramatic play, at Halloween or other times, gives our kids an opportunity to practice and understand behavioural and social skills they may not yet be comfortable with, but could benefit from if given a safe environment in which to try them out.

Free Trial Classes – January 10

We will be holding free trials of all our classes on January 10, 2016. These trials will be for classes starting in January.

Music & Movement

  • Baby Music Discoverers | 0-18 Months | 9:30am – 10:15am (FULL)
  • Toddler Music Explorers | 16-35 Months | 10:45am-11:30am (FULL)
  • Preschool Music Adventurer | 3-5 Years | 12:00am-12:45pm
  • Primary Music Trailblazers | 5-7 Years | 1:15-2:00pm

Dance Classes

  • Ballet/Tap | 3-5 Years | 10:45am – 11:30am

These usually fill up quickly, so reserve your spot now.

 

Jazz Dance

We are so thrilled to be offering our Junior Musical Theatre program that we’re adding additional programming to support a well rounded musical theatre experience. We are offering a new Jazz class for a one time only introductory price. We’re not only extending huge savings to our Junior Musical Theatre students, but also to anyone interested in trying out this 10 week program. We only have 10 spots available so register now on our website.

Click here for more information.

Junior Musical Theatre Company

Today I am beyond excited!

Today we announce that our Junior Musical Theatre Company will run for the first time since the studio opened in January 2013. Now, why is this such a big deal you ask?

When I first started teaching it was a program like this that allowed me to discover my passion for teaching drama and directing children in theatre. It completely altered the path of my career in the best possible way. For 9 years I built a program from 6 students to 14 students, with annual waiting lists from it’s 5th year onward. It was a program that students returned to year after year, giving me the opportunity to really connect not only with these students, but with their families.

It was a true community building program. The amount of work it takes is unimaginable, but the way the families rallied around myself and my team, a group of volunteers (some theatre professionals, others enthusiastic theatre supporters) was truly a wonder to behold.

When I left my previous position to branch out on my own I worried so much that I wouldn’t be able to find that sense of community again, that for some reason it would be harder to find in a more densely populated area where more established businesses like this one already exist. As time has passed I have become deeply humbled, and so incredibly honoured, that I have been given the opportunity to work with families (over 80 this year!) on a weekly basis, and work with families that have chosen The Stage and it’s staff to be a part of their child’s educational community.

The Junior Musical Theatre Company has attempted to run many times in the past, but it simply has not had the registration to be able to afford to run it. Arts programming, to the standards at which The Stage holds it, is not cheap. But I’d like the excitement of our inaugural year to speak to other business owners. It will happen. Patience is a virtue, and a hard one to come by at that. But combined with hard work, attention to detail and adaptability, patience will pay off.

I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity these past two and a half years to grow in my early childhood music programming classes; the babies, toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary students I work with every week have sparked in me an even more intense desire to provide the best quality programming I can, and to continue to strive to grow in my understanding of children and how studies in music, theatre, and dance can truly enhance their development as they grow into the future leaders of our communities.

To the students and their families in this year’s program; you are going to be a part of something wonderful. Myself and my team are looking so forward to working with you. I cannot wait to see how you grow this year and look forward to you reaping all the benefits performing arts can offer you.

Here’s to a fantastic 2015/2016 season!

Stefanie

We’re Hiring!

Update: Position has been filled.
The Stage is looking for a passionate enthusiastic dance teacher to teach our children’s dance classes at our New Westminster studio beginning September 2015. The Stage prides itself on offering the highest quality programming for children ages 0-18. We dedicate ourselves to upholding a whole child development philosophy in all of our classes. A professional atmosphere but completely student focused, and a seriously fun cast of educators. Join us!

Ideal candidates

  • Love working with kids ages 3-10 (not just kinda sorta like them)
  • Must, must, must have a passion for teaching
  • Are experienced in building curriculum or are interested in learning how to build curriculum
  • Interested in becoming part of our faculty family (we’re a bit nutty but a lot of fun) and have a willingness to participate in studio events to promote classes and fulfill our studio’s community service mandate
  • Have extensive training in their discipline
  • Have a resume outlining previous work experience and a performance resume
  • Will provide references
  • Experience organizing dance recitals, costume orders, festival applications an asset
  • CPR Certification an asset
  • Dance teaching certification an asset

The classes we are hoping to offer include:

  • Ballet
  • Jazz
  • Tap
  • Hip Hop

Ideal Availability (negotiable)

  • Sundays 9:30-10:30am; 11:00-12:00pm
  • Wednesdays 5:00-6:00; 6:15-7:15

Please email resumes to stefanie@thestagenewwest.ca.

Thank you for your interest, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.