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Archive for November, 2011

Every week, I (Michelle, Jenna’s assistant teacher) get to meet with one of our interns for our Saturday program at the PIT, Jake!  Jake is helping us create the video portion of this blog, and even though he’s not with us on Saturdays, he gets to watch us in action via our nifty flip camera.  I wanted to give him an opportunity to introduce himself, so heeeeere’s Jake!

My name is Jacob and I am a student at Cooke SKILLs.  It’s my final year in the program and I hope to achieve my goals in working with animals, human rights, and film.  I want to play a big part in conservation of the environment so animals and humans can thrive.  I’d like to team up with organizations like UNICEF and the United Nations.  I want to work to bring food and homes to people, not to mention education and freedom of expression.  In film, it has been my dream to create great films, not just for the pleasure of it, but also because some media these days are leaving us worrying about who we are on the outside.  I want to introduce people, especially kids and young adults, to films with good values and sincere storytelling and those who put both humor and heart in a balanced way.   At SKILLs my favorite subject is World History because I’ve come to learn that the more we learn about our past, the more we learn about how to construct and build our future.  I like to read because it’s good to learn about something new and get a sense of what happens in a story, whether real or fictitious.  I also write and I want people to be portrayed in good ways and not stereotyped or biased.

Daytime Moon Creations is a stepping stone because it’s working with people and introducing them to good environments, not to mention filming them.  Working for this company is a dream come true for me because it’s my kind of thing: working with young people and introducing them to wonderful environments.  I hardly understood until recently how much things like this can influence us and gives us an opportunity to do things in positive ways.

I also attend the Daytime Moon Theater Workshop on Thursdays.  Before Daytime Moon, I was in the theater and film business.  At camp, I played a British soldier in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Peter in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Man Behind the Curtain in The Wizard of Oz.  At Cooke Center Academy, I was in The Wizard of Oz again as The Scarecrow.  I also created three short films with my film tutors.

With all this experience, the Thursday program is giving me the hope that I could someday give out a voice to others, and help actors get into character, just as Jenna and Michelle do for me and my classmates.

-Jake

Last week, each actor at the PIT created a commercial for something they were each interested in.  Jake and I chose a couple of them to show you, so check them out!

Teddy shows us the best things about owning an iPod:

And Talia makes us all want to buy an American Girl Doll:

Jake’s Take on the commercials: They are interesting because people can express their feelings about what they like, or to put it bluntly, their cup of tea. If I were to make a commercial, it would be about Wildlife Explorer, which is a series about wildlife, habitats, and conservation issues.

Jake’s first video is our introduction to our video blog which will feature kids each week.

Jake’s Take: Editing this video was the first time I got a glimpse of the actors on screen doing their daily exercises and games, or to make it simple, activities.  I made the video using iMovie by cutting and pasting parts of footage delivered from Daytime Moon.  The emotion exercises indicate actors getting a sense of what each feeling is like: happy, sad, scared, angry – that sort of thing. It is necessary because in this way, actors can learn to express feelings when they play the roles on stage.

Until next time…

-Michelle and Jake

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Summer Camp in Fall!

Have you ever wondered how a play gets written with sixteen different playwrights? It’s no easy feat, let me tell you that! With fourteen actors, plus Michelle and I, sixteen is the magic number with our Thursday group at the Cooke Center Academy.  I’m so impressed with how everyone has worked together to bring new ideas to the table and how open they’ve been to trying things out in front of the group!

As I told you in my last blog entry, our group decided to set the play at a summer camp. After making that decision, everyone dove right in to exploring the characters and creating original scenes.  The actors have played counselors, new campers, campers who are afraid of ghost stories, campers who like being outside, campers who are homesick, campers who are bullied, and so many more and their original scenes will form the basis of the final script, which will be finished by next week’s class! But unlike when I wrote the last blog entry, I now have photos and videos to share!!

So I want to invite you to come explore the process with us. It’s not easy to be given fifteen minutes to create an original scene (When Meredith, the playwright working with our Saturday group, heard  that the actors on Thursday were given that prompt, she literally exclaimed: “I would freeze if I were given only fifteen minutes to come up with a scene!”) but every single actor in our group is a total “yes, and…” rock star. They all just rolled with it!

Check out two of the scenes they created:

Here, Geraldine plays a camper who’s feeling lonely and homesick and William plays her friend who talks her through it:

And here, Yumi plays a counselor teaching Jake and Nagisa to build a campfire, and Jake steps up when Nagisa has trouble:

It’s pretty incredible, right?!?!  Those scenes were written at the class before last, giving everyone  the chance to come up with a first draft of their character. Yesterday, we delved further into that work so that we could flesh out the characters in the play. For example, Geraldine came up with a back story for her character, Alex, in which Alex ends up becoming a bully because of how sad she feels and how jealous she is of the campers who have friends. Geraldine and the rest of the group then decided that by the end of the play, the other campers will get through to Alex and she’ll learn that being mean isn’t the way to deal with loneliness.

Even without getting philosophical about how relevant and moving that story line is, it’s inspiring to me to watch our group find their own voices and create characters that are close to their hearts. By the end of class, everyone had named their character and come up with a basic arc for them in the play. So we know who the counselors will be and some of the problems that our campers will face throughout the play. And because the group loves playing freeze dance so much, it’s pretty obvious to Michelle and I that we’ll be setting the final scene at the camp dance!

So that means that next week starts our formal rehearsals with the script. I can’t wait!!

But for now, check out some pictures of the Thursday group:

William and I using a pretend umbrella during Charades

Yumi and William showing what it looks like when you're cold

Jake using nonverbal communication to ask Michelle "May I have this dance?" during a game called No Words

Nagisa saying, "I'm bored." during a game of No Words

William and Geraldine rehearsing their scene

Geraldine and Nagisa watching another group perform their scene

Jake, Yumi, Nagisa and I rehearsing their scene about learning to make a campfire

Hope you enjoyed the backstage peek. Can’t wait to share more!!!

Jenna

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That’s right! Can you believe it? Where has the time gone?!?! We’re nearing the halfway point in our two programs and I have so many amazing updates to share!

Our group at the Cooke Center Academy is already “yes, and…”ing itself into a full script! The group is huge (fourteen young adults!!) and full of such a melting pot of personalities and interests, but they’ve all really come together to help write this play. Starting with fun storytelling exercises and looking to Harpo Marx, Lucille Ball, and Charlie Chaplin for examples of how we talk without using words, the group came up with the idea of setting their final play at summer camp. We’ve already created scenes about campers making new friends, helping each other learn how to make a fire, and coaching a friend through when he or she is feeling homesick. It’s been pretty incredible to watch and I can’t wait to see what they come up with tomorrow–we’re doing some more improv and by next week we’ll have a script to start rehearsing! Michelle and I have been videotaping, and our favorite photographer Ani Tomasic came in last week, so hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have some footage and photographs to share with you all!

Our program at the PIT is off to an amazing start as well. We have five actors in the class who are all very different, but it makes for such a great group. They’ve really bonded with each other and formed an incredible ensemble, and have also formed a strong relationship with the teachers and Nagisa, our intern from the Cooke Center Academy who is assisting Meredith with writing the final script. Backstage secret: after playing a really cool game called “Night at the Museum” where each of the participants played an exhibit that came to life, Meredith came up with the idea of a play that’s set in a museum where all of the paintings come to life and have an adventure. We don’t know yet what that adventure entails, but the group’s already started creating characters, so I know it’s going to be pretty spectacular!

Michelle and Jake have been hard at work on getting the video blog going so that we can share lots of exciting updates with you in a more interactive way. For the launch, Jake’s been editing up a storm, putting together a great video that shows some of the games we play and input from our actors. Eventually, our goal is to share an update after each class so that every week, you’ll get to hear some fun updates via video from some of our actors! I’ve seen the drafts of the inaugural video; I think you’ll love it when it goes live!

Pictures and video are still to come from our program at the Cooke Center Academy, but in the meantime, I can share with you some great pictures and videos from the PIT. The pictures are from throughout, but the three videos are from our Halloween class, where we played a game called “MASK-erade.” Everyone got a chance to put on a pretend mask and become a character for the group to guess, and here are some of our favorites!

Teddy went first, check it out!

Jeffrieal became a baseball player when he put his mask on:

And then Nicky drew from J.R.R. Tolkien for inspiration to become a wizard:

And here are some photos:

Jeffrieal and I

Jake, Nagisa and Teddy posing as a rock band during a game of "Group Photo"

Jake, Nagisa and Teddy posing as a rock band during a game of "Group Photo"

Talia and Maya being a snake exhibit during the first game of "Night at the Museum"

Jeffrieal showing what it looks like when you're angry

Can’t wait to share more with you as things progress!

Jenna


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