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Hello everyone!
I must admit that I was excited to do the music class on Saturday, but I didn’t know what an amazing time we would have.  After we started by getting to know each other, we talked about our favorite band and instruments.  We came up with a lot of different styles of music and used movements to match sounds that instruments make and we even did some really cool beatboxing.  Both students sang some of their favorite songs.  We had some great singers.

Playing rhythm games with the group

Playing rhythm games with the group

Playing the electric guitar with Nicky

Playing the electric guitar with Nicky

Talking with the group about types of instruments

Talking with the group about types of instruments

This is what songs can be about and what kinds of instruments you can use!

This is what songs can be about and what kinds of instruments you can use!

The best part of the day was that we wrote our own original song.  We decided to use the 4th of July as our theme.  We talked about different things that everyone did that day.  Then we talked about things we ate and of course, fireworks.  Once we established the first verse, we moved on to the chorus which was, ‘we were free, free, free to do whatever we want’.  It was perfect.  So I sat at the piano and we quickly got a song going.  We made it easily through our verses and chorus.  But we needed a bridge.  One of the students had said that Katy Perry had sung at the fireworks in Manhattan, so we used the theme from one of her songs for the bridge.  It fit perfectly. We decided to call it “Free To Do Whatever We Want (The 4th of July Song)” which was very fitting, since the holiday is about freedom and they loved staying home from school so they could be free!
Hard at work on our original song!

Hard at work on our original song!

 

Teddy, Nicky and I working on the song

Teddy, Nicky and I working on the song

Jenna helping us remember the words

Jenna helping us remember the words

Liz and Emily helping Teddy and I sing

Liz and Emily helping Teddy and I sing

Michelle and Nicky singing along

Michelle and Nicky singing along

Teddy and Nicky singing "Free to Do Whatever We Want"

Teddy and Nicky singing “Free to Do Whatever We Want”

We put our song together and practiced it a few times before we invited in the parents and performed.  It was a smash hit!  It was really fun and the students really got into it.  They drummed on a box for percussion and we all danced and sang.  Huge applause!
Check it out:
The best part is that we wrote and performed the song from start to finish in 30 minutes.  That was pretty cool.  But it was really all of the great inspiration that the students brought that made it happen.  I was so impressed by the ideas we came up with and the creative flow of our class.
I really look forward to doing another class soon.  It’s great working with such a caring group of people and the students are really creative and love music.  I was a great way to spend an afternoon.
If you weren’t following during class, you can relive all of the updates, directly from the classroom on twitter @Daytime_Moon and on facebook http://www.facebook.com/DaytimeMoonCreations. But the most exciting of all is all of the video clips, including the highlight reel of the full class–so subscribe to our channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/DaytimeMoonCreations to see all the footage!
Ken
Hey everyone I’m Emily an intern for Daytime Moon. I have had the pleasure of  being a volunteer for our fall and spring programs and have worked with many amazing kids. I am very excited to be blogging and sharing Daytime Moon’s latest programs and news!
July is a very exciting month here at Daytime Moon Creations! Our Summer Workshop series begins on July 7th, Daytime Moon was featured in Autism Spectrum News and we just launched a public YouTube channel. So subscribe to see all the videos from our classrooms!
Our Summer Workshop Series marks an exciting time in Daytime Moon’s growth- our first social media campaign that connects fundraising to programming and gives everyone a front row seat for the exciting results! The workshop series will bring in established artists in a variety of fields from film to music, storytelling to dance to each teach one workshop for our students. Kids can sign up for as many classes as they’d like, and each class will be creating projects to share with our friends, family and community. The sharing is the most exciting part: participants will be sharing tweets, teachers will be writing journals on our blog and our projects will be broadcasted on our newly public YouTube channel. Our first video went live on Wednesday!
Ever wondered what the theories behind all of Daytime Moon’s success are? Well now some of them are published! Autism Spectrum News is an award winning publication by Mental Health News. Their summer issue focuses on “Vital Supports and Services in the Community” and features an article  by Daytime Moon Creations executive director Jenna Gabriel. Jenna’s article, entitled “Everyone Can Play: Using Theatre to Promote Developmental Gains,” addresses the vital role of play and recreational programming play in the development of language and social skills.

Read Jenna’s Article Here

In addition to all our exciting programming and press, Daytime moon will also be hosting a fundraiser at Josie Woods’s Pub, 11 Waverly Place, this Friday July 13th at 7:30. A $40 donation at the door includes 5 drinks, food and a $15 tax-deductible donation to Daytime Moon Creations. For more information, check out the facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/242312595887189/

I hope to see you there!

I can’t wait for our summer session to start and to share more exciting updates with you!

Emily

Hello Everyone!

Happy Spring! It’s taken a little while longer than planned, but I finally have photos from last month’s production of “Martian Mayhem:The Musical” to share!!

The show was absolutely brilliant. Every student brought in costume pieces (some much more than just suggestions!) that helped with their characters. All of our Martians decked out in red, which created an amazing visual against the red of the stage accents. And everyone got a chance to shine as they told the story of a group of astronauts crash landed on an unknown part of Mars, in conflict with the royal family, but working together to put aside differences for what’s best for both planets. It was a hysterical and heart warming script, written entirely by the participants in our workshop with the Cooke Center Academy SKILLS Program and the CCA Alumni Association.

Check out the pictures:

Nagisa, Geraldine, Carrie and Emily as the Astronauts preparing for takeoff

Christina as Jasmine, Princess of Mars

Jake and Alexis as Koba and Soray, King and Queen of Mars

The whole cast with Michelle, Ken and I celebrating their amazing achievement!

In other exciting updates, our spring extracurricular program, Stars of the Stage, kicked off on March 17th with our biggest group yet! Every Saturday we have 9 participants ages 11-15, plus our volunteers, Meredith, Michelle and I. We also are thrilled to welcome back Meredith’s favorite partner in crime, CCA intern Nagisa Mikami, for her third time as assistant playwright. The group is hugely varied, with so many exciting and creative personality types. We spent the first few days playing theatre games and doing creative improv exercises, getting to know each other and getting comfortable in the group. Here, you can see Teddy take us on an interactive imaginative tour of his favorite place to go. Come join us!

Teddy took the group to Coney Island:

After the second class, it was clear that our group was passionate about exploring, and a lot of their games had to do with treasure hunting and exploring unknown islands. What an exciting premise for a play! When we began working with the group to craft characters, we found even more excitement–a man who lives in an underground gold castle and lives for finding treasure, a werewolf king who sends his wolf subjects out to canvas the town looking for his lost treasure, a crazy witch who concocts secret potions and spells to help people, and a cranky old sea captain were among the characters our group came up with without any prompts from us, just an old box of costume and prop pieces! Needless to say, Meredith and Nagisa have had tons of raw material to work with.

We don’t have our final script yet, but armed with this premise, we’ve begun doing more character exercises and improvised scenes. As we started developing characters, our actors came up with inventions that their character would need on the magic island. Here, Alex and Shachi share Alex’s magic pen that can bring to life anything it draws:

By class on the 21st, we should have a final script, and I can’t wait to share the story with you! Stay tuned, there are lots more exciting stories to come!

Cheers,
Jenna

I know its been awhile since our last update, but we’ve had lots going on at Daytime Moon, and I want to share with you in the excitement!

I just looked at the date of our last update, and it appears that I owe you all a big HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that your 2012s have been wonderful so far, and I’d like to share with you our Happy New Year video greeting. It was on the website for a month back in January and went out in our newsletter, but in case you missed it (or just want to reflect on an amazing 2011 with me for a moment) here it is again. It’s a great look at our amazing past year, and a look forward to what is already proving to be an incredible 2012!

So now to update you on what we’ve been up to!

Unlike in programs past, when we’ve taken a little while to refuel after our final productions, we hit the ground running in the new year, starting an in-school program at Aaron Academy right away.

This program, which ran for ten weeks and finished this afternoon, was a during school elective class for a small group of 7th graders. With shorter classes (we only met for an hour each week), we ultimately had less time, but nonetheless worked toward an in-school presentation of scenes for teachers and friends. It was, as always, incredible to watch their growth–a group that was initially very shy about improvising and often quiet in reading was loudly engaging in their presentation and even coming up with accents for their characters! Much to my excitement, the group was really into Star Wars, so we chose scenes from “A New Hope” to get things rolling. Talking about empathy for Darth Vader’s character and how to channel energy into his calm evil… The nonverbal communication that happens every time R2D2 uses his beeps to speak… I found myself finding new things to love about “Star Wars” every day–an added joy for someone who grew up on the VHS version of the trilogy!! As we neared the end of our unit and the final performance of the scenes, the group was getting bitten by the writing bug, wanting to change endings and create their own scenes. Which is extra great, because we’ve been invited back to continue with a second unit devoted to just that–playwriting!! Starting next week, we’ll be working with the group to develop a much more formal presentation: a full length original production to be presented for faculty, family, friends and the community on Aaron Academy Day! Can’t wait to continue our creations!!

In the middle of January, a few weeks after starting with Aaron Academy, Michelle and I returned to the Cooke Center Academy SKILLS Program. Fresh off the success of “Welcome to Camp,” our group of 8 young adults was eager to start writing right away. The growth and development of their improv skills was apparent from the very beginning and Michelle and I could tell right away we were in for something very special. By the third week, we had the makings of a script–the group knew that they wanted to write an adventure story set in outer space that involved archeologists, astronauts, royalty and a story about coming together. Pretty inspirational and exciting themes, no? And they expressed their desire for it to be a musical, which we were only too happy to hear.

In the middle of the program, right after we started writing scenes, Daytime Moon was invited by GallopNYC, a therapeutic horseback riding company, to present an acting clinic alongside RJ Mitte, a professional actor on TV’s “Breaking Bad” who has cerebral palsy and is a passionate advocate for individuals with disabilities. Our group was able to present some of the scenes they’d written for RJ, who gave advice and helped them to continue discovering their characters. Check out the great video and photos from the event!

Here, Alexis, Jake, and Christina show RJ the scene where the King and Queen of Mars contemplate what to do with the astronauts they’ve taken captive:

And here are some photos!

The group warming up with RJ

RJ talking to the group

Carrie meeting Addison Witt, RJ's manager

RJ, Addison, and I going over the scenes for the group to perform

RJ working on the draft of Jake and Alexis' scene from "Martian Mayhem"

Addison and Christina working on a scene

The whole group with RJ, Michelle and I

Alicia Kershaw, the Executive Director of GallopNYC, RJ Mitte, and I

And three weeks ago, we had the most exciting opportunity of all: guest artist Ken McQueen, a professional composer and music director, joined us for rehearsal. The group talked through the arc of the play and the moments where the energy of the scene was so high that a song would be important. Together, we found three important places for music and began improvising with Ken. The group had an absolute blast, as you can see:

The group and I mapping out the scene arcs for Ken's music rehearsal

The group and Ken hard at work

Ken McQueen

Alexis improvising with Ken

Jake's turn to improvise with Ken

And in an amazing twist of fate, right as we were talking about how at the end of the play the Martians and Astronauts should sing about all of the wonderful things around them that are red (since Mars is the Red Planet, after all) a leak in the ceiling that had been pesky all class suddenly opened up in a huge raining flood of water that had turned…RED!!! No joke- it was such an exciting (though certainly inconvenient) coincidence! Since the group loved improvising songs with Ken so much, we did our closing activity (where everyone says their name, how they’re feeling and their favorite part of class) to music, telling each student to sing their closing activity answers instead. Here, Alexis improvises a short song about how much she loves Daytime Moon and how we “made it rain red” before passing the baton to Nagisa for her verse:

Now, the completed script, called “Martian Mayhem:The Musical,” is ready to be shared!! So join us for a royal rumble on the red planet as we present a reading/workshop production of their amazing creation this Monday the 19th at the Peoples Improv Theater at 4:30 PM. The address is 123 East 24th St, and I hope to see you there!!! The play tells the story of a group of astronauts on a mission to Mars. When their ship lands drastically off course, they meet the Martian Royal Family, who–out of fear–take two of the astronauts captive. What ensues is a hilarious and, at times, touching musical journey about seeking adventure and celebrating our differences.

And last, but certainly not least, I have to give you a peek of what’s next on our horizon–“Stars of the Stage,” our 10 week program for ages 8-16, kicks off this Saturday, March 17th. Michelle, Meredith and I will be back in the rehearsal room with an amazing crew of enthusiastic volunteers and what I’m sure will be a great group of kids. We’ve got a lot of new students signed up, and I can’t wait to meet them and get started on our show! I’m promising now to be better about the blog, so you’ll have updates on that group (and on the “Martian Mayhem” performance) soon.

For now, I think that’s all, folks…so I’m signing off. I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring weather and are as excited as I am for everything going on here at Daytime Moon!

Sending you lots of Springtime Cheer,

Jenna

As promised, I can finally share some stories and photos (video footage still to come!) from “Out of the Box,” the original play from Daytime Moon’s fall program with the Peoples Improv Theater. “Out of the Box,” written by Meredith Hackman and Cooke Center Academy Intern Nagisa Mikami, chronicled the story of 5 museum artifacts attempting the save the job of Emily, the museum curator, by thinking of an exciting new exhibit. Meredith and Nagisa’s script was based on original characters developed by the cast over the course of the program.

Preparation for “Out of the Box” was, as with any theatrical performance, fraught with hilarity, hard work, joy and (at times) a little craziness. After finding out that Jeffrieal, who had developed a character based on his favorite baseball players, was leaving early for the holidays, we rushed to film all of his lines so that he could appear in the museum as a painting that came to life! Certainly tech design brings its own level of insanity, but thanks to Meredith’s determination and everyone’s refusal to accept that Jeffrieal wouldn’t be a part of the final performance, Jeffrieal was onstage like the rest of the cast: dancing, speaking, and pretending to be a dinosaur! All of our other actors also were 100% dedicated to making “Out of the Box” a huge success–you’ve already seen footage of some of their character interviews, of Jake’s songwriting session with country singer Harold Allen, and some of the commercials they made, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much additional work each actor put in to learn their lines and deliver them loudly and with emotion. Talia even perfected an accent for her role as Princess Anastasia!

I continue to be amazed by the achievements of our participants, and “Out of the Box” was no exception. They played to a packed house on the mainstage at the Peoples Improv Theater, and frequently had to stop for laughs and cheers as the audience actively engaged with and responded to the story being played out. Every single participant had their moment in the spotlight and they shared the stage with such presence. They showed us the purest aspect of theatre: the sheer joy in creating and expressing. I’m so proud to have been able to witness it.

Enjoy the pictures!

Libby helping Nicky get into his Tyrone costume

The cast and I checking in before the show started

Jake sneaking a peak at the audience

Nicky breaking out of the box as Tyrone the Dinosaur

 

Teddy as Ben Franklin

 

Jake as the Famous Country Singer

Jake, Talia and Nagisa during Curtain Call

 

The whole group (including Jeffrieal!) after the show

Cheers!
Jenna

Tomorrow, two weeks will have passed since members of the Cooke Center Academy Alumni Association and students in the Cooke Center SKILLS Program made their Daytime Moon Creations stage debut in “Welcome To Camp.” The cast performed on the mainstage at the Peoples Improv Theater to a huge and enthusiastic crowd. It was an overwhelming success!

I couldn’t have been prouder of our actors, who worked together to write the entire play themselves. This huge feat of collaboration was only eclipsed by the passion with which they tackled the performance. The group never once let nerves get the best of them and approached each moment onstage with emotion, honesty and confidence. It was incredible to watch, and I’m so thrilled to finally be able to share some pictures with you!

The cast going over last minute preparations before the show

Alexis as Rapone, the Camp Director

Sam as Kelly, a new camper

 

Christina as Taylor, one of the bullies at Camp Ojai Lake

Carrie and Geraldine onstage as Molly and Alex

 

Jake as telling a ghost story as Hal, the oldest camper

 

Patrick and Nagisa celebrating after curtain call

The cast of "Welcome To Camp" with Michelle and I

Cheers!
Jenna

 

Hello again!

So I just finished going through this amazing footage and couldn’t wait to share it with you.

As you already know, “Out of the Box” chronicles the story of five museum artifacts–a Ben Franklin dummy, a statue of Princess Anastasia, a T-Rex skeleton, a painting of a famous baseball player, and a country music concert poster–as they work together to create an amazing exhibit and save the job of Emily, the museum curator. Naturally, as we created the play, we turned to the unique talents of each of our amazing actors: For example, Teddy already knew so much about inventions and was so interested in improv-ing about Time Travel, it was an obvious choice to cast him as Ben Franklin and allow the character to explore each of the other characters’ time periods and lives. For Jake, who has an extensive knowledge of (and unparalleled passion for!) country music, we would have been remiss not to allow him a chance to perform a musical number.

Early in the show, Jake’s character shows the group his “favorite song to play when [he] was alive” and performs country legend Hank Williams’ standard “So Lonesome I Could Cry.” But the truly amazing part comes later in the play, when the whole group talks about how museums house stories and memories of such a wide array of people and events, not just any one thing. Jake’s character reminds us about how country music is similar; often country songs tell stories of past events and remind us never to forget. And then, you guessed it, he sings an original song with the group.

So how to create that moment?! We couldn’t have been luckier. And it couldn’t have been more fun:

Harold Allen, country singer and the centerpiece of Harold Allen and the Bonfire Choir (a country band that has toured the country, opened for Leann Rimes, and just released their first live album!) came into Daytime Moon a week before the show to work with Jake to write the song!! It was an amazing experience for Jake to be able to work with someone as excited as he is about legends like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Kris Kristofferson, and it was great that Jake was able to be in the driver’s seat with some of the writing, really working with Harold to create the final song (In Harold’s words, “Copyright Harold Allen and Jake.”)

The song they wrote was absolutely perfect for the show: sweet, melodic, touching, and country to the core. Check out part of the video from their work session:

And here are some amazing shots:

Harold's guitar--this guitar has played in Nashville, strummed the chords of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, and toured the country with Harold Allen and the Bonfire Choir. Jake was beside himself with excitement!

Harold and Jake singing "So Lonesome I Could Cry"

Harold and Jake celebrating their successful songwriting session

Jake trying on Harold's cowboy hat

Showing off their original song, "Museums and Memories"

Hope you enjoyed!

Jenna