Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Beautiful Summer Outing

A local performance of Randy Wyatt’s “A Sleeping Beauty Somewhere in Time” provided a positive and enriching experience for children from the Cook Arts Center and the Cook Library Center on the beautiful day of June 27. Not only did the kids get to venture out on a Rapid bus ride to Aquinas College, but they also reveled in the beauty that the campus, the Circle Theatre, and the play itself had to offer.

While waiting for The Rapid outside of the Cook Arts Center, the students wore some of their best clothes and had eager smiles on their faces. When the bus arrived, the seats quickly filled up with the youth and their chaperones. The bus commuted to the Central Station where Cook Arts Center students linked up with the Cook Library Scholars. On this ride from southwest Grand Rapids to the east side of the city, some kids seemed to be captivated, looking out the windows at the “mansions” in Heritage Hill and asking insightful questions about buying and renting houses. Other kids waited patiently, while still others wiggled excitedly.

Once the bus arrived at the stop near campus, the group walked through the lush, green streets toward the Aquinas campus, and arrived at the theater shortly. As they lined up to occupy the rows in the darkly lit theater, smoke machines set the tone of the play. One student practiced his reading the program material. “As our play unfolds,” one student read to Miss Taylor, “take a moment to look at the children around you. Are their eyes full of wonder? Do they believe in an evil faery, talking animals, and a happily ever after? Of course. Do they care that they story is a metaphor or a morality lesson. Absolutely not.”

The lights went down, the play began, and the students watched it play out dramatically through a pervasive cloud of smoke, full of highs and lows, moral lessons, and the token happy ending. The students did, in fact, watch in wonder and anticipation throughout the unique twist on the classic story of Sleeping Beauty. Their eyes lit up with ideas, questions, hope, inspiration, sadness, and mystery. When the play concluded, they clapped enthusiastically for the hard work that the performers did to bring the fairy tale to life.

To seal their experience at the theater to memory, the students were given slips of paper for the actors to autograph. Excitedly filing out to the lobby, the students lined up with others from a variety of schools to capture the attention of the different performers. Some asked for their photos to be taken, and many made it their mission to get the autograph of each actor. To conclude the experience, they were greeted outdoors with a snack and juice, and then they walked to the bus stop for the trip home.

This timely day trip allowed for the perfect getaway for the students who recently departed from their regular school schedules. It also gave them the opportunity to enjoy one another’s company, view the city from a different perspective, watch an entertaining and enlightening performance, and take home some keepsakes from the journey.  

The Cook Arts Center students' silly photo before the trip

The twins, Laila and Tia, enjoying The Rapid bus ride to the Circle Theatre

Tia, Maynor, Rubi, and Elizabeth

Students waiting patiently in the seats of the Circle Theatre

Piper with King Eli (actor Russ Palmitier)

Huldra (actress Madeline Jones) with three siblings: Estelita, Elizabeth, and Maynor

Piper with the dark fairy, Maelstrom (actress Jackie Green)

Laila with the future prince, Troy (Actor Ben Avery)

Rubi making a silly face with Smerkly (Actor Adam Hyde)

Tia with the gargoyle, Braug (Actor Michael Sali)