The Village Theatre KIDSTAGE program is extremely proud to announce a summer partnership with Echo Glen Children’s Center!
For the duration of both The Spitfire Grill and Urinetown Summer Independent Productions, we will be collecting new paperback books to be donated to our neighbors at Echo Glen. Patrons are encouraged to bring new paperback books or audiobooks (CD version only please) of the following genres to the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre when they attend the show. Bring your donation to the theatre and drop it in the donation box. The books will be sanitized and donated to Echo Glen following the run of the shows.
Echo Glen Children’s Center and Village Theatre would like to remind patrons to be conscious of the content of all donations, and kindly ask patrons to refrain from donating books which promote topics such as violence, gangs, drugs/alcohol, etc.
We humbly thank you for your donations, and would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the community, as well as our friends at Echo Glen Children’s Center.
- Autobiographies (sports or entertainment)
- Popular picks (Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, or other popular series)
The Echo Glen Children’s Center is also looking for new paperback donations for their Social Justice Library including the following genres:
- Juvenile Justice
- Social Justice
- Gender Identity. We will also be collecting new audiobooks on CD format as well.
From the Dramaturg: Why I chose to reach out to Echo Glen Children’s Center:
Echo Glen Children’s Center is a medium-security facility located in the Snoqualmie Valley included in the Issaquah School District. It provides treatment for younger male and female offenders in the area who are serving time for criminal charges by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
At a first glance, one may not see the correlation between Village Theatre and Echo Glen. However, I would implore audiences to look deeper into our shared core values and beliefs to reveal our true similarities. The Village Theatre KIDSTAGE program is a summer program which utilizes a student-driven approach to creating theatre. Throughout KIDSTAGE’s history, students are encouraged to present their authentic selves to the world; utilizing creativity, imagination, and determination. Village Theatre’s mission statement is “to provide a personal development program for young people which uses theatre arts: To teach creativity and responsibility. To encourage teamwork and personal integrity. To foster self-esteem and appreciation for live theatre”. I felt so connected to Echo Glen’s mission as well, as it relates so similarly to our own. Echo Glen strives “to rewrite the scripts of [youth’s] lives”.
I feel as though both of our organizations aim to enrich and augment youth education in different ways, but we both yearn to foster a healthy, safe, and educational environment for everyone. The work being done at Echo Glen is essential, not just by the staff and faculty, but also by the students. Their dedication to education and rehabilitation inspired me to partner with Echo Glen. Throughout my research during my internship for The Spitfire Grill, I found that the hardships depicted in the show are often overlooked in the real world, especially the struggles of incarcerated women and youth. That is why I am so happy to work alongside an organization that helps both of those marginalized groups to definitively rewrite the scripts of their lives.
I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside such driven and hard-working individuals at Echo Glen, and sincerely thank them for their partnership with Village Theatre. If you would like to volunteer at Echo Glen, please sign up on their website. https://www.echoglen.org/
When I first met with Rachel regarding the research for this production, we found ourselves ensnared in a litany of topics to explore within this extremely nuanced and complex script. The Spitfire Grill as a production has lent itself to both a screen and stage adaptation, both of which focus on different aspects of the story. After discussing our portrayal of the show, we decided to really emphasize two main aspects present throughout The Spitfire Grill. Those being the implications and significance of female incarceration, as well as the dynamics and sociology of small-town life. (Please see the dropdowns below)
As the Dramaturg for this show, I found my work cut out for me, and I am incredibly proud of the actors of the show who have been so susceptible to my work throughout the production process. Their tireless efforts to make the show as believable as possible has left me incredibly proud to attach my name to this project. I sincerely hope the audience will take note of the semantics, history, and implications of the show, as they all were included for specific reasons to augment production, as well as the hours of research that went into putting on The Spitfire Grill.
Enjoy the show!
Throughout my research, I found myself drawn to the numerous studies done on the United States Prison Industrial Complex, and its many failings as a body. The Prison Industrial Complex has received its fair share of criticism in recent years, detailed thoroughly in the 2016 documentary 13th, produced by Netflix. Upon revisiting this documentary, I was inspired to continue my research regarding the shortcomings of a system that continues to perpetuate a cycle of oppression of people of color, juveniles, and women incarcerated.
My research became extremely oriented around this specific issue, as the protagonist of The Spitfire Grill, Percy, was herself a victim of the Prison Industrial Complex. I found that it is a demonstrable fact that women who have experienced incarceration, on any level, are likely to be subjected to abuse, physically, sexually, and mentally.
I was left sickened and disillusioned with those who supposedly serve their communities as correctional officers. Through my findings, I realized that Percy’s history in prison is a reality that is shared by many women who have spent time in correctional facilities, and yet their stories are rarely acknowledged. I worked closely with the cast during the rehearsal process to illustrate how countless women just like Percy face societal obstacles upon their release from prison and help them understand and empathize with their stories. I am incredibly proud of the engagement from the cast, and their continual demonstration of understanding these harsh realities.
My dramaturgy research also heavily gravitated towards the true-to-life sociology of the Midwest. As someone who lived in the Midwest from 2019-2021, I was determined to enrich this production with as much midwestern authenticity as possible; from accents to culture, and everything in between.
One of my biggest resources was a book by Edward McClelland entitled “How to Speak Midwestern” which, as the title suggests, offers insight on organic verbal relations found in the Midwest. However, in addition to this, McClelland’s text gave me invaluable insight into the history of the Midwest and people who call that region home. The American Midwest is a rich cultural tapestry woven by European immigrants in the mid to late nineteenth century.
The fictional town of Gilead can truly be a stand in for many small rural towns which are commonly found in the Midwest. While this phenomenon of sparsely populated towns is one present in most rural areas of the country, Wisconsin itself is unique in that its history was built on the backs of German and Scandinavian immigrants. These immigration patterns pulled many people to Wisconsin, as well as Minnesota, and the Dakotas. These states helped to establish community ties within their small communities and helped those struggling with their new American lives in a new land. It was through these tight-knit immigrated towns that the midwestern dialect was born; a result of European speech patterns fusing with American English.
After establishing the cultural history of towns like Gilead, the next step in my work was demonstrating how Midwesterners, especially Wisconsinites, would interact organically. To make sure I was doing Wisconsinites justice, I conducted a deep dive into sociological studies done by several midwestern universities. I found the Midwest Sociological Society and its publications to be a huge influence on my research and incorporated many of their alumni’s publications in my presentations to the cast.
Midwesterners are often characterized through their outward kindness, selflessness, and compassion. While I can attest this to be true first-hand, I would be remiss to not mention the socioeconomic background of the Midwest and its implications on the story. Traditionally, the Midwest’s Christian conservative background with deep roots in traditional values ironically makes it difficult to integrate as someone from anywhere else in the country who does not align with these ideals. Someone like Percy for instance. I really worked with the cast to capture the nuances of the welcoming nature of the Midwest, in tandem with the distaste for those who may not “fit the mold” to enrich the production with as much authenticity as possible.
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Skills for Theatre… Skills for Life
To provide a personal development program for young people which uses theatre arts:
- To teach creativity and responsibility
- To encourage teamwork and personal integrity
- To foster self-esteem and appreciation for live theatre
Village Theatre KIDSTAGE believes that everyone benefits from an inclusive, multi-cultural environment of students, staff and programming. We welcome people of every ethnicity, race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, income and ability.