CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gemini Children's Theater - Making Magic for Young Audiences

Pittsburgh in the Round: Jill Jeffrey was a like many young actors, making the rounds at auditions and giving little thought to children’s theater–until she stepped on stage in Journey Back to Oz at Gemini Theater Company in 2004.

“I had a strong background in sketch comedy and improvisation,” says Jeffrey. “After getting to know Dennis Palko and Lani Cerveris-Cataldi, the founders and artistic directors of the company, I saw how amazing their creative “duo” was, and I realized how important theater for young audiences was for families.”


Delaney Johnson said...

I have had a passion for children's theatre since I first began to explore the world of theatre in middle school. Children's Theatre is such an amazing way for me to combine my love of theatre and my passion for child development and behavior. I am able to create art while helping children partake and experience that art in a way that helps them learn about and take care of themselves. That passion allowed me to thoroughly enjoy this article and all the work that Gemini Children's Theatre is doing for the community. I especially enjoyed when the article said "And children are our best critics; they let you know if you are doing a ‘good job’ or not as a character", because it is a very true comment. Children trust endlessly and they have a wonder and power to believe in the impossible, but they are also very inquisitive and choose to poke holes in everything. The key to successful Children's Theatre is inviting that speculative nature and allowing it to shape your show or character.

Annie Scheuermann said...

Children's Theater I think is one of the most important things in the entertainment industry, and in a child's life. I worked with children for many years, and while they can't grasp works like Beckett and Shakespeare, just working on Disney shows teaches them so much discipline and confidence. The author mentions children as some of the best audience members, which I completely agree with. Whenever I have been on a production with a school audience their is so much energy in the room that is just not the same with a house full of adults. I agree that they force actors to be completely in character, because all they see are the character and unaware of the idea of a actor pretending to be someone else. Of course, what we do is pricey and these kinds of programs like Gemini Theater are not easily available for everyone, and I hope there will be a time where all children can have the opportunity but realistically it probably wont be any time soon.

Rebecca Meckler said...

I’m always surprised when theater companies make children stories more child friendly. It makes me think back to when I heard these stories, which was not very long ago. I don’t feel as though hearing a version Snow White’s story where Snow White is chased into the forest to prevent being attacked negatively impacted my life. However, my parents also read my child friendly versions of the original stories. I didn’t read the Grimm versions of the fairytales until I was older and started to ask parents about the original, darker versions. I feel that a cultural history is written into these tales and that the history gets written over when we change these tales. That is not meant to be a good thing or a bad thing, but rather something that happens. Nevertheless, I think that Gemini children’s theater sounds like a wonderful company that tries to make children’s theater fun and accessible to everyone.

Alexa James-Cardenas said...

Growing up with doing theatre all my life, since I was 4 years old actually, I honestly believe that, as a kid, if you haven’t done at least one production, it is a huge disservice to yourself Doesn’t really matter whether you like it or not, what matters is what you get out of it, and I think the main thing is, no matter how many years or if you have only done it right, putting yourself in a vulnerable place and stepping in the life/background/ journey of a character. The whole surreal process, the hard work that goes into design, tech, and learning lines (because other people are counting on you), and the anxiety of opening day closing in, all contributes to the experience of vulnerability. I know that now when talking about my early theater days, it always seems a bit novice and trivial, but really it changes people, not necessarily big, but it is the small subtle things that can make the biggest impacts in people’s lives.