Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pie #7 - Renaye Leach of Playtime Productions Children's Theatre

This week's Pie-It-Forward pie recipient was Renaye Leach, Managing/Artistic Director of Playtime Productions Children's Theatre

Renaye Leach of Playtime Productions Children's Theatre

From the website, "For almost three decades, Playtime Productions Children's Theatre has been delighting audiences with its creative and spirited renditions of classic tales." If you've never been to a performance, make it a point to bring your family this fall's show. The yet-to-be-announced play will be performed in 16 venues in Dane County. Keep an eye out for the schedule here. Have a child who'd like to audition? Auditions will take place on a date in early September. (Information also available on the website.)

My own daughter was involved in Playtime from 2010 to 2013 which equates to 7 plays.
Hannah Nies - Sleeping Beauty Vine (2010) to Madame Pandora in The Red Shoes (2013).

I wrote this piece - "What Theatre Gives to a Kid" - back in November 2012. I think it describes how much Playtime has meant to our family.

What Theatre Gives a Kid
Even though some of the “good stuff” that Hannah has gained through the Playtime experience is impossible to measure, here are some things that I do know.
  • Being the “new kid,” Hannah learned that even in tight-knit groups, she could find her place and make new friends.
  • She became part of a team, and part of something bigger than herself.  Hannah now understands the expression of “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” No matter how many lines someone may have in a play, no part is more important than the others.
  • She has learned how to take care of, and be responsible for, two complete costumes and many accessories. Additionally, she learned how to handle two different roles within the same play, which required a wardrobe and a  make-up change.
  • The #1 fear of most adults is public speaking, and I am delighted to say that while Hannah has never had this issue, she learned to turn up the volume on her voice, and how to better enunciate her lines.
  • My daughter, who can be a people-pleasing perfectionist, has learned that mistakes can, and do happen, but the show must go on. Literally, I mean! She absorbed this adage when her fairy hat was knocked off on stage once, and a few other times, when she was introduced incorrectly as the wrong fairy. She learned to handle these challenges with grace and serenity.
  • She learned she loves talking to small children and giving autographs after the show!
  • Hannah received valuable instruction in dancing and singing. Often a soloist in the past, she learned how to blend her voice with other singers, and found out that it’s not always important to be the loudest.
  • She discovered that, as in real life, there’s a lot of “down time” and waiting, during play practice. While others ran their lines and practiced on stage, she found activities to amuse herself. She learned how to "be bored" and how to daydream.
  • Hannah  discovered what it means to make a commitment. Once she accepted the part of Violet, her practice schedule began immediately. Sometimes she had to give up other fun activities or time with her friends, in order to work on the play. She also knew she might have to be on stage when she didn’t feel 100% well. Commitment, whether it’s to play practice or later on to a spouse or a career, is another amazing life lesson that’s impossible to quantify.
  • Perhaps, most importantly, Hannah learned the fine art of being able to take constructive criticism, which is an ability that some adults have still not mastered. My daughter, who used to be incredibly (overly) sensitive, has now developed what Renaye would refer to as a “thick skin.” Being able to take direction, whether it’s from a play director or a future boss, is a necessary life skill.
I’ve probably missed some of the “good stuff” that my daughter has received from participating in Playtime Productions, but I believe that the benefits will continue to be revealed in the coming years.

I would recommend this experience to any theatre-loving child. I would recommend PTP to any parent who is looking to give their child a leg up in gaining these skills: responsibility, self-confidence, and maturity.

And, oh by the way, Hannah would add, “It’s so FUN, too!”
Thank you to Renaye and the incredible staff for the life lessons you've instilled in my daughter. Your influence is immeasurable and long-lasting and wonderul.

Thank you, as always, to Hubbard Avenue Diner for providing this week's pie, Duo of Silks.