Friday, February 12, 2010

More Stories of Engagement

Chaz Brastow
Production Manager
Nathaniel would not speak at first. Through intervention he developed sign language to communicate his needs. It was frustrating for us, but especially for him. He would often cry because he had no vocabulary to vent. As he turned three he began to replace the signs with words.

People’s Light expanded their Summerstage program to include younger students just in time for Nathaniel. At first he didn’t want to participate, but quickly reversed his opinion after just a day with instructor Erin Weaver. He took ownership of the play development process and the team building exercises and utilized their lesson in his everyday interactions. He came back the next summer and the next. It was during this production that he caught the attention of Abbey, who watched him being so engaged. He was invited to audition for Getting Near to Baby.

It is a not an exaggeration to say that the play changed his life. His perceptions of the world have grown deeper and his relationships with teachers and students alike are more profound. Friends from his church in Frazer, his school in West Chester (Fern Hill Elementary), and his teammates from the West Chester United Soccer Club shared in the experience. Nathaniel had already been popular in school, but he became a leader. His public speaking and oral presentations are markedly enhanced and his writing presents a more compelling narrative. His ability to deconstruct books, movies, and plays is more illuminated as a result of his experience at People’s Light.

Tom Teti
Company Member
About twelve years ago, a young lad came to my teen class who was quite good, and a good boy. He told me that his Dad was interested in taking acting, perhaps he said he'd acted before. I met his father when he was picking him up one day. I was surprised that he was British. I gave him what information I knew, as I was not teaching adults at PLTC at that time. The boy was James Smith, his father was Gary. Gary went on to take class with Kathryn Petersen. In that connection they began to talk Panto. It resulted in Dick Whittington in our Out of the Box festival. Four years later, I meet a lawyer who tells me that she loved Dick Whittington so much that she always comes to the Panto on her birthday, and it has grown into a family event, from her twelve-year-old to her seventy-four-year-old mother and her sisters. One of the sisters has volunteered as an usher. She brought a friend to the theater who enrolled her daughters in classes. It gets passed on, if the welcome is real.