(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., July 19, 2017) — Youthful nostalgia can be invaluable when building bonds with children. Often, parents rely on fairy tales from their own childhood to create a bridge of communication.
This year, students in the Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW) at California State University, Northridge have set the stage for children and parents to strengthen their relationships at nearly a dozen live performances of “Into The Woods Jr.” and “The Lion King Jr.” scheduled throughout July.
Cast with students from grades seven to 12, performances will take place in CSUN’s Little Theatre and Campus Theatre inside Nordhoff Hall, located near the southwest corner of the university at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
Creating a setting that cultivates TADW involvement and supports a diverse learning environment is one of the many practices executive director Doug Kaback uses while training the students.
“We have kids with all sorts of backgrounds,” Kaback said. “It’s a very diverse group of students, and really a group of students that begins to find in each other a common point that builds a sense of unity, a sense of community and a sense of belonging, which we really stress.”
In addition to exposing children to live theater, Kaback underlined the importance of welcoming diverse audiences to the shows.
“The idea is to reach out to our community,” he said. “We want to make this theater experience really welcoming.”
Encouraging students and parents to learn about collaboration is part of the TADW experience, said Kaback. “They learn what it means to be a part of a team, how they fit in, how they are valued and how they are essential to the success of this team.”
“Into the Woods Jr.,” a TADW adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, is a fairy tale featuring characters including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (and his beanstalk) and the Witch.
This musical retells classic Brothers Grimm fables by centering on a baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the king’s festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk.
The second teenage-cast production is a one-of-a-kind musical being performed on CSUN’s Campus Theatre stage for the very first time. In “The Lion King Jr.,” students fill the roles of Simba, Rafiki, Timon and Pumbaa as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle and back again in an inspiring, coming-of-age tale that brings the African savanna to life.
TADW was initially founded as an activity for teenagers, and to call attention to the cultural resources available at what was then San Fernando Valley State College. Over the years, the workshop has grown into a nationally acclaimed drama program.
One of the nation’s oldest such programs, TADW immerses youth in the day-to-day reality of a professional theatrical production. Everything from lighting, costume and set design, to learning lines and choreography are rehearsed during a vigorous six weeks.
In the mornings, the teenagers attend classes in acting, voice and dance. They can choose electives in improvisation, musical theater, playwriting or the technical aspects of theater production. The afternoons are spent in rehearsal, building sets or putting together costumes and props.
In addition to the two plays, TADW will present its annual “10-Minute Play Festival,” where student playwrights explore the dreams and challenges of their lives in original, short plays. Students in the playwriting and improvisation electives collaborate to bring an idea from “age to stage” in just six weeks.
Performances of “Into The Woods Jr.” are scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 19, 20, 21 and 22 in CSUN’s Little Theatre inside Nordhoff Hall.
Performances of “The Lion King Jr.” are scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 19; and 11 a.m. on July 19, 20, and 21 in CSUN’s Campus Theatre, also in Nordhoff Hall.
The “10-Minute Play Festival” is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on July 20 and 21 in the Little Theatre.