Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hats and Hot Cocoa: Fancy Nancy Holiday Tea

The only thing we at BACT love more than Fancy Nancy is drinking hot chocolate with her!  Last month, some very special fans and donors enjoyed a cup of hot cocoa and a behind the scenes talk with Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas creative team members costume designer, Amy Bobeda, and director, Hannah Dworkin.

Hannah presented the model box--a tiny version of the set, and explained the role of director, making comparisons to the responsibilities of a teacher managing a classroom.  She demonstrated how the scenes shift from store to living room, bedroom to neighbor's house.  Amy displayed several mood boards--a designer's tool for conveying mood, color, and fabric ideas, while explaining the challenges of buying costumes rather than buying clothes, especially for adults playing children.

Generously hosted by Revival Bar and Kitchen (which is family friendly and now open for brunch!), families enjoyed delicious treats, cocoa with extra marshmallows, and when they weren't snacking crafted fun foam wreathes to take home. 

After the presentation and "tea," guests were surprised by a special appearance by Fancy Nancy herself!  They struck their fanciest poses while comparing boas, tiaras, and fascinators--a fancy word for "tiny hat."

Thanks to all those fancy and fabulous guests who came out for what we're hoping is our first annual Fancy Nancy Tea Party, and to our friends at Revial Bar and Kitchen for the scrumptious treats!

If you're interested in future special events, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on social media!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wheels on the Bus: An Actor's Perspective

Here's a post from Salim Razawi a familiar face from BACT shows like Five Little Monkeys, Rickshaw Girl, and our school tour on safety, Rock the Block.  Salim is an East Bay TYA educator and director, but Wheels on the Bus is his first production for the very young. Here he is to help us understand the value of theatre for the very young. 
Salim Razawi

When I was asked to be a part of Wheels on the Bus I can honestly say I was a bit hesitant. Although I do a lot of TYA, I had no prior experience in theatre for the very young and it was a nerve-wracking gig, but it has been an absolute pleasure. 
Wheels on the Bus Theatre for the Very Young

Wheels on the Bus takes the audience on an imaginary bus for an interactive journey that examines all manners of things that go around.

Theatre for the Very Young Wheels on the Bus

 As the bus driver, I invite the kids to patriciate in the show in whatever way they seem fit and they truly take this to heart. One pivotal point in the show is when the bus breaks down, as the driver I look inside and see giant gears that have stopped working, so we bring mini versions of the gears to the kids and ask them if they could help us make them go around. There are many interactive points in the show and sometimes we invite the kids to join us on stage to be an airplane with us, or help us put some round toppings on the pizza we are making. 

During one of my favorite performances, we invited all the kids to come up and dance like airplanes with us. 

In a sold-out house of 45 patrons only one little girl came up, but she took center stage and owned her airplane. 

Having this kind of interaction does come with its challenges, sometime a child or two may wander backstage or take the prop that we are about to use, but rather than reprimanding or saying no to them we invite them and ask them questions about said props. One time a child saw our sound system with volume control knobs, so, during a very loud bus traveling sound cue, he decided he wanted to see how those knobs worked and turned the volume on blast!  Luckily, I was able to adjust the sound quickly on my handy-dandy iPod that I keep on my arm throughout the show. 

This kind of kinetic learning is a huge part of why TVYA matter. 

I believe this work is so important, has great cognitive benefits for the developing and curious minds, and is so engaging and mesmerizing for the very young. I am one happy bus driver!

Thanks Salim, for sharing your thoughts, and for driving that school bus--forty toddlers can't be easy!

There are still some seats available for our season of Theatre for the Very Young, get them before they are gone! 

Here are some other great articles on the importance of Theatre for the Very Young:

Children's Fairyland: Theatre for the Very Young

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pippi Longstocking: What is a Swedish Coffee Party?

A wonderful scene in the musical, Pippi Longstocking, and a cornerstone in Swedish culture, the coffee party is a foreign concept to Americans. 

Pippi Longstocking Coffee Party

What is a coffee party?

Unlike the multitude of tea parties featuring outfits from the dress up box and American Girl doll or teddy bear guests, the coffee party offers the Swedish alternative to the art of enjoying a beverage with friends.

Often called a Fika, coffee parties are a coffee break that involves drinking coffee, tea, or juice and eating some sort of sweet treat like a cinnamon roll or open faced sandwich.  There are often two fikas taken in a work day, giving employees the chance to catch up with each other over a beverage and snack.  Sweden mandates employees receive two fika breaks a day, and unlike American coffee breaks, employees won't be found glued to their phones or laptops--these breaks are purely for socializing.

Coffee Party

Similarly to American customs, a fika can also serve as a casual date.  Fikas can be held in homes or cafes.  There are even fika specials on train cars for those traveling in Sweden!  Clearly they take their coffee breaks very seriously.

The word fika is both an noun and a verb in Swedish.  You can drink fika, as well as be asked to fika with a coworker!

Unlike the American desire to consume caffeine as quickly as possible with drive through Starbucks and double shot espresso in a can, fika is less about indulging in caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks, and more about taking time for yourself, twice a day to slow down, take a break, and enjoy the little pleasures of living.  Fika is the perfect excuse to reconnect with yourself and others.

Thinking of incorporating fika into your life? Here are some amazing recipes for fika treats. 

Want to read even more about fika? Here's the book for you!

And don't forget to see a coffee party in action this spring! Pippi runs January 21-March 19.  Click for tickets.