By Kailey Burkhardt
Fantasy Playhouse and Children’s Theater Academy
The excited buzz of hundreds of third and fourth grade voices echoes across the cafeteria. Students sit anxiously awaiting the first actor to emerge from behind the black curtain on stage. They know they are here to see a play, but have no idea what to expect. Poarch Creek Courage, their teacher said it was called. Right now, that name doesn’t mean much. In an hour, it will take on an entirely new meaning.
These students are about to embark on a 40 minute journey that teaches the history of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ fight to become a federally recognized tribe. They will watch five actors work together to bring dozens of different characters to life while learning about the long term impact that unresolved social injustices can have on an entire Nation, Alabama’s own Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Through the power of performance, history will be brought to life in front of their very eyes.
Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater & Academy (FPCTA) is dedicated to providing access to theatre arts performances and learning opportunities to children across our region. Studies show that students who have access to theatre arts education are likely to be more confident, independent, goal oriented, and succeed academically.
Whether it’s participating as an audience member, student technician, or actor, involvement in the arts provides students the chance to learn “Life Skills Through Stage Skills.” These include: self confidence, public speaking, collaboration, active listening, teamwork, and empathy.
After being sidelined for two years due to the pandemic, FPCTA is relaunching its In School Touring Show program in Spring 2022. In addition to Poarch Creek Courage, FPCTA also offers Freedom Riders,teaching the history around the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, and Nick Nutrition and His Wonder Dog Fiber, teaching the importance of healthy eating and living. Each show encourages young audiences to be open minded to the world in which we live while we continue to grow, change, and learn from our mistakes.
In addition to bringing live theatre directly to the schools, FPCTA will offer public and student matinee performances of Alice in Wonderland at the VBC Playhouse, Feb. 18-20. One goal of this production is to be accessible to deaf and hearing impaired audiences by ensuring that each character in the play will be shadowed by an American Sign Language interpreter. Director Jacinda Swinehart states, “This is an exciting opportunity for us to share Fantasy’s magic with audiences that may be excluded from live theatre that doesn’t accommodate for hearing loss. Theatre is a love language and making it inclusive for all audiences and all abilities is an honor.”
For more information, please visit our website at www.fantasyplayhouse.org.