With the hash tag #nerdsrule, my pal Kathleen posted this supremely awesome graph her rockstar eight-year-old Stella made. The graph tallies up Stella’s Halloween booty — Snickers reigns over Kit Kat (I think) by a hair. Nerds do rule, especially proud nerd moms who empower their beautiful, clever nerd daughter’s DIY infographics!!
A week ago I celebrated a significant milestone – my 40th birthday. So far, it’s been looking like an exciting year. As one of my wishes, I’d like enlist your help.
I am on the board of directors for a truly unique and inspiring theatre program for young actors in our region. Portland Theatre Brigade provides professional theatre training for young people ages 7-14. Theatre Brigade not only teaches amazing acting skills (using improvisation through Spolin work – most of you know how important improv is to me!) – but it also empowers these young people to know their own voice and to be leaders and team players no matter their age and talent. I’ve seen first hand how transformational this program can be to these kids!
One of the most unique offerings in the program is the Portland Theatre Brigade School Tour. Our young actors tour to schools throughout the Portland metro area providing FREE theatre performances for 3,000 students each year. Not only is this an invaluable experience for the young members of Theatre Brigade, it also serves as an inspiring and lively experience for the student audiences they reach. And with the dwindling arts education resources in our schools, Theatre Brigade performances may be one of the few live theatre performances these students get all year.
As Portland Theatre Brigade gets their spring School Tour underway, I humbly ask
PLEASE HELP US RAISE $10,000 BY APRIL 23!
Through a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, as well as pledges from other donors, we’re already nearly halfway there.
Visit our website to donate online or send a check to Portland Theatre Brigade, PO Box 5823, Portland, OR 97228. Watch our thermometer fill up as donations come in!
As a special 40th birthday gift to me, I’m hoping that you’ll consider a gift of $40 or more towards this campaign. If 100 of you wonderful people pitched in $40 we’d be so close to our goal!! (Of course, we’ll be happy to accept donations of any size smaller or larger than $40.)
Anyone who donates to Theatre Brigade during this campaign will receive a link to a wonderful video about Portland Theatre Brigade created by one of the student alums.
Thanks for reading and thanks for all your support!!
PS – If you haven’t liked our Facebook page, do it now! Click here.
For those of you in the Portland area with school age children, there’s a great family event benefiting a great children’s theatre company (admittedly I’m biased, as I’m on Portland Theatre Brigade’s board of directors – but really it is wonderful!).
Sunday, November 21
Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK, Portland
Tickets: Kids under 16 $7, Adults $12
Pre-purchased tickets include grilled cheese and tomato soup! Purchase tickets here.
Sponsors: Curious Comedy Theater, The Waterbrook Studio, CheezyFlicks.com, Dave’s Killer Bread
The performers include two local actors and three professionals from across the country who all specialize in story theatre, having studied with the venerable Paul Sills, son of the godmother of improvisation Viola Spolin.
More details about the company and the dinner theatre event on the Portland Theatre Brigade website.
I am super excited about the Portland Theatre Brigade. I just joined them as Managing Director (very part-time for the fledgling organization), one of two new staffers. Jennifer Lanier has also joined the staff as East Brigade Director and Touring Manager. Adrienne Flagg, who also serves as Creative Director at the IFCC, is the PTB Artistic Director. Along with the Board of Directors, we’ve begun this year with a blast, having just finished casting this year’s company of 40 young actors/creators.
I was a young theatre geek back in the day. I studied early on at Beck Center for the Arts, a community theater in Lakewood, OH. From there I was empowered to do high school plays and a college tv show, on and on. Theatre unlocked in me this incredible passion and confidence. I truly believe it was a guiding force that continues to allow me to do the things I do, all of which I hope is always giving back to community.
The wonderful thing about PTB, is that the youth are empowered to take on a lot of the control and responsibility. We have student stage managers and they young actors choose the stories and write the plays that they want to perform. The training is based on the work of Viola Spolin, the fairy godmother of improvisation and games in theatre. The beauty of being Spolin-based, is that the young actors are encouraged to be generous, curious, open-minded and ensemble-centered. We’re working with the kids to encourage them to be good humans in how they interact in rehearsal and onstage, which follows that they also become great performers.
We have a couple of students that need some additional help with tuition. If you’re reading this and feel like you’d like to contribute, just let me know at toni [at] theatrebrigade.org. Here’s a letter we sent last week:
This weekend we’d like to offer you a very easy way to make a very big difference.
Theatre Brigade is enrolling now a fabulous group of new students for the upcoming season. We are very excited about the talent and diversity of these young people and we know they will be putting on a great show for the Portland community next spring.
But this year we also have an large number of very deserving children who’s families need some extra help paying tuition. Some of these parents are in exceedingly difficult circumstances, but they are dedicated to their children and desparately want them to have this opporunity.
Our scholarship fund is simply not adequate to meet the need – yet we can not bear to have to turn any of these children away. You can help.
Your donation of any amount, if made this weekend, will go directly to scholarship funding for this year’s students, allowing you to create an immediate impact in this community.
As little as $5 will help us help these children experience the benefits of Portland Brigade Membership.
$15 pays for one week of Brigade
$66 pays for one month
$285 provides one standard partial scholarship
$600 allows a poverty-affected child to participate for the full year
These children can not wait for the economy to improve. But you don’t have to have a lot to spare to be able to make a big difference in their lives. Please help today in whatever way you can.
Last week I had the pleasure of snowboarding for the first time in two years. I’m volunteering with Matt’s org Chill. Funded in large part by Burton Snowboards, Chill brings Portland teens up to Mt. Hood to teach them life lessons, such as persistence and responsibility, in the guise of snowboarding. Matt’s working with a bunch of different amazing Portland agencies dedicated to youth empowerment, including Metropolitan Family Services, New Avenues for Youth, El Programa Hispano, IRCO, Open Meadow and a bunch of other schools and organizations.
So, last Friday I drove up to Timberline early with a bunch of the other volunteers – Rico, Scott and Daley. It was a gorgeous and warm-ish day. We had time for a bunch of awesome runs, then Scott, Daley and I decided to take one of the long trails (2+ miles) directly to Government Camp (sort of illegal and out of bounds, but very cool!) where we were to meet up with the busload of kids to help them gear up (Burton provides snowboards, boots, jackets etc for all the kids and their chaperones) for the day. Once we got everyone geared up we hit the mountain. After a day of riding I was pretty whipped, but it was energizing for me to hang with some of the kids. I was drawn to the kids who were having a harder time because I wanted to help keep their spirits up and not let them give up when they got frustrated. Plus it’s just a pleasure to connect one-on-one with these teenagers, as I don’t necessarily have many other opportunities to hang with teens. I’m back with them tomorrow and I can’t wait!
Last night a bunch of us went to see our friend Jaime in a show at Milagro Theatre called Bodas de Sangre or Blood Wedding written by the famed Federico Garcia Lorca. As you might gather from the title, there was certainly some drama and intensity to the piece. Themes running through included death, birth, destiny, history, love and lust. In general, I thought the Olga Sanchez (the show’s Director, and also Milagro’s Artistic Director) did a fine job putting this together. The staging was inventive and poetic. Better known as a poet, Lorca’s words are evocative and brimming with symbolism. A highlight for me was just post-intermission. The angry wedding crowd is in the midst of searching for the runaway bride and her lover. It reminded me of a Greek chorus with the Moon spouting incantations and Death lording over with foreboding. The staging was simple, elegant and dreamy. I believe this was the first play I’ve watched in another language with supertitles. Very much list viewing a foreign film with subtitles. Effective enough, but sometimes I missed some of the action and other times my timing in reading was off. All in all, though it was a lovely experience and I look forward to checking out more bilingual shows at the Milagro.
When I called our friends Bryce and Liz tonight to see if they wanted to meet up with us to see Juno, they laughed because they already has planned to go the the same 5:30 showing at the local 2nd run theatre around the corner Cine Magic. So we met up and found some seats in the well worn-theatre, just in time to see a preview for some lame-looking Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes vehicle. Admittedly, I have never actually seen Colin Farrell in a movie, and yes, I’ve chosen to stereotype him as a H’wood dumb party boy who probably has not much talent. Anyhoo onto the feature here, Juno. Well, I thought it was adorable. A feel good movie, but in that quirky, well-written, well-performed, indie film kinda way. Kudos to Diablo Cody for a delightful, truly gal-power script. It’s just amazingly refreshing to see such robust, complex characters in a pretty typical coming of age story. Juno, played spot-on by Ellen Page, plays a teen who accidentally gets pregnant by her best friend Bleeker (the always awkwardly charming Michael Cera, the next Owen Wilson?). And that’s it. We follow her journey from pregnancy through birth. And in that time we meet some pretty stellar characters, each of which is at times odd, sweet, dumb, brilliant and just plain old regular. Great performances include Allison Janney, Jason Bateman and JK Simmons. (Jennifer Garner was the weakest link in my opinion, nothing surprising there.) You might sympathize, you might cringe, you’ll certainly laugh and yes, you might even tear up (I admit, I did). Check this one out for sure.