Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Schedule Update

Below is an updated schedule showing the change in dates:

Tues. April 7 - Dean
Tues. April 14 - Sherri & Dean
Tues. April 21 - Ann (Designer)
Thurs. April 23 - Sherri
Tues. April 28 - Sherri & Dean
Tues. May 5 - Sherri & Dean

Also just a reminder - if any questions arise during the week, please feel free to post them on the blog. We check the blog on a regular basis and can therefore address the questions as quickly as possible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Short Story

Here's goes... Below you will see a working draft of the opera for Scicluna's class. It contains little to no dialogue, but should prepare us for tomorrow.

Opera – Social Justice (Scicluna)


Come back from recess
Watches a movie about children and our social justice
As the time goes by, the children change positions showing how bored they are
We make the movie and it is shown on the projection screen, but the students are looking at their own TV
After the movies finishes, the teacher asks the class to go home and think about the movie
(Bell rings, kids are happy)

Scene II - Hockey Scene

· there are 8 kids playing hockey
· they are talking about how the movie was a waste of time and how they don’t care about the use of child soldiers
· the kid then scores a goal
· he puts his stick in the air to celebrate
· one of the kids says, “It would be cool to be a child soldier and have a gun and stuff.”
· all of a sudden the stick turns into a gun
· all the kids that were playing hockey are somewhere in Africa in the middle of a war
· They’re “boss” comes in and tells them to grab they’re guns. They are about to go fight. They are told they are going on a mission to check if there are bombs on the field. As they are going one kid says…..“This is horrible, I don’t want to die. I was wrong, it isn’t better here in Africa. These kids have it WAY worse than us. “Man I wish I was back in Canada!”

Scene III - Video game scene

Playing a video game in someone’s room. They start talking about how dumb the video was from class, and how child labour isn’t that big of an issue. They continued to complain and say, ‘It will be cool to have a job at such a young age.’ Then they are in a sweatshop in Africa. The boss starts barking orders at them, and they were dazed and didn’t know what was going on. They then kept on working, they didn’t work fast enough, which made their boss threaten to beat them. They were so scared and ‘Man I wish I could be back in Canada.”

Scene IV - Camping Scene

It all takes place at a campsite that evening. That night, the kids complain about the bugs and how cold it is all the time there. “It’s so cold here, in Africa it’s always warm. They don’t have it that bad, it would be cool to live in Africa.” The kids, as opposed to roasting marshmallows (water, food, supplies, etc.), which they had, these are all removed. They are now complaining about how hot it is, and they go for a drink and nothing is there. They ask someone walking by for water, they reply the nearest well is three miles away, but that water may be contaminated. Someone begins to feel ill, but they are no means to help, including cell phone. One student says, this really stinks, we have nothing to drink, no supplies, and someone who is really sick and there’s nothing we can do. ‘Man I wish I could be back in Canada.”

Scene V – The End

Kids come back to school from the weekend and they are talking to each in the classroom
Teacher asks them what they did over the weekend, and was their anything special they’d like to talk about.
They discuss their stories (optional), but they tell the teacher they want to make a difference, and choose to do a fundraiser to support the abolishment of child soldiers, child labour, and child labour.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day One!

Well, I've been at St. Marks' for three years with this program, and I'd have to say that the first sessions were some of the most productive and enjoyable to date. Everyone is getting really savvy about what works on stage and I think the story ideas have an incredible amount of dramatic potential.

To All Musicians ( and I know there are a lot of you.) Start thinking about the kind of music that would best tell your stories. If you would like to play anything for us all next week, that might get the creative juices flowing. And don't worry about writing it down if you can't. Play it by ear!

Looking forward to next week, Great work yesterday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Planning for Session Two

The following are just a few reminders for next week:
  • Everyone is to come prepared with their finished written version of their story so that we can begin the task of writing the lyrics
  • We will be starting the first session at 9:00 next Tuesday
  • We will work out an alternative date(s) for the week of April 14

Week One Summary

Well we had a fantastic first day. All of the classes had great energy and amazing ideas for their Operas. Dean and I were both thrilled with how well everyone participated in all aspects of the session. What a great start to the project!

The following is a brief summary of each of the classes Operas.

Ms. Moore's class
Theme/Working Title: School of Freaks

This story takes place in a school. One day the school is hit by a meteor which results in the girls becoming Vampires and the boys turning into Zombies and the school going into lock down. There is a great deal of conflict between both of the creature groups. Eventually, one of the Zombies and one of the Vampires re-kindle their best friend relationship that they had prior to turning into the creatures. This change in relationship acts as the catalyst for bringing the rest of the creatures together and becoming friends once again.

Mr. Scicluna's class
Theme: Social Justice

The story opens with a class sitting and watching a video illustrating the plight of many people in Africa. While watching the video the students express their disinterest, lack of connection, as well as a lack of understanding with those that are seen suffering, by complaining and expressing how useless they think the video is. The school day ends and the students leave for the day.

We then see three different scenarios in which the students are transported from their conventional, privileged lives into those of the children from the video. The three scenarios are:
  1. Kids playing hockey transformed into Child Soldiers
  2. Kids playing video games transformed into Child Labourers
  3. Kids on an outdoor adventure transformed into Children suffering from illness due to lack of Health Care

The final scene of the Opera illustrates the students coming back together with a new understanding of the plight of others and a determination to do something to help out.

Mr. Kennedy's class
Theme: Romantic Tragedy (almost)

This story takes place in a High School which is rife with cliques. The four cliques which play a roll in the Opera are the Nerds, Artsy Kids, Popular Kids, Jock/Cheerleaders. All of the groups only socialize with "their own kind". One day, however, a Nerdy boy and a Popular girl are made to work together on a school project. The boy and girl eventually find that even though they are from opposing cliques, they actually like each other. The rest of the members of the groups are surprised and angry and become set on finding ways in which to break up this relationship.

As the tension between the groups escalate, the Popular Kids and the Jock/Cheerleaders form an alliance as a way of pooling their strength. As well, the Nerds and the Artsy Kids form their own alliance. While the anger amongst the two bigger groups build, the Nerdy boy and Popular girl begin to question whether they should maintain their relationship. Eventually the anger reaches a breaking point in which there is a "face off" between the groups. The result is the injuring of both the Nerdy boy and a Popular girl.

All of the students are put into detention. While there, they have a chance to reflect on the damage that their actions caused. As they sit in despair the Nerdy boy and a Popular girl return. It is at this point that the cliques realize they must set aside their differences and learn to get along.

Ms. Sappong's class
Theme/Working Title:

This story begins in the present day at a funeral of a public bus driver; Mr. Louis. The funeral attendees are a very strange mix of people. Each of the people in turn places what appear to be very strange items upon Mr. Louis's grave. As the story unfolds we are taken into the past and the connection between these people and Mr. Louis is revealed. We are taken aboard Mr. Louis's bus route and discover how he came to know each of these people and how each of these people had been misunderstood in some manner.

The Loner - This is a guy who spent time in prison, he is currently homeless and he can't get a job because no one is willing to give him a second chance. When he enters the bus the other passengers respond with whispers, finger pointing, and moving as far away from him as possible. Mr. Louis is the only one to show any compassion to him. He does so by talking to The Loner and giving The Loner his own coat.

The Skateboarders - As soon as this group of skateboarders enter the bus the passengers respond to them very aggressively. They shout out things like "Get a proper pair of pants" and wrongly accuse The Skateboarders of misdeeds like graffiti. Mr. Louis intervenes by asking The Skateboarders what they were doing and discovers that The Skateboarders had been putting up posters to help raise money for cancer. Mr. Louis then gives them a donation/donation box.

The Immigrant Family - This is a family that is newly arrived from the Middle East. They enter the bus carrying luggage. The immediate response of the passengers is to call them Terrorists and accuse them of having a bomb in their cases. Once again, Mr. Louis begins to speak with the family and learns that they share a common language. As a way of helping out the family Mr. Louis gives them an English dictionary.

The story ends back at the funeral with each of the people expressing their gratitude to Mr. Louis and remarking on how it just takes one person to strongly impact your life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Introducing your designer!

A warm welcome to the designer for your Create an Opera project, Ann Barber.

Ann is the founder of Shadowland Theatre, an incredible organization based on the Toronto Island. The work is phenominal and incorporates mask, puppetry, collaborative creation, stilts, boats, lights, politics, communities, history and more!

She will be keeping track of your operas on the blog and will be in your classes on April 21st.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Project Schedule

Hello Everyone,

Below is a very brief outline of how Dean and I plan on organizing our time during the project. It lists the date, which artists will be present at the school, and an overview of what we aim to focus on. The focus of each session may change depending upon the needs of each individual class and what they accomplish within each session. As well as the primary focus for each session, we are also aiming to include general exercise/activities exploring vocal and movement work.
  1. Thursday March 26th - Dean & Sherri - focus on story writing
  2. Tuesday March 31st - Dean & Sherri - focus on converting story into lyrics
  3. Tuesday April 7th - Dean - focus on music
  4. Tuesday April 14th - Sherri - focus on movement/drama blocking, Character development through movement
  5. Thursday April 16th - Dean & Sherri - focus on starting to bring all the elements together & identifying any gaps/missing pieces, preliminary discussion on design ideas
  6. Tuesday April 21st - Designer (to be determined)
  7. Tuesday April 28th - Dean & Sherri - focus on 'smoothing out the edges', run through the pieces
  8. Tuesday May 5th - Dean & Sherri - Informal sharing of the Operas (if we're at that stage) or putting on final touches where necessary

Friday, March 6, 2009

Artists for 2009

Meet your Director:

Sherri Brass-Haas
holds both a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance and a Bachelor of Education degree. Her professional dance career spans more than 20 years. Included in Sherri’s work as an Artist-Educator is that of founder and Artistic Director of Movement Makers, Creative Movement artist for Arts for Children of Toronto, Ontario Arts Council funded Artist in Education, and Dance Lecturer at the City of Liverpool Community College in England. In addition to her work as an educator Sherri has worked as an independent dance artist, founding and performing with a United Kingdom-based company called The Moving Co. 2008 is Sherri’s first year as an Artist-Educator with the Canadian Opera Company.

Meet your Musical Director:

Dean Burry
was born in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1972, but grew up in the town of Gander. Following high school, Burry began studies as a saxophone major at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. In seeking ways to combine his love of theatre and music, he began composing operas and musicals. In his firsts three years at Mt.A, he wrote, produced and conducted three major dramatic musical works:Dean Burry was born in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1972, but grew up in the town of Gander. Following high school, Burry began studies as a saxophone major at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. In seeking ways to combine his love of theatre and music, he began composing operas and musicals. In his firsts three years at Mt.A, he wrote, produced and conducted three major dramatic musical works: The Resurrection, Joe and Mary Had a Baby and Unto the Earth: Vignettes of a War.
In 1998, while working as an educator with the Canadian Opera Company he was commissioned to write The Brothers Grimm. The opera has been seen by over 100,000 children across Canada since 2001 and has been produced in Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton. The Brothers Grimm is believed to be the most performed Canadian opera ever.
Other major works include Under the Night and Home and Away for Live Bait Theatre, Isis and the Seven Scorpions for the Canadian Opera Company and The Vinland Traveler for Newfoundland’s Opera Road Show. Burry’s operatic adaptation of The Hobbit, commissioned by the Canadian Children’s Opera Company in 2004 recently received its American premiere with a production by Sarasota Opera, and is being translated for an upcoming production in Hamburg, Germany.
Burry is currently working on Children of the Moon, a lost opera libretto written by Robertson Davies in 1983, but never set to music, The Mummers Masque for Toronto Masque Theatre, A Creature of Habit for Rising Tide Theatre in Newfoundland and Baby Kintyre a serial opera for CBC Radio.