For Kids

Jared Bowen's Arts Ahead: Lows and Highs

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, April 12, 2012
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April 12, 2012

LONG_DAYS_JOUNREY

Will Lyman, Nicholas Dillenburg and Karen MacDonald In Long Day's Journey Into Night. Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.



BOSTON — Theater-goers won't want to miss this long-awaited performance of Eugene O'Neill's powerful examination of family, and families won't want to miss a night of delight under the Big Top.

Long Day's Journey Into Night
At the New Repertory Theatre through April 22nd

Eugene O’Neill's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, a semi-autobiographical drama, intimately examines the addictions, regrets, and deceits of the tormented Tyrone family. Through the course of a single heart-wrenching day, the members of the family confront one another as their blame, resentment, and animosity explodes.

BULLY
Documentary Film
Opens in theaters this Friday

Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, BULLY explores stories that represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. The filmmakers follow five kids and families over the course of a school year. Stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, the film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.

The film rating for BULLY recently changed from "R" to "PG-13".
Grandma
US Int'l Clown Hall of Fame inductee Barry Lubin as "Grandma" Photo: Bertrand Guay/ Big Apple Circus

Big Apple Circus: Dream Big
Under the Big Top on City Hall Plaza through May 13

Complete with a juggler, a mechanical doll who comes alive, spirited horses, frolicsome dogs, and a capybara and porcupine to perk up the sawdust party, families will enjoy a new season of acrobatics, comedy and magic. A singing Ringmistress and the Big Apple Circus Band share ringing melodies and Grandma, apogee of comical aspiration and mirthful joy, is back.

Bullying And Gay Teen Experience: Reflections Of A Rock Lobster

By Jared Bowen   |   Tuesday, March 6, 2012
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March 5, 2012

rocklobster

Felix Teich as ‘Paul Guilbert’ and Ian Shain as ‘Aaron Fricke’in the Boston Children's Theater production of Rock Lobster.

BOSTON — Everyone from Boston Mayor Tom Menino to actress Susan Sarandon have offered support.  But a new Boston Children’s Theatre production about an old controversy is proving to be divisive still. Reflections of a Rock Lobster is a play about a real-life high school teenager who sued to bring his boyfriend to the prom.
 
Aaron Fricke doesn’t know where the conviction came from when in 1980 he sued his Cumberland, Rhode Island high school to take his boyfriend to the prom. He does know what he felt like—a rock lobster.
 
“It’s a metaphor I used for growing up gay, which is the idea of an animal a creature with a firm shell for defense but no claws for offense,” Fricke said.
 
Fricke’s 1980 lawsuit catapulted him into national headlines, especially when he won, thereby creating a precedent still exercised in courtrooms to this day.
 
“When I found myself speaking to constitutional lawyers and a federal judge telling them what it was like, what the world looked like through the eyes of a gay teenager,” Fricke explained, “I realized I had a lot to say to people and I had a lot that needed to be learned, really. Because the world can be a scary place for gay kids.”
 
Now 32 years later, Fricke’s book about the experience, Reflections of a Rock Lobster, has been adapted for the stage, with a world premiere by Boston Children’s Theatre.  It’s a significant step, says the theater’s Artistic Director Burgess Clark.

“It seems nationally we’ve been getting an enormous amount of attention because we are the first children’s theater in the country to tackle the topics of bullying and the gay teen experience,” Clark said.
 
Clark, who also wrote and directs the play, has long wanted to adapt Rock Lobster, ever since reading Fricke’s book as a young gay man himself, when he says he couldn’t imagine having Fricke’s courage. So it’s not lost on Clark that an event three decades old is perhaps even more resonant today.
 
“I think it’s shocking in a different way,” Clark said. “I think the rash in teen suicides and things that have plagued the gay community. I don’t think it’s necessarily easier being a gay teen these days.”
 
Or even to show them. Rock Lobster presents the six-months leading up to Fricke’s prom, when he was bullied and literally pummeled by his peers. Clark says a number of administrators have declined to send students to the production. It’s true for star Ian Shaine’s own private school.
 
“Some of my teachers will be coming to opening night and some of my friends but the greater school wont’ be coming,” Shaine said. “I mean, they have their reasons.”
 
Beyond illustrating Fricke’s civil suit, the play plumbs the gay teen experience.  There are dates, conversations about relationships and sex.  Shaine, who plays Fricke, wants audiences to realize it’s simply every day life.
 
“There is very little difference between same sex relationships and heterosexual relationships. That everyone is human and we have human feelings like love that everyone shares together,” he said.
 
That sometimes can result in a happily ever after, as was the case with Aaron Fricke and his decidedly uneventful prom.
 
“The reason why the school administration said they weren’t going to allow us to go was they put it all on the kids. They said it was going to cause a riot. The kids were going to rise up and incite violence,” Fricke explained. “In fact, the kids showed them that it was not at what they planned. They had a good time with us, some of them shook our hands and said congratulations. Others just went off and had a good time on their own.”
 
Reflections of a Rock Lobster plays at the Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End through this Sunday.

Peep and the Big Wide World Takes the Cake!

Thursday, June 16, 2011
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Mommy blogger Barbara Jo recently shared an amazing Peep and the Big Wide World inspired cake on her blog, DoItYourself.org. Working with her 5 year old son Nathan, Barbara Jo created a scene from the preschool science program that includes Peep and Chirp’s tin can, Quack’s pond, and all three characters.

Check out this amazing mom’s creativity and get inspired by visiting Peep and the Big Wide World on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/official-peep-and-the-big-wide-world.


http://www.doitmyself.org/2011/01/peep-and-the-big-wide-world-cake.html

What’s So Super about Super Why Reading Camps?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
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Angela Santomero is a Founding Partner and
Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue
Enterprises LLC.

Related

A conversation with Angela Santomero, co-creator of the highly popular PBS Kids series Super Why.

Angela Santomero is a Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC, overseeing the research and creative development of all of the company’s groundbreaking children’s media projects, with a mission to bring educational entertainment to a whole new level. She is Co-Creator, Executive Producer, and Head Writer of the award-winning PBS KIDS series Super Why, the first preschool property to help build literacy skills through classic fairytales with an original twist and empowering young heroes. Ms. Santomero was also the Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for Nick Jr.’s landmark series, Blue’s Clues.

Ms. Santomero, please give us some background on the Super Why Reading Camps.

Taking place for the third consecutive summer, Super Why Reading Camps are interactive learning adventures that show children the power of reading and guide them as they play with letters, sounds, and words. Featuring a comprehensive curriculum developed by noted literacy experts, this year the program has been expanded from one to three weeks.  Each day the 4 to 5 year-old campers participate in a range of fun literacy lessons, games, crafts, exercise and music that will help them practice key strategies for reading success. The first week is all about “ Super Why and The Three Little Pigs” and some of the reading-powered activities include a “Lickety Letters Craft Activity,” where participants find the letters of their name and make a colorful sign; “Letter ID Bingo;” and the entertaining and educational “Freeze Dance Rhyming Game.”  On the last day of the week, campers invite their caregivers to come join in the literacy fun! Watch the short video above, which illustrates the power and appeal of the Super Why Reading Camps in action.
 
Why you did you decide to develop the Super Why Reading Camps?

We created the Super Why Reading Camps to bring the mission of the show one step further by working directly with preschoolers at a grassroots level to help them learn to read—and develop a lifelong love of books. As educators at heart, we were excited to find a way to bring our proven Super Why curriculum from the show and into classrooms. The amazing improvement in literacy skills we see from kids starting the program to when they leave is inspiring and uplifting for us. Kids get motivated, want to read, and truly learn!

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Stained Glass Cookies By Annie Copps

Monday, December 20, 2010
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If we get a solid snowstorm in December, then chances are, my friends get holiday cookies from me, so I am always stocked with butter, eggs, and sugar and I am always on the hunt for a special baked treat to prepare.

Since I was a child, stained glass cookies were always fascinating to me—you know, the cookies that hang from windows or holidays trees, the ones with the translucent, colorful center that looks like a stained glass window? They are so beautiful, I assumed they were for experts—turns out they're easier than you'd think.

Begin with a basic sugar dough of butter, sugar, a touch of molasses, vanilla extract and eggs. Roll out the dough and with cookie cutters cut the dough into stars, snowflakes, or diamonds—whatever you like, then using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies. Fill the space with a crushed hard candy and cut a hole at the top of the cookie, so you can hang them after they bake. Pop them in the oven and the candy melts for a beautiful stained glass effect. I hope you'll add these to your holiday cookie repertoire.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 3 to 4 dozen

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
20 hard candies (such as Jolly Ranchers or LifeSavers), preferably in several flavors

Directions
Heat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (aluminum foil may be used, but parchment paper works better with these cookies).

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated.

Add egg and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder over mixture; then, using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into mixture. Use electric mixer to blend just until flour is incorporated. Divide dough in half and flatten into two disks.

Wrap one disk in waxed paper and refrigerate while you work with the other disk. (Dough may be made up to this point and refrigerated up to 2 days.)

Place disk between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes, such as stars, snowflakes, diamonds, or circles.

Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies, reserving these center bits to add into extra dough. (You may also roll dough into long, thin ropes to make shapes. Do this on the baking sheets so you don't have to transfer the dough.)

Remove any wrappers on candies and separate them by color into plastic bags. Using a mallet or the side of a rolling pin, crush candies. (Note: If you use a wooden rolling pin, the candies may dent the wood.) Use a spoon to sprinkle the crushed candy into the hollowed-out centers of the cookies, filling to the edges. You can mix colors for a mottled effect.

If cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking. (Once cookies have cooled, thread string or festive ribbons through holes.)

Bake 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown and firm to the touch. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container.

Fine Feathered Friends

Friday, September 24, 2010
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About the Author
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 

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