‘The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon’: BBAC summer youth programs end, with veteran youth production
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Since its founding 10 years ago, the Black Box Arts Center has invested in local youth’s artistic abilities, through its summer youth programming.
With many of the nonprofit organization’s youth now having extensive performance experience, BBAC decided to offer a new program this summer, The Master Players to give some of its most talented youth a new growth opportunity.
“It’s a little bit like a transition into doing theater elsewhere,” said BBAC Artistic and Managing Director Laura Bakin. “If I were surprised by anything, it was that I expected they would need more help — and they didn’t.”
The program culminated this weekend, with performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the first act of “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.” According to Bakin, in recent years she had discussed her idea of allowing the youth to self-produce and perform a play, and this year, plans for the idea fell into place after her 18-year-old son, Donovan Bakin, volunteered to direct the play.
“He’s the catalyst for it actually happening. There’s more people interested in acting than in directing,” Laura said, mentioning cast and crew members had to have had previous experience with BBAC and be between the ages of 14 and 21. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but it didn’t happen until a lot of the more experienced kids in the program came to me and said, ‘We think we’re ready.’ They’ve put it all together and don’t an amazing job.”
For Donovan, directing the play cemented in his mind his preference for behind-the-scenes work.
“Quite possibly the greatest challenge for me, was to direct this. I had seen many people who I had admired directing, and wanted to give it a try. I assistant directed a few shows before this, so I had some experience, but this is the first time I’ve directed on my own,” Donovan said, mentioning he selected the play and auditioned the cast, as part of the process. “Working with others of similar ages helps me to grow, because I’m challenged to work off of them. If you’re trying to work with someone more experienced or less experienced than you, that can hinder the growth experience.”
The Master Players ran for six weeks, with four weeks of rehearsals. While the rehearsal time was much shorter than for most plays, the troupe’s experience and familiarity with each other simplified the learning process. The company members included actress Brigid Bakin, sound technician Leena Bangit, lighting technician Lindsey Bangit, actor Aidan Bohlander, actress Meredith Crenshaw, actress Cami Mooney, actress Elouane Rogers, actress Olivia Warburton and assistant stage manager Jamie Welch. Laura served as mentor and stage manager for the production.
Brigid, who is a junior theater arts major at Ave Maria University, said she was excited to join The Master Players, but saddened because she would be aging out of the program this year.
“I’m 21, so this is my one-and-only year I can do it. It’s sad, but I’ll come back to see them perform again,” Brigid said, mentioning she has performed for 11 years with BBAC. “The benefit of the youth-led production, is that it’s collaborative and teaches us a lot about leadership. We take on a whole lot of responsibility and do all the work.”
To learn more about BBAC, visit www.blackboxartscenter.org.