Friday, May 26, 2006

The Imagination as Foundation

Last Sunday was the Imaginary Festival, a big event hosted by Bella Winery, a gorgeous winery in Healdsburg. The festival raises money for scholarships to the Imagination Foundation, a wonderful children's acting workshop in town. The kids (ages 7 to 17) have been working since September on various performances, and they were all performed on Sunday.

Lest you think that pictures of someone else's kid's drama performance is -- well, less than fascinating, shall we say? -- I am posting them here because I was really impressed by the artistry and creativity of the props these kids were given.

The Imagination Foundation is a shoestring sort of nonprofit operation. There are two drama teachers, a husband/wife team who are energetic and great with kids and really creative and inspirational. They let the kids create stories and then build drama activities around them, so the kids write and design pretty much every part of what they perform.

Oh, they began the festival with a parade down the hillside toward the winery.

They walked toward a large tent, and the show began with 4 teenaged kids acting out little puppet-type stories from these four portable booths.

Can you see the kids' legs underneath each one? Each kid had a booth -- made, I think, from a very light wood frame, mounted on the shoulders with some sort of brace. The fabric was draped over the frame supports, so they could walk around and perform little individual shows with hand-held masks. They also appeared to hold up title cards. It was very cleverly done.

In Caroline's group, they performed a play which they had written from an ancient Chinese legend about how the four rivers of China were formed. (I'm proud to say that Caroline suggested this story and the group loved the idea.) What they accomplished with simple props was really interesting.

Here, the kids are being an ocean out of which dragons emerge. Those blue and white peaks were pieces of cardboard painted to look like ocean waves, so when the kids held them up and rocked them back and forth, it looked very water-like.

This next shot shows a dragon (made up of three kids, one holding the head and the other holding the tail) appealing to the Cloud Emporer to make it rain. The clouds were painted cardboard and the kids held them and gently rocked them to make the emporer's throne.

The dragon heads amazed me the most. You can't see it well in this next shot, I'm afraid, but it was made of rolled heavy paper, hinged to open where the jaw would be. It was so simple, yet so clearly a dragon head and so beautifully done. (Caroline is waving the yellow streamer tail of the dragon here.)

They did a great job and everyone loved the play. They also did little bits of Shakespeare, individual speeches or dialogues that were quite impressive. I especially liked the one kid -- who couldn't say his "R's" -- doing a bit from Hamlet. It was unintentionally hilarious.

And just so you can see the gorgeous vineyard setting, here's a shot of Caroline and her good buddy Christopher enjoying lunch after their big performance. We were sitting on a deck overlooking vineyards and was gorgeous. We grownups had paella (fresh cooked on the premises), field greens salad, and Bella's very lovely pinot noir.


  1. Oh, you just made me a little Sonoma County home sick - but not too much. We are going to check out the Oregon wine scene this week-end.

  2. Anonymous11:10 PM

    What a wonderful day!! The group looks incredibly creative.