Welcome to Kindergarten
Basement Arts at the University of Michigan
Performed February 5th, 2022
"The active and creative, living and life producing being of each person, reveals itself in the creative instinct of the child. All human education is bound up in the quiet and conscientious nurture of this instinct of activity; and in the ability of the child, true to this instinct, to be active."
I created Welcome to Kindergarten for Basement Arts at the University of Michigan, for the Designer Slot, meant to give design students a space to create design focused theatre.
I've long been inspired by the concepts behind the Froebel Gift's, that children should be brought up with a spatial understanding of the world, and that the artistic foundation of a child's education has equal importance to more academic subjects. But what really got me was learning through play, and playing as a way to learn.
I saw devisement of a dance show based around the gifts as a wonderful extension of this philosophy. In creating Welcome to Kindergarten we played, and learned, together.
The process that took Kindergarten from an idea on a white board to a realized show was 6 months and many sleepless nights. Like many projects, Kindergarten was hit with COVID scares and other issues. This resulted in the entire show being rechoreographed 2 weeks before opening. This condensed time frame required the insertion of several sections of improvised dance, as well as allowed us to create repeated shapes that the dancers use at different points within the narrative.
The piece includes 8 original pieces of music in a variety of styles, each corresponding to a different object and it's lesson within the greater scheme of the gifts, all composed by Ryo Kamibayashi.
The monologue sections between the music were not originally a part of the show, but when the show was restructured, we realized it had in some ways become a story of it's own creation so we leaned into that feeling. The Gifts are about learning through creation, and Kindergarten became about what we learned through the creation of it.
Director and Deviser Audrey Tieman
Composer and Cast Member Ryo Kamibayashi
Production Stage Manager Briana Barker
Stage Manager Ainsley Grace
Scenic and Graphic Designer Ryan Espitia
Lighting Designer Sydney Geysbeek
Costume Designer Mila McCoy
Prop Master Alex Li
Sounds Board Operator Miles Zoellick
Cast Member (Teacher) Kate Klassa
Cast Member and Choreographer David Midkiff
Photographer Ellie Vice @elviceart
Filmed by Exposure Production
Produced by Basement Arts