We said farewell this past weekend to participants in Near West Theatre’s summer kids’ program as they performed their original work, Angels and Demons, July 26, 28 and 29 at Cleveland’s West Side United Church of Christ. It completed a six-week process in which the 9- to 13-year-olds had worked at forming an ensemble while learning creative writing, acting, singing, poetry, stage combat and scenic arts under the leadership of Program Director Kelcie Dugger and a half-dozen instructors. Angels and Demons was 30 minutes of brief, connected scenes about real issues in the students’ own lives that had been discussed during the program: friendship, peer pressure, family support and tensions, bullying, being “different,” having dreams, and the competing voices of doubt and hope. Click here to see a full list of cast and staff.
The 19 girls and five boys came from diverse backgrounds. There were 20 kids from Cleveland, two from Westlake and one each from Lakewood and Rocky River. Nine were white, seven were Latino/a, three were African American, two were Asian American and three identified themselves as multiracial. Half were from families whose income is classified as “low” or “very low” in Greater Cleveland demographic studies.
Parents’ evaluations of “Kids Loud and Musical Organic Revue” are coming in and sounding positive. “I love how the focus of the play came from the kids and they were part of the writing,” said one. Said another: “It truly reflects what’s on the minds of the children. It helps them exorcise some of their worries and concerns about life in middle school, and life in middle school is hard!” And a third: “My child holds NWT staff near and dear to her heart. She watches their responses and behavior and emulates.”