Standing Ovation! DAM Summer Class Brings Art to the Stage

Standing Ovation! DAM Summer Class Brings Art to the Stage

For kids, an art museum can be a magical place, full of fascinating objects and exciting new discoveries. Last week, the 15 students in the DAM’s From Painting to Performance class had a unique chance to make that magic. In just four days, these kids brought art from the gallery to the stage, creating original plays inspired by museum artworks.

Lindsay Genshaft, manager of community and family programming at the DAM, along with Jessica Robblee and Mitch Slevc of Buntport Theater Company, took students through all the exciting stages of theatrical production—from script writing, to set design, to costume creation and, of course, plenty of rehearsal.

Taking their inspiration from Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz and from Sandy Skoglund’s Fox Games (closing soon!) the kids created their own live masterpiece, a series of four plays called Tales of Figures and Foxes. Each group of three to five students had the chance to stage their own production: Twins from Different Towns, G.A.R.ville, The Protectors, and The Red Surprise. The four days of rehearsal culminated in a final performance for friends, family, and visitors at July's Untitled.

“The entire reason for doing a class like this, merging performance with visual art, is that it gives these kids the closest possible connection to the artworks,” Lindsay Genshaft said. “It is really amazing to see them take ownership of their art and engage with it in a way that they might not be able to do outside the class.” Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theater Company agreed: “We want them to engage more actively with the art, not just looking at it but seeing it as source material for a story. We want them to walk in the shoes of the artist.”

Watching the plays develop, it is easy to see how the active engagement in a class like From Painting to Performance also cultivates students’ creativity. From the initial inspiration to the final curtain call, these plays were driven by the young performers. Throughout the week, students learned how to incorporate fun characters, a strong narrative, even creative effects like shadow puppetry into their one-of-a-kind performances. The end result? Four entertaining plays, 15 excellent performers, and a whole lot of fun.

One thing is for sure—after all that hard work, these young artists and their teachers deserve to take a bow!

See the infographic above for students’ favorite parts of From Painting to Performance, and check out the slideshow below for more behind-the-scenes photos.

For more fun, interactive programs like this one, be sure to check out the many museum activities for Kids and Families, like Family Backpacks, Create-n-Takes, CelebrARTE, and Foxy and Shmoxy: Art Detectives!

Erin Cousins is a program assistant for studio and artist programs in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. One of her favorite exhibitions that has been on view here is Joan Miró: Instinct & Imagination.

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