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TRTC to livestream playwriting workshop for kids

Puppet Plays was created by Kristin Carlson to teach grade-school kids about writing plays.
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While school-aged children are staying home full time due to COVID-19, parents are likely looking for anything to occupy their kid’s time that may also provide some educational benefit.

Thunder River Theatre Company and its new venture — Thunderstream, is ready, willing and able to help fill that void. As such, they will livestream “Camp Thunderstream: Puppet Plays” on Wednesday at 11 a.m.

TRTC Puppet Plays is a playwriting series that will include four, short online episodes that introduce basic playwriting concepts for kids in grades 2–4. Each episode has an accompanying downloadable “playsheet” to get kids to write their own puppet play. Kids can then submit their work to TRTC and, depending on submissions, TRTC may create a small showing after the completion of the series.

Puppet Plays is the brainchild of Kristin Carlson — a playwright and Associate Artist at TRTC — whose original idea was to create an assembly for grade-school kids about writing plays that would include improv artists from the theater company. But following the governor’s stay-at-home order, TRTC Artistic Director Corey Simpson approached Carlson about using the theater company’s Thunderstream to instead teach kids at home.

“I gave it some thought and we had another conversation and I said, ‘Corey! Puppets!’ Carlson said. “So I just started writing, and what was going to be an assembly that we would hold at the school became a four-part ‘Writing Plays with Puppets’ series.

The show will begin with TRTC Consensual Improv! members Sonya Meyer and Gerald DeLisser doing a bit of improv with two of the puppets, and then Carlson and her husband Jeff Carlson, who will animate a puppet named “Iggy,” will take over for the teaching portion of the show.

“I’ll be trying to teach Iggy how to do these things, and he has imagined these two characters who are going to come in and act out all the things we’re messing around with,” Carlson said. “So part of it is scripted, and part of it is for the improv artists to go a little wild with ideas and give kids the idea that writing is fun, playwriting is really fun, and you can do it at home and all it takes is your imagination.

“It’s a little like public television meets some wild people in your living room.”

“Puppet Plays” will be livecast, but following the livecast it will be available to stream anytime on the TRTC website, so it will be available for parents to work into their home school days schedule.

Simpson said that TRTC is planning to launch more programming for kids on Thunderstream in the near future.

“We’re aware that during this time, a lot of people are sheltering in place,” he said. “We’re just really aware that parents are looking for fun and interesting things to do with their kids.”

jbear@postindependent.com


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