The ACAP PlayMakers have been part of the Waukesha Civic Theatre family since 2006 starting with a meeting with John Cramer to discuss how people with disabilities could get involved in some way with the Theatre.
“We have our PlayMakers program that no one is currently operating since the two creators of that program retired. Why don’t you start with that.”
Us run a theatre program? Nevertheless, John put his faith in us (and a lot of moral and professional support) and here we are 20 shows later.
As people have heard about our adaptive theatre work, many more people have joined our troupe. Starting out with 8 people, we now have over 30 people regularly involved in the program (and that’s not including the many community actors that play supporting roles in the cast). As we continue to grow, we are running out of space on stage!
That’s where our idea for a film production came from: looking for a way to include more people, given the limited space available at the Theatre. We figured, if we could create and capture smaller groupings of people on film, and string them all together in a larger story, we would achieve that end.
So we are currently learning from scratch the ins and outs of movie making. Join us on Saturday, July 15th to see the final product – Oh, Henry: A Double Feature! Here’s hoping that 20 productions from now, we will be as successful as the ACAP PlayMakers venture has been!
Well, we are right in the middle of our latest outreach offering – Lights! Camera! Action! with the ACAP PlayMakers. Only this time, there is a twist. The PlayMakers are playing the role of video editor/director. We’ve never offered something like this before, and so far the results have been outstanding!
Let me back up for a minute and give you a quick history here. Last year, Matt Huebsch and I taught Lights! Camera! Action! (LCA) for the ACAP PlayMakers. LCA is an on-camera acting class that has been a part of the A.C.T. program for years. The ACAP PlayMakers are a community partner that has performed at Civic for years. I guess it was only a matter of time before these two met!
The PlayMakers are an inclusive group of performers that feature performers with and without disabilities. It gives a voice to performers who might not otherwise get the opportunity. But even while being so inclusive, there were still some members who were not able to participate in a stage production. That’s where LCA came in. As you well know, acting on camera and acting on stage are two very different skill sets, and some of ACAP’s members were more suited to have their voice heard on camera instead of the stage.
Matt and I worked with the group for six weeks, writing and filming a series of scenes that showcased some of the hidden talents of the group. It was a fun and unique way to show what a great sense of humor these guys have. They love to perform, and it showed in every frame of the video.
This year, we decided to take it one step further and shift the focus. Instead of focusing on the acting, we put the PlayMakers in charge of the directing and editing. A beginner’s course for how to put a movie together. Matt and I filmed ourselves in a short scene together, filming multiple takes and multiple “moods” of each scene. We created a very loose template for the video, with a lot of options for our editors to choose from. Starting Week 1, we worked with the group to give them an understanding of the tools and concepts of video editing, sound and visual effects. As the weeks have gone on, members of the group have become more proficient in piecing their videos together.
Think of it as a choose-your-own-ending kind of book, except in video form. The PlayMakers work with the footage we provided and piece together scenes that are coherent and follow a logical path (Ok, full disclosure here – sometimes the videos are extraordinarily silly and don’t make much sense, but that’s part of the fun of learning how to do all this!).
To give you an example of how things have been going, there is a scene in which I appear at the door of a home. We filmed me doing several versions of this, and even filmed a dog in place of me. Lorraine, a longtime PlayMaker who has enjoyed poking gentle fun at me for years, wanted to find a way, through the magic of editing, to turn me into the dog. Did I say “wanted to”? I meant “insisted.” We worked together for an entire class, figuring out how we could make this happen. And by the end, sure enough, I was a dog! Thanks, Lorraine.
If this class were to just stand alone, it would be an enjoyable six weeks where we all got to learn something. However, the hope is that this can be a starting point for video to play a more prominent role in how the ACAP PlayMakers continue to help their members find their own voices, their own stories to tell. This is in no way going to replace the excellent stage work they do, it is going to add to it. Classes like this lay the groundwork for an idea that big. It all starts somewhere. And in our case, it started with my friend Lorraine turning me into a dog.
Education & Outreach Administrator
By Katherine Simon
Waukesha Civic Theatre’s 2015-2016 season saw some exciting new additions to the calendar, including the PIX Flix Movie Series, our very own season-long film series that’s bringing the Silver Screen back to the PIX. Over the course of the season, we bring you 12 different movies, each with their own unique connection to the live productions and events taking place here at the PIX.
As this was WCT’s first time doing something like this, I quickly realized the first thing I would need were some guidelines. For this and the coming season, I have operated under four relatively loose restrictions:
- To include as many people as possible in this exciting new endeavor, the movies would not be rated anything higher than PG.
- The films would somehow compliment the live offerings of the theatre at the time of the screening.
- Whenever possible, the movies would not exceed two hours in length (there are a few, rare exceptions, of course).
- The series itself would be a mix of movies from across decades and genres.
Some choices were easy, like the very first movie of the season. I knew our first should be a first, and, as Toy Story was turning 20, it seemed only logical, to my mind, to choose the first feature length, computer animated film as our first offering.
During the parts of the calendar when we don’t have a show running, we always offer Academy at Civic Theatre sessions. As such, I wanted to program movies for the whole family. Finding Nemo helped round out the summer, and Happy Feet accompanies the frigid January temperatures.
For the bulk of the calendar, though, I tried to choose movies that would augment the shows being produced at the time. Some are obvious choices, like the pairing of Leading Ladies and Some Like It Hot in March, or Cinderella’s Fella and Enchanted in April. Some are less so and rely on thematic ties, like September’s pairing of An American In Paris and A Little Night Music, which shared the interplay of social and economic classes in a European setting. Or the varied perspectives on love brought to the stage and screen by Almost, Maine and Breakfast At Tiffany’s in February. Some not only matched the mainstage shows, but also the time of year, like Hocus Pocus (October) and Elf (December).
Most of the films also match their respective live theatre pairings in genre. The Turn Of The Screw and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane chilled us in November. May will find us tapping our toes to musicals loosely based on real people and events with The Harvey Girls and Annie Get Your Gun. In June, we’ll finish the season laughing at the British farce of The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Fawlty Towers.
Covering genres ranging from thriller to musical to comedy and 61 years of film history, the PIX Flix Movie Series seeks to enhance your Waukesha Civic Theatre experience by bringing movies back to the PIX. Movies are screened one Monday a month at 6:30 pm and tickets are only $5. See you at the Theatre!