Asolo Rep's Education and Engagement Team Bring Stories to Life

RocketKids Article

Pictured: Asolo Rep Teaching Artist Imani Williams performs Aaron Slater: Illustrated by Andrea Beatty at Activating Words at the Sarasota Art Museum's Free Second Sunday. Photo courtesy of Asolo Rep.

Last weekend, Asolo Repertory Theatre's Education and Engagement team held two workshops as part of their Sharing Stories program, encouraging families to bring literature to life through different methods of storytelling. Saturday's workshop took place at The Bishop Museum; Sunday's was held at the Sarasota Art Museum.

Each Sharing Stories event centers around a book or story, inviting language learners to explore together using their minds, bodies, and voices. Asolo Rep Teaching Artists leading the events are highly-qualified educators, talented performers, and incredible artists sharing a passion for teaching. Many hold advanced degrees and teaching certifications, while also having practical stage and film experience. They love to connect with the community, and work together to design workshops that are responsive to their audience and meaningful for families. Most of the workshops are focused on children ages 3-7—really honing in on connecting literacy and communication skills with movement and imagination, but often, older students and parents will join in. The storytelling artists are able to respond to and work with all ages in the room.

While the programs can be drop-off events, most of the time, parents choose to stay. “It's exciting to watch families experience stories together. Parents see their students' creativity blossom and students get to see their parents getting a chance to be silly,” says Sara Brunow, Asolo’s Muriel O’Neil Education and Engagement Director. “This is a new program for us, but it's work that our staff and teaching artists have been doing for many years. We love to bring storybooks into the work we do with young people.”

Each book used for the workshop is 'beloved' in some way. “Some are beloved because they are well-known, like What Do You Do with an Idea?, and some will be beloved because they are magical,” says Brunow. “We tend to choose the book based on where we are going and who we are working with. Favorites have been books by Matt de la Pena, Jon Klaasen, Mac Barnett, and so many more.”

The Sharing Stories program is an opportunity for the Education and Engagement team to connect with the community and to introduce theater in an accessible and meaningful way. “By starting with a book, we are automatically hitting at the heart of theater, which lies in stories,” adds Brunow. “We use our bodies, minds and voices to make stories come to life, connecting with literacy for English language learners. Finally, we invite young people and their families to create works of art, allowing them to make the story theirs and reflect on what they've just seen and heard. It's a fun, creative experience.”

Want to bring Sharing Stories into your community or classroom? Contact education@asolo.org, attention: Gaby.

Pictured: Asolo Rep Teaching Artist Imani Williams performs Aaron Slater: Illustrated by Andrea Beatty at Activating Words at the Sarasota Art Museum's Free Second Sunday. Photo courtesy of Asolo Rep.

To learn more about upcoming Sharing Stories events click here.

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