Arts & Leisure

Opening Up that Door: The Robinson Players’ Stage for All Ages

I remember each moment so clearly: the seats in the theater, the view of the stage. The moments during the show that drew me in—the Beast transforming into a prince, the Cat in the Hat inviting me to a new story. It was all so exhilarating and awe-inspiring. I was six or seven, but even then I knew: I wanted to do and experience theater, to affect people through performance.

So I did. I have been involved in theater since I was six, when I attended my first theatrical summer camp at one of the big theater companies in my hometown. Since then, I have acted, directed, stage managed, helped build sets, designed posters, and put together costumes. Theater has been my second home and the space through which I have found most of my closest friends and greatest mentors. It has also revealed further interests for me in singing, dancing, writing, and graphic design.

Ask pretty much anyone involved in theater, on stage or off, and they will tell you a similar story about the magic of theater. Spreading our love of theater to others is almost second-nature to the life of theater artists; it is a community-driven art form. This shared passion drives the mission of Stages for All Ages.

Stages For All Ages, better known as the Short Term musical, is an annual project of the Robinson Players, Bates’ entirely student-run theater group on campus. During the first three weeks of Short Term, a full musical is mounted in Schaeffer Theater. The following week, it is performed for preschoolers and elementary schoolers from the Lewiston-Auburn community. This year’s show is Camp Rock: The Musical, co-directed by Rebecca Berger ’19 and Claire Sullivan ’19.

“I really love the music. I think that it’s really high-energy and what we find with the Short Term musical is usually that kids get really excited by the high-energy numbers,” Sullivan says about what drew them to the show. Berger agrees and loves the dance-heaviness of the piece, since she’s “always wanted to work on a show that’s just a lot of fun dances.”

In the professional world, both plays and musicals rehearse for about a month, and then perform for the same amount of time or longer. At Bates, shows normally get six to eight week rehearsal periods for three to five day runs. The intensity of the Short Term musical creates fast friendships as everyone works together to create the piece. The cast and crew spend long hours together rehearsing and then sharing meals afterwards.

But the musical is more than just a great bonding experience; it is an integral part of the Robinson Players’ community involvement. “Theater is such a wonderful thing to share because it’s a creative outlet. It can really help kids in a lot of different ways. It’s applicable to everything that they study, usually. I think [theater is] a fantastic way to help kids grow and really expand and develop their imagination,” Berger says.

As is customary with clubs at Bates, the Robinson Players community liaison works alongside the Harward Center and the Office of Student Life to plan community engagement events for the club. Throughout the past year, the Robinson Players has organized programs with the Montello Elementary School Drama Club and the Auburn Day School Drama Club as a way to further arts education in the surrounding community. In addition to the many benefits of integrating arts programs into children’s lives, such as better grades and increased creativity, these programs allow Bates students to have a direct impact on the Lewiston-Auburn community.

“It’s important for Bates students in every realm of their lives to be involved in the Lewiston-Auburn community. When we live here for four years, we should be members of the community and we shouldn’t just be Bates students. The Short Term musical is a really good way to kind of bring the resources of Bates into the community and it allows us to share the gifts we’ve been given as Bates students with a greater population,” Sullivan says.

Camp Rock will be performed in Shaeffer Theater on May14-17 for Lewiston’s younger audiences.

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