Thank You, Reba!

Beauty and the Beast dancing
Emma as Bella and Gabe Walker as the prince in Beauty and the Beast.

Emma Cooper is an actor who first appeared on the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine stage last fall as Bella in Beauty and the Beast. In the past year, she’s spent countless hours here rehearsing and performing with friends and peers under the guidance of our Theatre Artistic Director, Reba Short. Emma wrote this essay for a school assignment this spring and shared it with Reba and the actors in the Youth Voices on Stage project (learn more about it here or here). Reba was very moved and shared it with me, and I wanted to share it with you – Emma writes so eloquently of the very special experience our actors have here. If you or someone you know would like to have an experience like Emma’s, we have an audition workshop this week and auditions for Little Red Riding Hood next Wednesday, June 8.

Emma writes:

When you’re a child magic is everywhere. Things become what they aren’t. A boulder becomes a fortress for a fairy army, a bumble bee a fairy prince’s noble steed. Mermaids frolic in the frothy waves at the beach and terrible monsters lurk in woods. Anything is possible. You can fly, become invisible and even become a cat. It all happens. Then, a strange phenomenon called “growing up” occurs. 

Boulders begin to look like really big rocks. Bumble bees become foul pests who sting. The waves don’t seem that imposing and the mermaids are really just loose pieces of seaweed. Flying, it happens, but it’s expensive. Where does all the magic go? We become cynical and hardened. We don’t stop to smell the flowers and to marvel at the beautiful world we live in. Everything has to be fast, grown-up, scientific and chic. 

Reba with Rabbit cast
Reba (standing, left) with members of the cast of The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.

I get tired of this. This fast moving society we live in. I want to stop and smell the flowers, to marvel at a rock, see the good in a bumble bee! But it’s hard to unravel yourself. To get off of Faceook and sit outside, to stop thinking about your future and be awed by the present. 

I’ve found someone who helps me do this, a grown-up none the less. Her name is Reba Short and she is the director of the Children’s Theater of Maine. When I heard about acting in your shows, I was thrilled. It’s hard to find theaters that do straight shows, non-musicals, for teens in Maine. I remember thinking “I’m so excited; this will look great on college applications! And, I’m getting experience for an acting career!” That IS true and it’s one of the perks of the theater. But when I participated in my first show, Beauty and the Beast, I realized that that wasn’t what I valued the most. I began to marvel again. That childlike wonder came back. I found myself questioning if an angsty prince-turned-Beast really DID live in the woods. Were those mermaids I saw smiling at me? Wait, are those troll tracks?! Smell these flowers! That was the most rewarding thing you could have ever given me Reba.

I remember one time in Beauty and the Beast. Gabe was having a hard time doing the characterization during a scene. You decided that we had to sing our lines out to each other. The combination was one of Phantom of the Opera meets Beauty and the Beast meets a couple of bad singers. It was one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever done and I thank you for it!

Emma in a Youth Voices Onstage workshop at East End Community School
Emma at East End Community School leading a group discussion as part of the Youth Voices Onstage project.

In the Youth Voices project that we’ve been doing it’s such a pleasure to work with you. I know that you’ve taught us all to question our actions. When we go into schools the little kids adore you. They hang on to your every word, mesmerized. I know you’re probably going to say that you’re the one that is supposed to be thanking us, because we’re really the people who do the acting. You’re wrong. Without you this project would have not been possible. You’ve not only helped these little kids to do acts of kindness, you’ve helped us. You’ve made it so that we could all heal from wounds that were inflicted upon us by mean things people have done or said. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that working with you on this has been such a pleasure and honor.

We are so blessed to have you in our lives. You’ve taught us to see the fortress in a boulder, the smiling mermaids in the waves, to stop and smell the flowers. To cherish life and everything in it. To slow down and be awed. To find magic in the world. And most important of all to imagine and hope.

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: Grouse Mountain & Live City

Courtney and Lauren explore Grouse Mountain and Live City for this next journal entry. I also have some exciting news! Tomorrow, Friday, February 26, from 10:30-11:30am we are celebrating the Winter Olympics at the Museum & Theatre. Join us for some imaginative figure skating, silly racing, a long jump and an awards ceremony. Lauren and her mother will be attending the event, so you can ask them more questions about their Olympic adventure! We hope to see you tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this entry:

Skyride going up Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

On Friday we went to Grouse Mountain and we went on a cable car called the Skyride.  It was fun and creepy at the same time.  It went very high all the way up to the top of Grouse Mountain.  It was fun exploring there.  We saw skiers, snowboarders and hockey players.  We saw the place where the Today Show is filming while in Vancouver for the Olympics.  We took a picture of ourselves by the fireplace that we have seen on the Today Show.  We saw an ice carver too.  We watched a movie called Born to Fly and another one about the bears on Grouse Mountain called Bear Paws.

Lauren and Courtney in front of the Today Show fireplace

It was a very interesting story about bears that live on the mountain. I learned about  bears hibernation and about how they rehabilitate bears in British Columbia.  Lauren couldn’t say British Columbia so she called it Bridgets Clumbia. We thought that was very funny.  We also saw Timberwolves that live on the mountain.  The view from the top was very pretty.  Mom said it was breathtaking.  It was the highest place I had ever been to except flying on a plane.

Live City

On Saturday we went to the Live City in downtown Vancouver.

Courtney and Lauren with the Coca-Cola bear

The highlight was the Coca Cola Pavilion which had a bar that looked like ice that served Coca Colas, a Polar Bear swim game, pictures with the torch and Coke Bear and lots of lights and sounds.  They had all the torches from other Olympics to look at as well as all the old Cola bottles.  They had a recycling station to teach kids about recycling too.  My favorite part of that pavilion was getting my picture with the real Coke bear.

Courtney and Lauren with sled dogs

We also saw real sled dogs outside the Samsung  pavilion.  One was named Opal and I got to pet her and also get my picture taken with the pretend sled with the mascots on it. We also played computers in the Acer Pavilion and took our picture with Quatchi Miga and Muk Muk in the Panasonic Pavilion.  We listened to music and we watched some of the skiing on the big screen outside.  It was a beautiful day.  The weather has been very warm…not like winter at all, more like spring.

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: Victory Ceremony and Hockey!

Courtney and Lauren get into the Olympic spirit for this journal entry! We can’t wait to see what they do next:

Mounties before Victory Ceremony

Wednesday was a very exciting day for us…we went  to a Victory Ceremony for the winners of the Olympics.  It was in a stadium called BC place.  That is the same place where the Opening Ceremonies took place.  Before the ceremony started the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raised the Olympic flag.  At the ceremony we saw Maelle Ricker from Canada get a gold medal in person and we also saw Lindsay Vonn of the United States get her gold medal live on the jumbotron.  It was very exciting to see our flag get raised and I put my hand over my heart and stood for all the national anthems that were played for the winners.  We heard the Canadian and US anthems and also the Russian and Korean one.  It was interesting to hear them and very cool to be there to see them get their medals.  After each gold medal there was a shower of gold confetti that popped out.

Maelle Ricker from Canada with her gold medal as the flags are raised

The ceremony also included a concert and it was our first one ever.  The singer was from Alberta and his name was Paul Brandt.  It was awesome and I liked the music.  Lauren got very tired and fell asleep in her seat.  We were out very late!

My favorite part of the night was when the confetti shot up into the air after they got their medals.  Laurens favorite part was the big countdown we did at the start of the concert.

Lauren and Courtney at the US- Finland game with their cowbells

On Thursday we went to UBC Thunderbird Arena to watch the US Women’s Hockey team play against Finland.  It was magnificent to see our team win.  USA got six points and Finland got zero.  The best part of the game for me was making noise for my team with the new cowbell that my parents bought me.  I thought that was very cool.

Lauren gets on the Jumbotron during the game

Every time that our team scored we rang our bells.  We even got on the jumbotron.  The camera man took a movie of the crowd and played it on the screen.  Mom even got a picture of Lauren on the TV.  The hockey game was very cool.  The teams changed sides each period and we sat behind the goal so we had a really good view.  At the beginning of the game the US team gathered around the goal to say a prayer or have a pep talk.  At the end of the game both teams got in a got in a circle at the center of the ice and swung their sticks from inside to outside to salute the fans.

Laurens favorite part of the game was seeing herself on TV.  My favorite part was the noise and making some noise with our cowbells.  Everyone was very excited.

At the end of the game both teams got in a circle and raised their sticks to salute the fans

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal: February 14 & 15

Here is the second journal entry from our young Olympic reporters, Courtney and Lauren:

February 14: Valentine’s Day & Chinese New Year

Courtney and Lauren in Chinatown

Today is the Year of the Tiger and we went to Chinatown to celebrate it.  Before going there we went to see the Olympic cauldron which had been lit on Friday night.  We walked through Gastown and saw the Steam Clock which whistles and shoots steam.  We walked to Chinatown and when we got there a parade of dragons was happening.  They weren’t real though, just a lot of people in a costume.  We saw the Tiger and got our picture taken with him because it is the Year of the Tiger.  We saw a lot of interesting things in Chinatown.  The streetlights were Chinese Lanterns.  There was a very pretty Chinese garden and we explored it.  In one of the buildings we got our faces painted like a tiger and even hearts too for Valentines Day.  We got balloon animals made to look like Tigers and we saw many people dressed in pretty silk dresses.

Later in the day we went to Stanley Park and looked at  the Olympic rings which are in the water.  They are lit up at night but it wasn’t dark enough to see that yet.  We saw the totem poles which were kind of cool  and nearby a statue of a runner had torchbearer mittens tied onto it’s hands…that was kind of funny.

Going to Chinatown was my favorite part of the day.  It had a very cool gate entrance and the garden was very neat.  It was very exciting to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown.   I really liked it.

February 15

Rainforest room at the Vancouver Aquarium

Today we went to the Vancouver Aquarium.  We saw sharks, a big sea turtle and lots of other marine animals.  There was a dolphin show and a beluga whale show.  I learned that dolphins skin feels like a hard boiled egg and that beluga skin feels more squishy than a dolphin’s skin.  I asked the trainers what they eat and they told me that dolphins eat fish and belugas eat whatever they can get their mouths on.  There was a rainforest room with tropical birds and butterflies and there were turtles and a lizard.  There was a frog area and a kids zone.   There was a whole area of fish that live in the Pacific Ocean.  There was also a tropical area.  We even saw a 4D movie Planet Earth.  It was kind of scary because it felt real and it even sprayed us and touched us so we really felt like we were in the Ocean.  The people who worked there were really nice to us.  They answered all our questions and did a really great job making sure we understood the animals.  We had a really good time there.

Inukshuk: The symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics!

We played in the playground at Stanley Park and then we went to see the Inukshuk that is the symbol of the Olympics.  Inukshuk is actually pronounced Inuksuk….the h is silent.  They told us that at the aquarium.  It was very big and it is right next to the Pacific Ocean.  I wonder how the Native Americans who built it were able to stack the rocks that high.  Another thing I wonder is how they stay together without falling over.  It was super tall.

My favorite part of today was when I got to see the beluga whales because I thought that the trainers did a really good job getting the whales to listen to what they said and the babies were really cute.

Lauren liked the dolphin show best because it was very exciting to see them leap and mom said she liked the dolphins best because kids could take a lesson from them about cleaning up their toys.  They picked up all their toys and brought them to their trainer.

Courtney and Lauren’s Olympic Journal

A Museum & Theatre family is in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics!  Courtney (with help from her sister Lauren) offered to share some of their journey with us:

Lauren (age 4) and Courtney (age 6)

Travel Day

Getting to Vancouver took a long time.  First we drove to Boston, then we flew to Seattle and then we drove to Vancouver.  When we were at the airport we met the pilot.  His name was Captain Dean.  I asked him how long he has been flying and he said 13 years.  He told me his favorite thing about flying was the view from up there.  When we were on the plane, he announced from the cockpit that he would like to say a special hello to his new friends Courtney and Lauren.  I felt kind of nervous to talk to him and then I was excited when he said hi to me in front of the whole plane!!!

Olympics – Day 1

Courtney and Lauren with the torchbearer!

Today was a very long and exciting day.  First we went to the Vancouver airport to get our picture taken with the torch and my sister and I got to hold it.  Then we took a skytrain to the waterfront and we went to the Royal Canadian Mint.  We got to hold a gold bar worth $380,000.  It was really heavy…28 pounds!  My mom had to help me lift it because I couldn’t even move it myself.  While we were there we learned that we could come back later to hold the actual Olympic medals.

We took a taxi to Granville Island where we were able to watch the Olympic torch.  It was very crowded and very exciting.  We saw the torchbearer run to the dock and get on a canoe and be paddled across to downtown Vancouver.  It was kind of cool.  We wore our torchbearer mittens and waved them and our flags to show our excitement.  We also took our pictures with the torchbearer man and lady.

After this we went back downtown to a museum called Canada’s Northern House.  It had caribou and muskox and even a big polar bear which we got our pictures taken with.  It also had an Arctic Wolf and lots of native art.

While we were waiting to go back to the mint to touch the Olympic medals we walked around and we ran into a display of lanterns made by kids.  There were hundreds of them lighting up the street.  They were very pretty and it was neat that they were all made by kids.

Courtney holding an Olympic medal

My favorite part of the day was what happened next.  We were allowed to touch the gold medals of the Olympics.  We had to wear special gloves that say “I touched a gold medal” and we got to keep them.  It was the very best part of a very exciting day.

Lauren says her favorite part of the day was when we were waiting for the torch to run by us and she was running around waving her flags and wearing her torchbearer mitts and people were cheering for her.  She  thinks that the torch was the most exciting part of our first Olympic day.

Stay tuned for more as the girls explore Vancouver and learn more about the Olympics.