How are performing arts organizations carrying out their mission of bringing fun and education to families in a world of social distancing? Inga Munsinger Cotton spoke with Anthony Runfola, Artistic Director of The Magik Theatre.
Anthony is new to San Antonio—he started at Magik in October and his family moved in January. The role of Artistic Director means that he manages the shows they present—selecting scripts, casting actors, overseeing sets/props/costumes, etc.—and makes sure all those elements come together to create a fun learning experience for young audiences. Magik Theatre helps promote literacy by presenting shows based on children’s books, traveling to schools and around town, deploying teaching artists to SAISD middle schools, and offering theater classes to children and teens.
They were in the midst of presenting Dragons Love Tacos on the main stage when the city issued a stay-at-home order. The team got together over Zoom and came up with ways to offer virtual experiences, including story times, musical Mad Libs, and children’s yoga. Find these videos on the Magik Theatre’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
How can families use these resources with their children? Anthony’s advice for parents is, “Just play!” It’s okay to just let your kids watch the videos while you get some chores done. If you have time to watch the videos together with your kids, or if you are sitting down to read a book together, you can ask your kids open-ended questions. Pause after a page and ask your kids to guess what will happen next. When the story is done, ask them what would happen in a sequel. These kinds of questions build imagination and critical thinking skills.
Magik Theatre is offering online theater classes, called Camp Showbiz Online, for kids ages three and a half to 17 years old. They have sessions scheduled through June and July. Students participate in group Zoom calls, work on activities by themselves, including crafts (from supplies delivered to your house), and get one-on-one coaching from teaching artists.
When will audiences be able to see “Dragons Love Tacos” on the main stage again? Anthony said they are working on a plan that involves social distancing—spreading out the seating in the auditorium—and other strategies to keep guests safe. Stay up to date by following their Facebook page and subscribing to the email newsletter.
The Magik Theatre needs our support. Donate online today at https://www.magiktheatre.org/ As we keep our kids learning at home, let’s make sure our local arts institutions are with us along the way.