In the Summer and Fall of 2012 Ithaca parents came together to tell their stories in a series of story circles conducted by Sarah K. Chalmers, Director of Civic Engagement. This was the first phase in which about 50 parents participated.
A group of 9 participants stayed on to create, rehearse and perform the play, Parent Stories, which was performed at the Kitchen Theatre Company on May 31st and June 1st 2013.
Our play asked, “What does it mean to ‘get it right’ as a parent?” The nine participants who performed this play had this to say about the experience:
“I found being involved in Parent Stories to be a wonderful experience. Getting to know other Ithacans, sharing common (and less common) experiences around parenting with those involved and with the audience members, and being a part of the process of creating the play was exciting and rewarding, and truly made me feel connected to the greater Ithaca community. The focus on a theme that resonates in all of our lives brought us together and allowed us to explore how the process of parenting (and being parented) impacts each of us individually and as a community. I am eagerly awaiting the next play and another opportunity to work with Civic Ensemble once again!” – Rachel Cullenen
“It was a very good experience for me because of walking/acting through my fear of being on stage, being seen so exposed…as well as fun especially becoming the teenager! Most of all I felt good about contributing an important life-healing message about how important tears are to opening our hearts to more love, by letting our children cry…as well as adults. The support Sarah and Godfrey gave so freely was the cherry on top of a very important contribution to our community becoming more aware of how to love and accept each other.” Dianea Kohl
“The community-based play embraced a new level of community engagement I had not seen before anywhere in the Ithaca theatre community in the my three years at IC. The story circles, the casting of community members not professionally trained as actors, the creation of the material from their own experiences, the emphasis on learning and evolving together which enabled a supportive rather than divisive rehearsal process, the desire to bring people from all walks of life into the audience (reflected by the “pay-what-you-can” ticketing and reaching out to both the young and old within the community) – all impressive. Finally, as an undergraduate student, Civic Ensemble gave me an opportunity to be involved in a type of play most can only do in grad school. Civic Ensemble is a gift to Ithaca.”
– Lucy Walker, Assistant Director, Ithaca College Student
May 31 – June 1, 2013 @ 8:00pm & June 1 @ 2:00pm
at the Kitchen Theatre
directed by Sarah K. Chalmers
(Civic Ensemble’s first community-based play)
The first full production of our inaugural season, PARENT STORIES represents the culmination of a months-long project involving parents of the Ithaca community. In the Summer of 2012, Civic Ensemble started conducting a series of “story circles” with local parents and caregivers and the stories told became the basis for an original play developed by Sarah K. Chalmers in collaboration with Ithaca-area parents. These community members are the creators and performers of this piece. PARENT STORIES interweaves stories about the challenges all parents face. It is an examination of the tensions felt between past, present, and future as we attempt to “enjoy every minute” of the parenthood experience.
Photos by: Jennifer Herzog