Capitalizing on a niche market of theatre for young audiences as well as training for young actors, Madcap will offer master classes in puppet theatre and theatre for young audiences to Xavier students. Performances with the Xavier Players in Madcap style will be part of the Players’ regular season. A content-based production will do day tours in the spring to at-risk audiences.
For a quarter century Madcap Puppets has toured the country bringing original giant puppet theatre productions to schools, libraries and theaters. Through educational performances and residency and workshop programs, Madcap engages children’s imaginations and provides in-depth creative experiences in theatre, puppetry and story telling. In addition Madcap performs for family audiences around the country in collaborations and co-productions with orchestras, ballet and opera companies, and museums. In Cincinnati, Madcap performs with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Linton Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony and Pops, the Ballet and the Opera, and is in residence at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Each year, as many as 500,000 children and families nationwide, including over 100,000 in the Greater Cincinnati area, see a Madcap performance.
The partnership is a natural. Xavier Players Director Cathy Springfield has a background in theatre for young children and Madcap Artistic Director John Lewandowski has a long successful career with European and American puppet theatre and youth performance.
“A comprehensive academic program for the study of theatre for young audiences is an essential component to a vital theater community,” says Lewandowski. “We are a major employer of young actors in the region and need to take an active role in their training and artistic development.”
Lewandowski came to Madcap in August, 2006 from
“The collaboration between Xavier and Madcap provides an opportunity to expand the opportunities for our students to live the motto of the College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education: Collaborate, Innovate, Educate,” says Mark Meyers, Ph.D., Dean of Xavier’s College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education. “Working with a group such as Madcap connects our students with a respected theatrical group also known for its service to the community. Not only will our students develop opportunities to work in all aspects of theatrical productions, they will be given another method of learning which can be applied to their individual courses of study, whether in a classroom, counseling center, social agency, or any of the other professions entered by our graduates.”
Puppet theatre to Americans brings images of hand or finger puppets or socks with eyes sewn on. However, puppet theatre is one of the oldest forms of performing arts, found in all cultures and present in all societies. The puppet has been the voice of the oppressed in street performances and sophisticated characters in Baroque opera. In all cases the puppeteer works with the director to develop a language of gestures that can transmit emotions to the audience. And in this way a talented puppeteer can make a puppet “come alive” to the audience and invite them to take part in his adventures. The precision and dramatic analysis required in puppet theatre offer theatre students a unique approach to the performing arts.
Cathy Springfield is Director of Performing Arts at
Xavier’s Performance Studies Minor combines academic training with hands-on experience with the Theatre Series in a well-rounded program that encourages experience in all areas of theatre. Playwriting, student directing, and producing are a part of the Players yearly schedule. Each “player” is involved in acting and technical theatre. Coursework includes theatrical writing, personal histories, secular and sacred literature, history and the compilation of literature into performance art. Acting skills and directing techniques are at the heart of the Performance Studies Minor. American Universities are under tremendous pressure to opt for success based entirely on marketable skills. As a Jesuit institution the real measure of Xavier’s success is who our students become as individuals. Theatre is a tremendous catalyst for dialogue and a public forum for the expression of ideals and relevant topics. Participation in theatre creates solidarity with others illuminated by spiritual, moral integrity and intellect based on literature. The Xavier Players Series includes service-learning projects with each production to reinforce the ethical issues in each play. Participation in productions deepens those experiences that “touch the heart with personal involvement.”
Part of the mission of Xavier, as a Catholic Jesuit university, is to create men and women for others and this collaboration to create quality theatre for young audiences will be a way for Xavier students to see and feel directly that they have made a difference in a child’s life. This goes hand-in-hand with Madcap’s dedication to enriching the lives of young audiences