In his book “A Whole New Mind,” Daniel Pink writes, “The era of “left brain” dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which “right brain” qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate.”
Almost everyone I’ve come into contact with this year has put “meaning” at the top of their list of priorities for life. For me, meaning starts with simple pleasures like enjoying creative community and helping my children and friends’ children expand as people. My parents (dad a talented symphony conductor and violin teacher, and mom an accomplished educator and hospital administrator) encouraged me to explore my own creative potential in many areas including music, writing, theater, gardening, and crafts. It was a satisfying childhood and instilled values that I’m passing on to my own children. Fortunately, I’m blessed to live in a community of families who share these same values and it’s a pleasure to share our lives and work together to help our children grow.
One of these parents, and a dear friend is Christine Armand DiBiasi, otherwise know as “Prima Momma.” Christine is a popular acting teacher and actress/play write who has devoted the last few years helping young children discover themselves through acting at various private and public schools in the Bay Area. She and I have spent many evenings discussing the importance of helping children open beyond the natural filters they create for themselves and the role that live story telling plays in self-discovery. She has wonderful stories of children she’s watched blossom through the experience of improvisational team acting.
Christine recently launched “Creative Storytelling Camp,” a multi-day adventure that combines the elements of Theater to create unique stories and allow children to discover their one-of-a kind expressive voice. Held during school breaks, the winter session concluded with a performance of “Creative Ones Under the Silver Bridge” held at Shelton Studios, Pier 26 (literally under the Bay Bridge). “I love the metaphor of the bridge for many reasons,” said Christine. “One of the kids said, “I always thought it was grey…then we looked up and the sun hit it just so…and it became silver.””
The cast consisted of eight children between the ages of 6 and 10: Macy Amos, Julian Bellinghausen, Bella DiBiasi, Zane Jackson, Zoe Perkins, Bailey Wallen, Ailsa Yale (the youngest), and Matilda Yale.
The show featured original stories developed mostly by the children with theme and acting guidance from Christine. There were six short stories in all that explored the importance of the individual and the role they play as part of a larger life whole. “Pico the Penguin” featured Zane Jackson as an off-beat penguin who can’t seem to play by the rules. “The Rainbow Bridge” used the colors of the rainbow, one assigned to each player, to explore various personality types. Darling Ailsa, the tender heroine brought the disparate colors together to make a bridge so they could cross the river together. In “Night of the Living Statues” the children explored the notions of trickery and hiding behind facades. The expert hula hooping sequences in “Magical Mystical Clock” kept the audience chuckling, especially Ailsa’s parents who watched in awe at her nonchalance. Apparently she’s been keeping her talent a secret. Macy Amos skillfully portrayed a drunk gracefully slithering from her chair to the floor. While in “Ho Ho Hobo” a family discovers that even though someone might look like a misfit, they may actually have something good to offer. The show ended with the traditional “I Am” reading where each child gradually reveals truths about themselves in their own words. It’s wonderful to watch each personality (all kids I know pretty well) emerge and take on new dimensions, finding the part that suits them best.
After the show Christine told me, “I realized this time around that it is about our singular creative contribution to the “collective story of life. That is what I’m trying to bring out of these kids. If we want to live a soulful, connected, joyful life…it must be collaboration with other like-minded folks. What do we bring to the table? And, of course how do we accept and integrate the beautiful differences that exist between us?”
I’m grateful for dedicated people like Christine who have the love and patience to help children dig deep into the depth of their own spirit and share it with others.