A Letter from Our Artistic director, Jared Mezzocchi
We are in a very conflicted moment in our society, so I would like to take a moment and share with you our newly announced season at Andy's Summer Playhouse this summer, because it is beautifully inspiring to me. In honor of our Andy's Kids (ages 8-18) - please read:
As many of you already know, we have themed our summer the SUMMER OF ADVERSITY, and the board and staff have been in long conversations about what we should be tackling this summer with our Andy's Kids. As you also know, I truly believe Andy's houses some of the most prolific children I have ever seen. They teach me what it means to look directly into the eye of the storm and wrestle out artistic truths that I don't even see in my national theater life.
We have decided to produce 3 shows and workshop an adaptation of a book in our 2nd annual Greenhouse Initiative. Our first show is an adaptation of the book GEORGE, a story of a child who identifies as Melissa while the rest of the world sees her as George. Melissa wants to audition for Charlotte in the drama club's Charlotte's Web, but only girls can audition for the role. Our second show is the story of Arianna, a girl who has autism and owns a special space helmet that takes her on journeys through time and space, creating a safe space for her to think and behave freely. Our third show is a story of a girl named Rebecca who moves from NH to CA and is cyber-bullied by her new school mates and, through the help of a new friend, learns how to navigate this complex virtual/physical world of adolescence. And finally, our Greenhouse Workshop Initiative is adapting the book THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan. This book is a graphic novel telling the story of an immigrant family trying to escape oppression and find a safe home in a foreign and unknown community. LGBTQ+, Autism, Cyber-bulling, Immigration/Refugees: All Female Protagonists...And that's our season.
As Artistic Director, I've been reflecting a lot about what makes Andy's such a special place to me, and it's this:
In my first show at Andy's (I was 10 years old) the Fox (played by Kerry Ryan) said to The Little Prince (played by Ryan McGettigan) "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye".
Andy's has a lot of invisible essentials. It lets kids be kids, it lets professional artists play freely, and it lets families be exquisitely proud of their children's work, because it is so unbelievably inspiring. Andy's also chooses very complex work that challenges all that are involved. This year has been very polarizing to many communities on all sides of all issues, and I take stock in the mission of what Andy's is here to do. Our mission states that we "exist to provide a safe environment for children to experience and learn about all aspects of the performing arts, with the goal of creating innovative theater for the surrounding community. Andy’s emphasizes education and community building, encouraging all participants to explore their own creativity." Our mission is both for the kids and the surrounding community and I take deep pride in the fact that these kids can lead the conversation for all of us. This is because we trust them.
We are tackling topics of existence, identity, adversity, and point of view. Most importantly, we are asking the kids to lead that conversation. These plays are providing a platform to explore different lives and different struggles that kids experience in the world today. These struggles are more complex than ever and I trust that the children of Andy's will unearth dialogues and give insight as to what their perspective may be. I also trust this will inspire every family that walks through our doors.
As our mission concludes: "The single, most important guiding principle is an unrelenting faith in the integrity, dignity and importance of children and their point of view."
So there you go, Andy's kids, I lay the baton at your feet.