All are welcome at Wilson Performing Arts Center family play sessions

The Wilson Performing Arts Center is hosting a series of family play sessions this month.
Sessions are slated for 10 to 11 a.m. on March 11, 18, and 25. The March 11 session will have participants make their own puppets and perform puppet theatre using their voices to create dynamic characters.
On March 18, attendees will enjoy fort-building fantasies. Participants will be encouraged to construct forts and engage in imaginary worlds using props and costumes. The month closes out on March 25 with a retro restaurant activity. Attendees will create an original character and restaurant using the WPAC’s costumes and props.
WPAC executive director Val Zane said the concept for the play sessions was broached by Red Oak Community School Jr./Sr. High-Language Arts instructor Laura LaPrell, who had a variety of ideas.
“One of her ideas was based on something she’d learned through school about the importance of creative play. It’s good for kids, it keeps them entertained, expands their mind, concentration, and emotional growth, encourages creative problem solving, and helps them do better at school,” said Zane.
LaPrell also shared that while the play sessions were good for kids, they also had a positive influence on adults.
“According to what Laura researched, it helps adults release endorphins, helps adults de-stress, improves brain functionality and stimulates creativity. It also helps adults feel more energetic, improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex,” Zane explained. “The cool thing about all these is that there’s physical creativity as well as mental. People will be putting their phones down and having one-on-one time. I think everyone’s addicted to their phones, and this gets people out of their phones and interacting.”
Zane added there was all sorts of research behind creative play that showed it was not only fun, it was good for the participants. Zane felt the WPAC was the perfect place for the sessions.
“We’re a creative performing arts center, and we have all sorts of things people can use and play with, props, costumes, even dance studios. Laura also felt it would be a good thing to do here. It can help parents who are home schooling, or those who aren’t and would just like to bond a little more with their children,” committed Zane.
Additionally, the workshops will cater to other creative outlets other than just focusing on acting exercises.
“There’s a lot of construction activities involved, like making masks, costumes, the puppets, and the fort building. I thought that was an interesting idea, I loved making forts at home when I was a kid. My brother and I would make them in our living room or outside when there was snow.”
Also, depending on how the workshops go, Zane said they could be expanded on for further workshops.
“Coming from a family play session and doing puppet play could turn into a full on puppet-making and puppet playing camp. This gives me an idea of what people are interested in, and at the actual event, we can see what people love the most and potentially expand on it for the future,” explained Zane. “Laura LaPrell has so many ideas, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Cost is $20 per session for an adult and one child, and $10 for each additional child.
The adult can be a parent, uncle, aunt, even an adult family friend, but they do request an adult be present for each play session with the child. Zane said participants need only bring themselves.
“All of the supplies are included, and everything else is included. Laura LaPrell will be leading the sessions, and she has experience as a teacher and in the theatre, and other volunteers will be on-hand to help out. It’s going to be very fun,” Zane said.
Tentative age range for the child participants is suggested between age 4 and age 11, but Zane said there is some flexibility.
“We wanted to set some type of suggested limit, but we did talk about situations like with a brother or a sister who were outside of those age ranges, and decided they would still be welcome. We just wanted to include the age as a jumping off point, but if the kid is 15, and wants to play, that’s fine with me.”

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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