Viewpoint 181: Art creates lasting benefits
“It’s A Wonderful Life: Radio Version” will be performed at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20, at the Brainerd Learning Center, 311 10th Ave. NE, Brainerd.
Over 25 years ago, under Principal Marlee Larson, the Brainerd Middle Level Alternative Program School was established to create a positive educational experience for students to increase educational success.
Each year, Middle Level Alternative Program students are given an opportunity to participate in the annual school play. Twenty four years ago the stage was a small metal frame with a maroon shower curtain. The school now has a stage, a variety of props, lighting and sound systems. Students build scenes and backdrops and participate in a class to explore elements of the theater and staging plays.
The history of theater at the school goes back over two decades. Jackie Janousek-Foss was the first instructor at the Middle Level Alternative Program and instrumental in starting the theater program.
Thanks to the Five Wings Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund the school received a grant in 2020 that will help with this year’s production and provides an elective theater class for high school students.
The grant also made it possible to hire local actress and director Amy Borash to coach the performers and provide staging instruction.
With all of the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the play production was nearly scratched this year. By chance, through the class curriculum that Janousek was using, "Radio Shows" popped up and the idea to perform "It's a Wonderful Life: Radio Version” was kick-started.
This radio version of “It’s A Wonderful Life” allows the production to be performed with an audience, while it could still be streamed or even completed via Zoom. It also allows students to take on other roles in case of an absence.
The benefits of participating in an annual school production go much deeper than what you see on the surface by improving self-esteem, giving students a sense of achievement, while strengthening their listening, communication, and problem-solving skills.
“It’s A Wonderful Life: Radio Version” will be performed at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20, at the Brainerd Learning Center, 311 10th Ave. NE, Brainerd. Face coverings are required.