A Performance Exploring Community, Change, and Coming of Age in the Lincoln Park/La Alma Neighborhood

Denver Parks and Recreation and Mirror Image Arts have teamed up to create a unique theatrical experience based on over 45 community interviews with the La Alma-Lincoln Park residents. “The Heart” resulted from the “Speak Up, Speak Out” project, a two year collaboration between the city’s MY Denver Card program and Mirror Image Arts that began by exploring the social determinants that affect Healthy Eating and Active Living.

“Denver Parks and Recreation strives to create healthy relationships within the communities. Speak Up, Speak Out has given the voice to the young adults in the La Alma community. Allowing them to become leaders and advocating for change within their communities. Their role has become vital in building those community relationships as they build leadership and life skills they can use as they become adults.”
-Tiffany Tungate, MY Denver

The effort launched on July 1, 2016 at La Alma Recreation Center in La Alma/Lincoln Park in Northwest Denver. Over the past 18 months MY Denver staff and Mirror Image Arts have worked with a Youth Advisory Board to develop and execute a plan to learn about the community through a listening party, coalition building, and interviews. In July, a team of artists from Mirror Image Arts along with MY Denver staff and youth from the La Alma-Lincoln Park neighborhood came together to explore the stories that exist within it, and to develop a script with local playwright, Larry Mitchell.

“Getting to know this neighborhood and the wealth of stories within it, working with these artists and youth in the neighborhood, and all of the discoveries that have come along throughout that process has forever changed the way I look at and think about neighborhoods, community, and even the collaborative effort of theatre, itself. I can’t wait to experience the final iteration of the project along with the people who inspired and contributed to the project. And, I can’t wait to see how that manifests itself as a lasting element within the community once the performances are over.”
– Larry Mitchell, Playwright

“The Heart, The Soul” will run Dec 7th-10th, 2017 @ La Alma Recreation Center, 1325 W 11th Ave, Denver, CO 80204

  • December 7th – 10:00 am and 1:00 pm
  • December 8th – 10:00 am and 7:00 pm
  • December 9th – 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
  • December 10th – 2:00 pm

Tickets are FREE

Reserve your ticket at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-heart-the-soul-tickets-38609781897

About Denver Parks and Recreation

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) facilities are unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West. The DPR system spans over a 149-year history, from the first park created in 1868 to nearly 20,000 acres of urban parks and mountain parkland today. A variety of amenities and activities are available within our 27 recreation centers, as well as outdoor programs and sports for all ages and abilities.  MY Denver Card gives all Denver children, ages 5 to 18, free access to all outdoor pools, recreation centers and cultural facilities.  For more information, visit www.denvergov.org/parksandrecreation, check us out on YouTube,

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About Mirror Image Arts

Mirror Image Arts uses theatre as language to inspire dialogue, encourage awareness and promote action in order to build a strong, compassionate and empowered community. Our work is a subset of applied theatre. Applied theatre occurs in non-traditional settings such as schools, libraries, recreation centers, etc. It is facilitated by professional actors/teaching artists and involves people working as a community to address an issue of social concern. Applied theatre does not merely create a public performance, it interacts with its audience through questions and discussion that focus on relevant issues in their lives.

This project is made possible due to generous funding by The Colorado Health Foundation and Imagine 2020.


Fulfillment, enrichment, empowerment. This sequence of words describes what it has meant for us to volunteer for Mirror Image Arts during the course of this past year. Ashley and I are the event chairs for the “I Got Your Back” annual fundraiser, and together we have volunteered over 180 hours.

Both Ashley and I are transplants to Colorado, but each of us equally has strived to make a positive impact in our community. To play a role in this organization that consistently works toward creating meaningful dialogue for our youth around life skills such as empathy, problem solving, critical thinking, and effective communication is truly fulfilling. Is there a better reward for your hard-work then knowing you supported a cause that will create real change in your community?

Each time we meet with fellow volunteers and the students and teachers impacted by Mirror Image Arts our lives are further enriched. When you volunteer for an organization like this one, you become a part of a large, very boisterous, family who challenge you to be more conscious of how your actions affect the community you live in.

Empowerment. This word has had more meaning to us over the past year. On days when we have felt as though we are unable to make a difference, a change, or that our voices are not heard in the chaos, we put more effort into the event (this could be the real source of why we have volunteered almost 200 hours!). We feel more empowered knowing that if we secure one more donation or one more source of entertainment, this event will raise enough funds to ensure that Mirror Image Arts will continue to provide Bullying Prevention and Arts Education programs at an affordable rate to low income communities.

Even though we work full-time and find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day, we continue to plan, organize, attend meetings, and reach out to the event committee, staff, donors and volunteers because our contribution is fulfilling, enriching, and empowering in our lives and those who benefit from Mirror Image Arts programming.

Join us on October 21st! Purchase Tickets Here.

 

Ali is center in the black t-shrit and sunglasses

How old are you?
17

What school do you attend?
East High School

What is your favorite subject in school?
I’m very passionate about science, not just hard chemistry or biology(though I do love them). But the science of learning about people, the mind, and society is what really has my heart. “Soft sciences” or the social sciences have always been my favorite.

What is your favorite activity outside of school?
Outside of school I’m always doing some sort of community event while trying to engage with and meet new people.

What is your favorite song?
Still Rock and Roll by Billy Joel

What is your favorite movie?
John Carpenter’s “The Thing”

What is your favorite book?
Set This House On Fire by Matt Ruff

Who is your role model and why?
I don’t consider myself to necessarily have role models but an old supervisor of mine, Eneri Rodriguez, is as inspirational and impacting as any role model can be. She has inspired me to be an individual in a world where people are scared to be. She has helped me to develop my views on the world and most importantly, she has inspired me to change the world. I hope one day to be as punk, inspirational, and just generally as cool as she is.

Where do you want to go college and why?
I’m really hoping to go to college in California. It is a rich state and the birthplace of ethnic studies, which is the major I hope to pursue. I want to experience the entire world, and I consider the large state of California as my running start.

What do you want to be in the future?
I firmly believe we are never done growing up. My only goal for my “grown” self is to say that I have done something to better a person, a community, perhaps a world. When I am grown up I want to dedicate myself towards a message of helping, no matter the size.

What do you like about being a part of Speak Up, Speak Out’s Youth Advisory Board?
SUSO has given me lots of opportunity to develop new skills in addition to exposure to new places and people. SUSO has been incredibly helpful in developing my level of critical thinking especially in relation to communities. I love the immense amount of learning I have gone through with Speak Up Speak Out.

Will being a part of this Youth Advisory Board help you as a person, if so how?
Perhaps what I do like about the Youth Advisory Board is how it has helped me as a person. The work we do promotes genuineness, connection, and community. These were not all things I valued as much until I became part of the Youth Advisory Board. These are also values essential to being, in my opinion, a good person.

Mirror Image Arts is a theatre for young audiences, simply stated, we work for and with young people. Here, Sam Provenzano, an alumni artist of Mirror Image Arts, shares an international perspective.

I recently came back to the U.S. from two weeks in Cape Town, South Africa where I attended an international Theatre for Young Audiences festival. Over 50 pieces from around the world gathered to share their work with their international colleagues over the course of 12 days. I saw some of the most life-changing theatre I have ever seen, regardless of intended audience. But the fact that all of these pieces were specifically crafted for young audience members made them that much more important.

Some of the pieces brought to South Africa were highly political and complex. These works were profound because they were complicating issues and were inviting the young audience to enjoy, challenge, and investigate the complications. One piece, a collaboration between the UK, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, was called Pim and Theo. I could not get tickets to this production but everyone who saw it was blown away. In this piece, high school age audiences enter through an installation on fascism and civil liberties, eventually ending up in the space with the characters of already dead Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh, two real-life men who were both murdered for their outspoken political beliefs and actions. The show uses live-video streaming and positions the audience to answer how far they would go to protect someone else’s rights. Here is a trailer for the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqnpfIH8oqA

http://www.pimandtheo.com/

My favorite piece by far was a South African George Orwell’s Animal Farm by a company called Shakexperience based in Johannesburg. This piece had six women performers who transformed into various animals and human through the use of simple props and costumes pieces with base costumes as guerilla-style fatigues. The transitions and storytelling were uniquely South African, as many audience members around me would burst into applause. laughter, or verbal response to what was happening on stage. What stuck with me about this production is that it did not shy away from either the humor or gruesome of reality.
Here is a video excerpt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZaM7gO3PZk

The only piece from the U.S. was called Seedfolk from Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. This piece is a one woman show where the actor depicts multiple characters from the same neighborhood hoping to transform a rat-infested lot into something more. While this a beautiful piece, I could not help but ask myself where was the rest of the U.S. representation?

In the U.S., Theatre for Young Audiences is not given the same weight as “adult” theatre. I wonder if it has something to do with how we as a society view childhood. I attend the University of Texas at Austin and I am studying drama and theatre for youth and communities and I have a professor that continually challenges how we discuss young people. Societally, there is a default of adult. Adult being the ultimate thing one can be and young people are working to get to “Adult”. Meaning they’re not necessarily full human beings yet, but they will be at the age of 18-25. Childhood is a moment in time that is held precious, but perhaps by doing so, we ignore the complexities of a child as a human. The idea that they are already full human beings with complex thoughts and emotions worthy of complex art.

There were multiples times throughout my theatre watching in Cape Town where I thought, “No way would that be put on a U.S. stage.” During these moments though, I would look around at the young people fully engaged in whatever was happening. Because what was happening was beautiful, or dangerous, or important. As storytellers, the theatre-makers held the audience in high regard and respected their aptitude for complex stories.

My family and friends are asking what Cape Town was like. I keep giving the short answer that it was one of the most complicated places I have ever been, with extreme poverty right next to luxury living. Political unrest in the relatively recent shadow of apartheid. Unbelievable beauty at the base of one of the oldest mountains on Earth with fresh fog from the ocean covering parts of the city. Witnessing highly skilled actors delivering quality, critically engaged work for the young people of Cape Town spurs me on to continually strive to make theatre that honors young audiences as fully human.

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Become an Upstander for your community by joining the Mirror Image Arts Youth Advisory Team.

We are looking for youth between the ages of 11-18 who are interested in theatre and/or social action. Mirror Image Arts uses theatre as a language to inspire dialogue, encourage awareness and promote action in order to build a strong, compassionate and empowered community. Together we will devise a Social Justice theatre piece that reflects youth – their voice, passions and the change they want to be to an audience of community leaders. In addition, through involvement in the the Youth Advisory Team, youth will lend their experiences, opinions, and creative problem solving skills to help shape how our organization serves them and their peers through our current bullying prevention program, “Your Voice Matters”. The Mirror Image Arts Youth Advisory Team will meet monthly starting in March. As we develop our performance piece we will meet more frequently to rehearse in May based on team members schedules.

If you or someone you know is interested in this leadership opportunity, please contact Meghann Henry at m.henry@mirrorimagearts.org.

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AUDITION NOTICE:
Mirror Image Arts is pleased to announce auditions for the 2014-2015 season. Mirror Image Arts is a touring company bringing interactive, educational theatre to Colorado. We are seeking male and female actor/facilitators who will have the unique experience of guiding young audiences through an unforgettable journey of self-discovery. Our programs are designed to empower youth to use their voice for change.

Rehearsals are set to run July 14th-31st. Performance dates and times will vary throughout the school year. Commitment expectations will be discussed during auditions. Actors will be paid per performance.

We are seeking 3m and 1f to join our existing team.
Age Range: 18 – 40

Auditions will be held at The Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education (1101 13th St Denver, CO 80204) BY APPOINTMENT ONLY on June 30th & July 1st from 6:30pm to 9:30pm.

Please come prepared with a contemporary monologue not to exceed two minutes. Actors may be asked to cold read from the script.

For an appointment please email headshot, resume and preferred audition time and date to perform@mirrorimagearts.org