Rising Stars theatre camp presents new play at Hainline Theatre

MACOMB – A new local theatre production with a community theme is headed to a stage near you.
The as-yet unnamed play is currently in production by participants of the West Central Illinois  Arts Center Rising Stars, a theatre experience camp now in its second year. The play will premiere on August 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Hainline Theatre in Browne Hall at Western Illinois University. Performances are Friday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 4 at 2 p.m. in Hainline Theatre at Browne Hall on the Western Illinois University campus. Tickets will be sold at the door and will be $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and children five and under will be free.
According to Nan Crossman, WCI Arts Center director, they have been holding theatre and arts camps at the Arts Center since 2010 but last year started a new program called Rising Stars.
“It is a program where kids who range in age from six to 12 years come together and they create a show from nothing,” she said. “They have original music, they put together costumes, we work on the sets and everything that is involved in theatre, the kids are working with.”  
Children work with adult assistance and supervision, especially with things like lights and sound. The first two weeks of production are spent developing the show, and the third week is spent rehearsing in the Hainline Theatre space.
Crossman said the play has an overarching narrative focused on a community theme
Although she was reticent to reveal the plot of the new production, Crossman said the narrative unfolds through five short segments, each of which has something to do with community.
“I will tell you that some of the things that come out like everybody has an impact on community, that every action has an impact,” She said. “It’s different stories that fit into that overarching theme of community.”  
Crossman also explained that they will be doing away with large and bulky set pieces and props. The atmosphere of this play also will not be painted on the walls; instead, video projection will incorporated into the play. While the children act out their parts on the traditional theatrical stage, different landscapes will be displayed onto a large projection screen behind them.
By using this technique of video projection in a theatrical production, the landscapes can change to suit whatever the play calls for. Projection also makes for a more flowing and fluid change of setting which in turn allows for the five different segments to unfold during the narrative, she said.
Crossman said the recordings for the video projection will be of children unable to be in the show for the performances.
“So, we video recorded little things that fit into the stories, and they will have been part of the show,” she said.
She also said the participants in the show will not be on stage when the video is played.
“That is a separate part,” Crossman said. “And it’s actually a very commonly used approach to theatre nowadays. There are a lot of professional theaters where you see a lot of projection; you see things that are little bits that are inserted in the show.”
Crossman recalled the Theatre and Dance production of “Avenue Q” that had a video projection part of the show.
“That’s become a very common technique in theatre,” she said. “We’re just very fortunate that we’re able to make use of technology to do that, and we have the people who know how to use the technology.”
The play will also feature original music.
“Some of the music is original,” Crossman said. “The music has been written, but some of it is taking existing melody and putting words to it. So, we have both. All the words are original.”
Rising Stars staff includes Ethan Ivy, a music teacher at Edison School; Heidi Clemens, a dance instructor in the WIU Department of Theatre and Dance; Austin Roach and Chad Fess, graduate students in the WIU Department of Theatre and Dance; and Crossman.

Reach Christopher Ginn by email at cginn@mcdonoughvoice.com or find him on Facebook.