The Arkansas-based children’s theatre company, Trike Theatre, is bringing the Tony-nominated musical A Year with Frog and Toad to the Center and the children of St. Joseph County. The musical is based on the beloved children’s book series, Frog and Toad (a favorite of mine when I was young). The musical celebrates friendship and fun with music and a story for all ages. We asked Kassie Misiewicz, the artistic director and founder of Trike Theatre, some questions about this play and what goes into making children’s theater so special.
When was Trike Theatre founded and what is the inspiration behind its name?
I am both a director and a teaching artist, so engaging youth and families through exceptional theater experience takes on many forms. When I dreamed of starting a professional theater for youth, I knew that it had to reflect my vision of theater and have a new and innovative structure, one that viewed productions, academy, and outreach all with the same importance. Most traditional theaters put the majority of their emphasis on the productions and leave education programs as an afterthought.
Trike Theatre was founded in 2008 and aptly named because all three “wheels” of the theater company need to be fully supported and working together to ignite creativity, instill confidence, and inspire community.
Why do you believe it’s important for children to experience theater?
Seeing the world through a new perspective helps young minds imagine new worlds, new possibilities, and new ideas. Studies have found that theater for youth has a powerful impact on children and their development; engaging in imaginative activities like theater fosters increased intelligence.
Children who attend live theater have shown greater tolerance of different people and ideas, as well as increased empathy for others. They show a better understanding of reading materials and view social studies concepts in a new light as history comes alive in front of their eyes. Teachers have even found that by incorporating drama activities in the classroom, their students’ math and literacy scores have increased, as well as their social and emotional skills.
Trike Theatre will be performing for all the first-graders in South Bend schools, how do you stay energized and keep each performance “fresh?”
First graders are a very honest audience and will let you know if they feel engaged or not. We absolutely love performing for them and know that we have to bring our best performance when we are on stage. We trick our brains into thinking that each performance is the “first time” we’ve done it because, with each audience, the show is always different.
What are some of the important lessons that children can take away from this play?
Frog and Toad very are very different and are also best friends. A few of the sweet lessons this story reminds us of: When we feel angry at our friends, we can choose to forgive them. Don’t worry about what other people think. When you think you look funny, instead of hiding it, celebrate it. The lessons are great for all of us all to remember.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Acting is living truthfully in imaginary circumstances. The best thing young aspiring actors can do is to hold onto their imagination, be curious about everything, be brave enough to stink at something new, and know who you are so that you can bring your true self to any imaginary situation.
Many thanks to Ms. Misiewicz for her insightful comments on the play and about the importance of theater for children. There are two performances of Trike Theatre’s A Year with Frog that you can see at the Center on Saturday, February 15. Bring the family and experience the magic of friendship together! As a bonus for older kids, the Center will be screening the Oscar-nominated animated short films in the Browning Cinema at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
TRIKE THEATRE PRESENTS A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD
In this charming musical, great friends Frog and Toad celebrate the yearlong what makes each of them unique and their friendship so special.
Saturday, February 15 at 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
The 2 p.m. performance offers American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation.