Three generations of Douglas County students gathered at Umpqua Community College on Friday for the first of four Celebration of Literacy plays.
High school students from around the county shared the power and love of books in a play they wrote and performed. The five students were part of UCC’s Career Academy, which allowed them not only to reignite their passion for acting but also expand their repertoire.
The production is a mix of skits and musical performances.
“They are at a slumber party and the books that are in the girl’s bedroom who’s hosting the party come to life,” UCC assistant professor of theater arts and play director Bart McHenry explained. “And when they come to life, those books are songs.”
Song are performed by the Umpqua Singers, eight students belonging to the college’s music program, theater art students, Umpqua Community Actors Theatre members Vic Linn and Jackson Parker and a member of the cast.
In an attempt to make it more fun for a young audience, each cast member is an over-the-top character. There’s a peppy cheerleader who is hosting the party for her four friends, a rapper who rhymes every line, a cowgirl with all western references, a science kid all about the numbers, and a surfer girl eager to ride the waves of each book brought to life in the room.
Thousands of Douglas County elementary students will have the opportunity to watch “Wake Up To Reading.”
“It’s a fun way to show kids the importance of reading. That reading is critical,” Celebration of Literacy program co-chair Maxine Durst said. “This play (also) gives young drama students a chance to improve their skills.”
On Friday, 960 students hailing from Sunnyslope, Eastwood and Melrose were the first to witness this community oriented performance. Together, they filled Jacoby Auditorium with not only the sounds of their excitement and laughter, but they sang along with the songs they knew — especially “Where You Are” from Disney’s “Moana.”
The Celebration of Literacy play is not open to the public, as it is put on solely for elementary school children in our area. In total, almost 3,500 Douglas County elementary students will attend one of the four performances — a Celebration of Literacy play record.
Erica Reynolds is the special section editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-957-4218.
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