Friday Night Teen Clubhouse @ ACA

Friday night, and nothing for your teen to do?
How many times parents have heard that complaint! 

Now there’s a great option at the Arlington Center for the Arts – the “Friday Night Teen Clubhouse” – a place for creative teens to connect, socialize and be creative in a safe and fun atmosphere, led by two Arlington High School graduates who remember what it was like to be a teen in Arlington looking for a place to fit in and hang out with other creative teens.

looking for something fun for teens on Friday Nights? Join the Friday Night Teen Clubhouse at ACA!

The Teen Clubhouse meets on Friday evenings, with new sessions beginning in the Fall, Winter and Spring, with separate groups for middle school students and high school students.    The cost is $110 for eight weeks, or $95 for ACA members.  Pre-registration is required, and teens must sign up for the full eight weeks (no drop-in option).

The middle school Teen Clubhouse runs from 6:00-8:00, led by Chris Legare,  an AHS graduate who has since earned his BA from Mass College of Art.  Chris is a long-time teacher of arts and animation at ACA.  For the middle school group, Chris plans on starting each Friday night with a guided lesson exploring mediums such as charcoal drawing, animation, stenciling, graphic arts, painting, installation art, sculpting and more. The second hour of each class will be dedicated to open studio time where students can continue on with the guided lesson, work independently or in groups on their own projects, socialize, and just unwind, have fun, and make new friends.

Chris Legare (on left, in red) will work with the middle school group in this fall’s Teen Clubhouse. Chris is known for his imaginative projects – everything from animation to street art to photography and more!

The high school Teen Clubhouse runs from 6:30-8:30, led by Brian Biciocchi, also an AHS graduate and long-time leader of ACA’s Counselor in Training program.  Known for his fun-loving and compassionate style, Brian is planning to make the high school clubhouse “a fun, social space to be creative and feel supported.”  Teens will pursue their own self-motivated projects and be encouraged to explore their own artistic motivations and produce works of their own design and planning.   An array of materials will be provided as well as a fun-loving, “it’s-a-friday-night” atmosphere with music and plenty of time to socialize and make new friendships (or strengthen old ones).

Brian Biciocchi will lead the high school group in this Fall’s Teen Clubhouse. Brian is known for his outrageous good fun and ability to connect with teens.

To learn more or to register for the Friday Night Teen Clubhouse, visit or call the Arlington Center for the Arts (781) 648-6220.

Video Blog: Recycled & Altered Books

You’ll never believe what you can do with old books!
Diem Dangers will lead you on an amazing journey, transforming old books into stunningly beautiful and meaningful visual journals…

Next offered:
“Recycled Books” with Diem Dangers
Fall, 2012:  4 Tuesdays, 3:00-4:30pm, ages 11-16
You can register online
or call the Arlington Center for the Arts (781) 648-6220

Skye Murie and Jordawn Moses Receive ACA’s Community Arts Leadership Award

The Arlington Center for the Arts was delighted to present its 3rd annual Community Arts Leadership Award to Arlington High School Seniors Jordawn Moses and Skye Murie at the AHS Scholarship and Award Night on June 7, 2012.

The ACA Award, underwritten by former ACA Board President John Cinkala, recognizes two graduating seniors each year for their community service through the arts.  Through their leadership and creativity, the 2012 award winners truly reflect the mission of the Arlington Center of the Arts, which is to transform lives and build community through the arts. 

Jordawn Moses and Skye Murie accept ACA’s Community Arts Leadership Award at the annual Arlington High School Awards Night, June 2012. Photo credit: Mark Wilke.

The “after” shot – the AHS girls’ restroom after Jordawn’s covered over all the graffiti and painted the walls with bright colors and uplifting quotations. Jordawn is happy to report that at the end of the school year, there was not a single case of graffiti in the transformed space.

Jordawn Moses has used her creativity and initiative to improve the lives of others.  Concerned with the effect of graffiti on self-esteem, Jordawn transformed a girls’ restroom at AHS from a place filled with demoralizing and hateful messages into a space where, as she put it, “one could feel respect, solace, and beauty.”

Jordawn worked with a local paint store to select peaceful colors, painted over all the graffiti, and replaced demeaning messages with uplifting words and quotations.  In addition, Jordawn has volunteered with elders in the art therapy department of an assisted living facility, and her own artwork has been selected for the Spy Pond Mural project, slated to be hung on the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.

Jordawn will be attending Mount Ida College in the Fall.

See the artwork created by Jordawn and three other teen artists for the Spy Pond Mural.

Skye Murie is an accomplished visual artist who has excelled in ceramics, watercolor, acrylics and oil painting, and has received recognition from the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards, and received the AHS Arts Award in her Freshman, Sophmore and Junior Years.

Skye Murie’s Jacob Marley puppet was an impressive and memorable part of AHS’s 2011 production of “A Christmas Carol”

This fall, Skye saved the day for the production of  “A Christmas Carol” at AHS, volunteering to create a 7-foot tall puppet of the Ghost of Jacob Marley, after a professional puppet designer fell through.   Skye’s puppet received amazing reviews! Skye has also participated in the Concord Family Trees Exhibit, where she designed and constructed ornaments for holiday trees inspired by children’s books.

Skye Murie will be attending Hampshire College in the fall.

See more images of Skye’s artwork on her Flickr page.

The Arlington Center for the Arts is delighted to be able to recognize these talented young artists who understand the importance of the arts as a tool to better their community and change the world.  Jordawn and Skye have truly transformed lives through the arts.

Everyone at ACA offers our congratulations and best wishes in all their future endeavors!

“Being a CIT is an AMAZING experience….”

Last week, we asked our Counselors-in-Training to share some thoughts about what it’s like to be a CIT at ACA’s Summer Arts Camp.

CITs with a group art project during "Carnival of the Animals" week.

At ages 11-14, CITs are little too old for a “kids” camp, but a little too young for summer jobs.  As CITs at ACA, these young teens try their wings working with younger campers in the classrooms, create amazing collaborative art projects as a group, and take field trips each week to destinations such as the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Decordova Sculpture Park.

Here’s a little bit of what they said about being a CIT at ACA:

Josie, CIT, age 12

“Being a CIT is an AMAZING experience,” said Josie, age 12. “It is so much fun working with kids of all different ages. It is different working with all of the different age groups too. With the little kids you really have to help them and show them how to do things. With the older kids you can really relate to them and talk about things you have in common. But being a CIT isn’t just hard work. There is also some down time where you can hang out with your new “besties” that you made that week. The teachers are fun and Brian always makes us laugh with his crazy antics and hilarious stories. All in all, I love being a CIT and I can’t wait to come back the other weeks I am here.”

Amber, CIT, age 13

“I really like the field trips we go on,” said Amber, age 13. “The teachers always bring us somewhere fun and we learn about famous artists. It’s always so interesting taking the bus or the train on the way there because you can hang and talk with your friends and sometimes play games on the subway. This week we went to the DeCordova and Brian prepared a scavenger hunt for us. We got some REALLY awesome prizes at the end. After field trips, we all go out for ice cream and just chill. I absolutely love the field trips here and can’t wait for the next one!”

CIT Field Trip & Scavenger Hunt at the Decordova Sculpture Park: See the Slideshow

Rayna, CIT, age 12

“Being a CIT is a big responsibility but an even bigger privilege,” said Rayna, age 12. “You get to work with amazing kids, hang with our teachers Brian and Jennaway, and make friends around your age who like the same kind of things. I know it kinda stinks that you don’t get paid for helping out with “the little ones,”* but the camp makes up for it with all the amazing experiences that you have here. The kids are just so fun to work with; you get to learn with them and teach them and just hang with them. When you are a CIT they sometimes idolize you. It’s great for self-esteem. Brian and Jennaway are hilarious; they can always make you laugh. You make friends here that you would probably never know if you hadn’t gone to this camp. You meet great and very artistic people here, and you won’t regret your time here. Your summer can only get better if you come to the CIT camp. I know it sounds cheesy, but hey, it’s 100% true.”

CITs are artists, too!  See their giant funhouse faceboards from last week’s “Quirky Circus” Camp

* Education Director’s Note: while participating in the CIT program does not guarantee you’ll be hired as a counselor at ACA, you’ll be gaining skills and knowledge that are a great asset in applying for a paid counselor job after the age of 15.  Many of our ACA counselors got their start as CITs.

Macbeth: From Theatre to Field

Guest blog story by David Atkins, who played Macbeth in Arlington Children’s Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park performance in July 2011.

David Atkins as Macbeth and Kate Miller as Lady Macbeth in Arlington Children's Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park production, July 10, 2011

Although we often associate the works of William Shakespeare with the iconic stage in the round at the Globe Theatre in London, Shakespeare’s troupe spent their summers touring the English countryside, putting on their plays in the open air.  Over the last several months, I was fortunate to share a similar experience with the cast of Arlington Children’s Theatre’s Macbeth, and I’m glad to have this opportunity to share some of what we went through as a cast.  First and foremost, being part of this show was wonderful and a true piece of teamwork, in every way.  The sense of accomplishment when the show goes well, and the whole cast knows everyone played a role in that, is one of the best parts of the theater experience.

We started rehearsing on a winter night when the ground was still covered in snow and this crazy, but amazing process ended on a beautiful summer night by Spy Pond.  For me, it has been a privilege to have the opportunity to bring Macbeth to the stage especially since he has been a fascinating character to get to know.  My first impression of Macbeth was that he was nothing more than a bad guy.  He certainly has his share of bad behavior, killing many innocent people in cold blood over the course of the play, and by the time Macduff carries in Macbeth’s severed head, most people would agree that Macbeth got what he deserved.  At that point in the show, I would agree.  He does go off the deep end in the second half of the show.  However, as I came to understand the character better, I began to feel a little sorry for Macbeth.  He starts the play as a brave and honorable warrior, which is why Duncan confers the title of Thane of Cawdor on him in the first place.  Slowly, the three witches, his wife, and ultimately his own ambition destroy him.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble... Nancy McCarthy, Rebecca O'Leary and Ryan Lally as the three Witches

Being part of Macbeth was particularly interesting for me after having been in ACT’s production of Hamlet last spring.  The plays are known as two of Shakespeare’s most classic tragedies, yet their title characters couldn’t be more different.  Macbeth is a very impulsive and ambitious person.  He seeks to take what is not his, and he rarely stops to think about his actions, let alone their consequences.  Conversely, Hamlet plots and schemes, acting slowly upon his desire to avenge the death of his father, developing his plans over time and thinking before he acts.  Seeing these two characters in productions so close together presented a fascinating contrast.

Miles Allen as Macduff, performing in the round in Arlington's Masonic Temple, Spring 2011

Our indoor performances of Macbeth were staged in the Arlington Masonic Temple, a location that allowed us to perform in the round.  Performing in the round is a very different experience from performing on a proscenium stage with a traditional “fourth wall.”  Although the round comes with its own particular set of challenges, I find the round a much more natural place to perform.  When people stand around and talk in a group, there is no “front” or “back,” so why perform that way?  When the audience is only on one side, there is no excuse not to turn toward them, but, as an actor, this seems less natural.  When performing in the round, there is no upstage or downstage, and the action is free to take shape organically which changes the experience of both acting in, and viewing, the play.

After we had performed three shows in the round, we shifted the play to the back burner for almost two months and brought it out again to perform one final show for Shakespeare in the Park.  As I said before, Shakespeare’s company frequently used an outdoor setting back in the 1600s when his plays were first being performed.  The park was a fun, but challenging place to put on a play.  The two venues we performed in couldn’t have been more different.  The Masonic Temple’s stage in the round lent itself to the kind of natural acting I talked about before.  We were used to performing in the round, so having to direct all the action to an audience seated in one direction posed some interesting challenges.  We had to work to reorient some scenes in the play and change the blocking.

A different kind of backstage - behind the backstop at Spy Pond Field. The cast definitely rose to the occasion, and were able to carry off one of Shakespeare's darkest tragedies in the full light of an 80 degree, sunny summer day.

Besides the physical layout of the stage, the transition from performing in a room to a field was challenging in terms of acoustics, mood, and distractions.  First, relying on nothing but four microphones across the stage was the biggest challenge I faced in making the transition from stage to field.  Macbeth, as is the case in any of Shakespeare’s plays, is full of subtlety and carefully created moods.  The lack of a room with powerful acoustics created a need to speak quite a bit louder.  Could I retain everything I had done in the round and adapt it to the field?  Second, it was a difficult transition in terms of creating mood.  The Masonic presents an ideal setting for acting Shakespeare.  The indoor stage allows for the use of lighting to create mood, as well as a room that is an architecturally perfect setting for a Shakespeare play.  Contrast this with a field in the middle of broad daylight.  Trying to capture the sinister subtlety of murder in the middle of the day next to a baseball diamond was a challenge to be reckoned with.

We all knew it was coming, but Macbeth's inevitable end was played with gripping suspense by David Atkins, as Macbeth, and Miles Allen as Macduff.

Finally, the indoor stage was much quieter.  The outdoor stage was filled with distractions.  Some people played Frisbee across the field, while others played tennis behind our stage.  Airplanes often flew overhead.  These distractions made the intense focus of the play more difficult to reproduce.  In all three challenging areas, as I got more comfortable with such a different setting, I felt a lot more relaxed.  By the end of the play, the field seemed just as natural a place to perform as an indoor stage, which is a feeling I’m sure I shared with Shakespeare and the members of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

See more images from the show in our Shakespeare in the Park online slideshow

CITs Visit Chihuly Exhibit at the MFA

CITs visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Summer 2011

Last week, ACA’s Counselors in Training (CITs) took a field trip to see the Chihuly Exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and we asked them to share some of their thoughts and impressions on “Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass.”  We think you’ll be impressed by their observations…!

Rebecca (right) at the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts

“When I look at Chihuly’s work,” said Rebecca, age 13, “I feel like I’m part of his picture, part of the sculpture. Maybe that’s what he tries to do. He uses bright, shimmering colors and extravagant, intricate designs to make something almost unreal. I liked how he made each piece so that the light would shine through it, and make it almost glow. We saw a boat filled with abstract glass shapes and colors that spilled over the sides which made me think about what it must take to make something like that. There were gardens of glass that displayed the colors of the rainbow. There were rooms where the ceiling was covered in small glass figurines so when the light from the bulbs were lit up, the room would be filled with colorful light. It was amazing. These were sculptures that you can’t stop looking at, that don’t make sense, but still keep you staring. Magic. I didn’t know anything could look that beautiful, but it can.”

Rebecca, age 13, ACA Counselor in Training

Clara (left) basking in the glow of Chihuly...

“This Thursday, we visited the MFA – the museum of fine art,” Said CIT Clara, age 12. “I’ve always envisioned ‘Fine Art’ as a two-dimensional piece, such as a painting or a drawing. I also automatically assumed that to be considered fine art, the art had to be older; done by famous artists like Monet, or Vermeer. But the Chihuly exhibit caused me to completely change my mind set about art as a whole.

“I’ve seen glass blowing before, but never in this fashion. The colors and unique shapes were stunning. I could not believe my eyes – I had had absolutely no idea how much could be done with glass.  And I was inspired by the artist’s dedication – after a huge setback, he just changed his approach and continued working.

“But what I really enjoyed about the field trip was that the art was not only beautiful visually – it was thought-provoking. It was engaging to just sit and stare into the art, because it aroused so many memories and thoughts in my head. And now, I realize what fine art really is – art that makes you think.”

 Clara, age 12, ACA Counselor in Training

Want to see more? 
See the complete slideshow of the CIT field trip.