What does the thought of home mean to you? Come see any of the Flint Youth Theatre’s shows in the upcoming 2015-16 season and be intrigued by the different ways that the characters and stories approach the idea of home. The theme inspires audience members to ponder how a healthy sense of home can inspire and support them in their daily lives, as well as to analyze the ways that people with oppressive or challenging home environments view their lives and the society around them.
“We can think about home from a variety of points of view from the four walls you sleep in at night to your neighborhood, your church or your city,” explains Jeremy Winchester, Executive Artistic Director for FYT, which is a division of the Flint Institute of Music. “Home has a lot of different meanings. It helps to make us who we are and we carry that with us.”
The Theatre’s SummerStage series runs August 13-22 with Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, approaching the theme of home from a young person’s perspective. Two children are stuck at home on a rainy day, bored with nothing to do. How do they make the best use of their time from a kid’s perspective? Embark upon silly and exciting adventures with The Cat in the Hat, of course! The play is recommended for children ages 3 and older. Also in the SummerStage series is a famous play geared for ages 12 and up, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which runs August 14-23. The story portrays two teens who have fallen in love but whose choices are limited as the young girl’s father insists that she marry someone she doesn’t love. “They have to flee their home because their home has been made into a hostile environment for what they want out of life,” Jeremy says.
The MainStage series, which replaces the former Signature Series, includes some well-loved plays, including Little Women, The Wizard of Oz, Huck Finn and The Most (Blank) City in America. In Little Women, the sisters and their mother are left to deal with the challenges of home life after their father goes off to war. The classic story The Wizard of Oz portrays the idea of home by revealing how Dorothy’s initial feelings as an orphan living with her aunt and uncle eventually changed and how she came to value the place and the family that she ran away from. In Huck Finn, the thought of home is not pleasant for young Huck who leaves his abusive father and is able to create a new definition of home after making friends with Jim and floating on a raft down the Mississippi River. The unique perspectives of the characters in the MainStage series will enlighten audiences on what the idea of home means to each character, whether it’s a physical structure or a community of people, and how those characters are deeply affected and motivated by that.
The MainStage series ends with a serious play written by Andrew Morton, The Most (Blank) City in America that is sure to cut to the hearts of Flint residents in a personal way. The play examines what it means for residents to call Flint home while living in the center of a degrading social stigma of unflattering labels portrayed in the media based on crime rates and depressing economic and industrial news. “Some of the criticisms are accurate and we have the duty to address them if we choose to,” says Jeremy. “Lots of people are working hard to make things better, but it is hard when you’re told your city is dangerous and violent or you’re told that the city you love isn’t worth it.” The FYT has been discussing specific questions and issues with local people in story circles in order to gather information to use in the script. A June 27 story circle is planned at For-Mar Nature Preserve and the public is invited. Additional story circles will resume in the fall.