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Starkville Community Theaterâ€™s Project PLAY is taking participants on a trip to paradise this summer.
Created by M.J. Etua, Project PLAY celebrates its 14 year as a free, theatrical workshop and performance opportunity for Starkville children.
â€śWe give the chance for students to be creative by making this a group effort and work in progress,â€ť Etua said. â€śThe kids have input which lets them feel a sense of ownership of the play and the process.â€ť
Etua, who writes and directs each summerâ€™s original play, said this production will take place in Hawaii, a destination she has researched for some time.
â€śI was doing research on Hawaiiâ€™s conservation issues, and I thought it would make a really good play,â€ť she said. â€śWhat amazes me is how little we on the mainland know about Hawaii.â€ť
Titled â€śThe Gathering Place,â€ť this yearâ€™s production tells the story of hotel tycoon Boris Wellborn and his companyâ€™s destruction of the environment as he attempts to build a resort on one of Hawaiiâ€™s islands. After falling into a dream-like state, Wellborn meets the various creatures of Hawaiiâ€™s ecosystems and comes to terms with his part in destroying paradise, while given the opportunity to change.
â€śI wanted to cover everything from geography to culture to history,â€ť Etua said. â€śI wanted these kids to know Hawaii not just as a state.â€ť
Etua said Project PLAY has always provided the opportunity to teach children about all the aspects of theatre without being in an actual classroom.
â€śThere are a lot of talented kids in this community,â€ť she said. â€śIâ€™m very thankful to Starkville Community Theatre for providing this outlet.â€ť
Assistant director Janis Ross said she is excited to work with Etua again on â€śThe Gathering Place,â€ť her second production with Project PLAY.
â€śItâ€™s just a lot of fun,â€ť Ross said. â€śThe kids have been awesome and they are really coming out of their shells.â€ť
While in charge of 50-60 children, Ross said she is thankful for the help she receives from participantsâ€™ parents during the rehearsal process.
â€śItâ€™s always so important to have help from the parents,â€ť she said. â€śHaving them there adds a certain calm to the situation.â€ť
Above all, Ross said she is thankful for Project PLAY and the opportunity it provides for children to create and explore.
â€śThe arts are so important,â€ť Ross said. â€śBecause this is free, it gives some kids the chance to do theatre that may not have been able to before.â€ť
Project PLAY will present â€śThe Gathering Placeâ€ť June 25-30 at the Starkville Community Theater located at 108 East Main St. in downtown Starkville.
For more information, visit http://www.sct-online.org or call the box office at 662-323-6855.