Meet our Education Coordinator Henia Belalia!

Henia Belalia has joined Plan-B’s staff as our Education Coordinator…as of yesterday! A French-Algerian immigrant, Henia earned her BA from UCSD with a double major in Psychology & Theatre. Fluent in English, Spanish and French (with a little Arabic in the mix as well!), she has trained at Teatro Che y Moche in Spain and Cutting Ball Theatre in San Francisco, founded Teatrofilia and acted in Paris. She has extensive experience working with children in both educational  and social justice settings using theatrical techniques. Henia is the former Executive Director of Peaceful Uprising here in Salt Lake City and has an infectious passion for building community. As a youth of color, growing up in a multicultural urban setting, most of my mentors and teachers never looked like me. Too many of my cousins and childhood friends never had the opportunity to access higher education, and, like many youth, became disposable to their institutions, as they fell through the cracks. It took years for me to realize how much that had impacted my psyche, making me feel unworthy and ashamed of my ethnicity and cultural heritage. While navigating systems and making my way to college, I continued to hide, losing many parts of myself along the way. Reminiscing on my own journey, I knew I wanted to provide youth in my community with another experience. My professional experience with youth is extensive and multifaceted, ranging from early childcare and afterschool programs to teaching in classrooms, tutoring and mentoring at-risk youth. Bringing art to youth, and more specifically theatre, is important to me, given the pivotal role artistic expression plays in a child’s development, social consciousness and emotional...

9-year-old Presley Josephine Caywood reviews THE EDIBLE COMPLEX

Presley Josephine Caywood is a fourth grader at Wasatch Elementary. She attended a dress rehearsal of THE EDIBLE COMPLEX by Melissa Leilani Larson this week – below is her review. So, my mom told me that we were going to go see show called THE EDIBLE COMPLEX. She told me what the show was about and I was really excited. We were recently talking about food and the food groups. I was comparing myself to some other kids in school. Was I skinny enough? Was I healthy enough? Seeing THE EDIBLE COMPLEX made me feel a lot better about myself. I was expecting the actors in the show to talk about the food groups and what you are supposed to eat, but it was totally different because it talked about not comparing yourself to others. The play also talked about foods like cheese burgers and tacos. I also noticed that being happy is healthy. When the main character did unhealthy things (like not eat) she wasn’t very happy with herself or her life. The director [Cheryl Cluff] did a fine job. I like that they decided to use a small space for the stage. The staging looked very realistic but you could also tell when Anna (the main character [Anne Louise Brings]) was changing environments by how she moved around the set. The costumes [designed by Aaron Swenson] were really cool. I also liked the diversity in the actors. Inserted Mom comment: “I raised my eyebrows at her when I read that last sentence. Presley responded quickly with a sassy, ‘What? You didn’t think I would notice that?'” The actor...

Ten Foods I Like An Awful Lot: Melissa Leilani Larson’s THE EDIBLE COMPLEX opens October 8

Melissa Leilani Larson returns to Plan-B with THE EDIBLE COMPLEX following PILOT PROGRAM in 2015. Other recent productions include PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (BYU), MARTYRS’ CROSSING (Edinburgh Fringe), LITTLE HAPPY SECRETS (SLAC’s Fearless Fringe). Current projects: JANE AND EMMA (Clearstone Productions), EAST OF THE SUN (workshop, Nautilus Music Theatre), SWEETHEART COME (2016 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist). Film: FREETOWN (2015 Ghana Movie Award, Best Screenplay). Dramatists Guild ambassador for Utah, MFA from Iowa Playwrights Workshop. THE EDIBLE COMPLEX, created specifically for grades 4-6, opens October 8 with a public performance as part of Repertory Dance Theatre’s RING AROUND THE ROSE Series before touring to more than 40 elementary schools in 6 counties as Plan-B’s 4th annual Free Elementary School Tour (presented in Davis County by Davis Arts Council and in Wayne County by the Entrada Institute). THE EDIBLE COMPLEX  includes ten foods as characters that Mel likes an awful lot. Yes, the Food acts too. She we asked her to tell us why!  1. The Grilled Cheese Sandwich is the first food to make an appearance in THE EDIBLE COMPLEX, and for good reason. It’s one of the first things I learned to cook for myself when I was a kid, and it’s still very much a favorite. So simple to make, and yet incredibly satisfying. And—like the Grilled Cheese in the play says herself—so good with a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk. 2. Sometimes I trick myself into being healthful. Sometimes friends help. A good friend who is a great cook often invites me to join him and his family for dinner. One thing he makes that I never tire of: Turkey Tacos. Supposedly...

Announcing the 2016/17 Season

The 2016/17 season explores what it means to speak the truth, featuring world premieres by four Utah playwrights. Subscriptions are $53 and include ONE BIG UNION by Debora Threedy, VIRTUE by Tim Slover and NOT ONE DROP by Morag Shepherd. THE EDIBLE COMPLEX by Melissa Leilani Larson is available as an add-on for $6. Click here to subscribe. ONE BIG UNION | a world premiere by Debora Threedy |  November 10-20, 2016 Joe Hill was executed in 1915 by the state of Utah for a murder he may or may not have committed. Considered a martyr by organized labor, Joe Hill’s songs envisioned gender and racial equality and criticized the gross income disparities of his time. Joe Hill remains an enigmatic folk hero but beyond the mythology lies a larger story of protest through music, more relevant than ever a century after his death. From the author of THE END OF THE HORIZON, WALLACE and THE THIRD CROSSING. A play with music featuring Daniel Beecher, Carleton Bluford, Roger Dunbar, April Fossen, Tracie Merrill and Jay Perry. Musically directed by David Evanoff, choreographed by Stephanie Howell, directed by Jason Bowcutt.   VIRTUE | a world premiere by Tim Slover | February 16-26, 2017 Poet, composer, writer, herbologist, midwife and Christian mystic, Abbess Hildegard would have been a revolutionary now as well as in the Twelfth Century when she lived. Her vigorous, otherworldly life raises profound questions: In a battle between spiritual conviction and institutional rules, which should win? What counts for more: theology or experience? And especially, who may we love? A play with music featuring Jay Perry, Shane Rogers, Emilie Eileen Starr and...

Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett's takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Matthew Ivan Bennett’s anti-bullying play DIFFERENT=AMAZING was seen by more than 12,000 students, grades 4-6, between February and October 2014 as part of Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour. Davis Arts Council, Good Company Theatre and Art Access partnered on various stages of the tour. In a way, even though we’ve toured the show twice and the piece has been published, the work of DIFFERENT=AMAZING goes on. Following years of false starts, I’m finally allowing myself to write a little fiction—and my character and story is set in the sixth grade. The stack of shakily handwritten letters and pictures we got from elementary kids (when we were researching D=A) turns out to have yanked on a long thread in my extra-large sweater armor. Because of D=A, I’ve remembered things that I’d forgotten. For instance, I used to wear extra layers of clothes as armor. I would literally wear sweaters as armor . . . The last live show I saw was at Bluffdale Elementary in October. I watched actors Tyson Baker and Latoya Rhodes with a half-smiling envy. As they greeted the students, slapping hands and talking Minecraft, I felt so adult. Too adult. Too adult maybe to have written the piece. But when it got underway, and the students were giggling, or quiet, I realized innocence is at least half vulnerability. No matter how much I’ve armored myself, it means something to admit how weak or afraid I once was. Some of my armor, growing up, was words. I protected myself with a big vocabulary and I saw that too as I watched the actors jungle-gym through the show....

Actor Tyson Baker's takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Tyson Baker spent most of 2014 performing in Matthew Ivan Bennett’s anti-bullying play DIFFERENT=AMAZING, which was seen by more than 12,000 students, grades 4-6, between February and October 2014 as part of Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour. Davis Arts Council, Good Company Theatre and Art Access partnered on various stages of the tour. DIFFERENT=AMAZING was beautiful in its honesty and simplicity. The idea: Advocating anti-bullying in elementary schools. The ingredients: A short, honest, fun kids touring show based on real-life accounts of bullying. A time frame of 40 minutes. Two actors. Two pairs of black All-Star Converse. A black bench. Two long-sleeve t-shirts. And willing ears. So how did it go? It was an amazing success! My beautiful and talented co-conspirator Latoya Rhodes and I toured to close to 50 schools along the Wasatch Front. We went to elementary schools, libraries, private academies, art galleries, boys & girls clubs and theaters. We even got to go to my old Junior High, Snowcrest Jr. High in Eden where my Mom still teaches P.E., Health and Spanish. We performed for my Mom’s 8th grade Health class and Mrs. Bulloch’s (my old Drama teacher!) 7th grade class. After our last performance, Mrs. Bulloch asked if we could play some acting games with the kids. Latoya and I goofed off with them for ten or fifteen minutes, the bell rang and the kids started to file out to the busses to take them home. Lingering behind was this young African-American girl, buried beneath these large, black-rimmed vintage glasses. She approached us timidly and struck up a conversation. She asked us about the stories, if they...

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