Director Christy Summerhays' takeaway from Plan-B's Free Elementary School Tour

Christy Summerhays directed Plan-B’s first Free Elementary School Tour, Sergei Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF in partnership with Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, which was seen by more than 10,000 elementary students. Davis Arts Council and Salt Lake Symphony partnered on various legs of the tour.

When I’m asked what super power I would choose (a question that comes up surprisingly often) I always say, The Ability to Become Invisible. I would LOVE to stand in front of a movie theatre, for instance, and watch people watching a movie.  I like the idea of being able to see people as they truly are.

The closest I have come to fulfilling this fantasy is when I got to take Plan-B’s production of Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF to elementary schools. Usually when a production is up and running the director’s job is finished and she moves on to other things. Luckily for me we needed someone to run the projections for these school shows and I took over. I would set up the projector behind a large screen that we ritualistically assembled at each new school and find a place I could sit to push my buttons.  Inevitably I would have a perfect view of the children sitting on the edges of the auditorium and my wish to be invisible would come true…for about 45 minutes.  It was heavenly.  When Kary Billings played Aaron Copland’s “Ho Down” the little kindergarteners couldn’t help but move their fingers wildly, immediately imagining they could keep up with Kary’s keyboard acrobatics.

And then, as Jay Perry told the story of PETER AND THE WOLF and introduced the actions the students would be performing along with him, those kids, unselfconsciously, would jump in, with all their hearts and souls, eyes alit, and become one with the music and the story it accompanied.  Each time we performed the piece, I would say to myself, “they will never forget this”.  And even better, I knew that some of them would be inspired to delve into the musical or performance arts because a seed was planted, as it was with me, at a live performance when I was a child.  I was happy that I got to be a small part of creating something that had the power to bring so much energy to a room and perhaps even impact the lives of these small, precious beings, who would never understand why I would choose invisibility over being able to fly. In my mind I was doing a bit of both.

Click here to support Plan-B’s Free Elementary School Tour as part of #GivingTuesday!

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