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Child’s Play

Theater and puzzles take us back to the ­kingdom of imagination

     Continuing Bay Weekly’s celebration of summer, this week we focus on child’s play.
    Nobody plays as wholeheartedly as a child. Do you remember your dedication when you were a child at play? How putting your hands on the simplest thing opened the universe of your imagination?
    I had three favorite talismans for entering the world of make believe: my dollhouse, paper dolls and my collection of horse statues. For my sons, the transporter was racing Hot Wheels and slot cars. For my grandson, it’s Minecraft. “Nothing else comes close,” says Jack’s father Alex. “Not even eating or sleeping.”
    The kids featured in this week’s paper take pretend beyond the realm of the imagination onto the stage.
    Every Saturday through August 2, Infinity Theater plays The Emperor’s New Clothes, which Jim Reiter writes in this week’s review, “gives young audiences as well as adults a taste of professional theater.” Adults — from company principals Anna Roberts Ostroff and Alan Ostroff to director/choregrapher Erin Gorski to the ones who bring the kids — make it happen. But upfront this is theater for kids and by kids, with four young Infinity interns dividing many roles.
    The Talent Machine’s talented pre-teens and teens are putting their shows on the boards this month and next. Bay Weekly intern Madeline Hughes, herself a teen, introduces you to the kids performing Peter Pan July 11 to 20. For them, putting on plays is make believe with real world dividends. “As actors,” she writes, “they learn to manage their time, to carry on when things don’t go according to plan and to work with different people. Most of all, they learn to believe in themselves, gaining confidence.”
    The Peter Pan cast are kids seven to 14. Next month, August 8 to 17, high schoolers take the stage in The Wedding Singer.
    Both of these productions are performed in local colleges: Anne Arundel Community College for The ­Emperor’s New Clothes; St. John’s College for Peter Pan.
    In Calvert County, Twin Beach Players’ Youth Troupe has just staged Harvey. “The teen actors playing grown-ups are mature in roles and dramatic skills. No one missed a beat — or a line,” wrote Bay Weekly reviewer Michelle Steel of their work.
    Now, more kids are preparing for their turn on stage. Twenty-five aspiring playwrights from elementary to high school created plays for Twin Beach Players’ annual Kids Playwriting Festival. Six winning playwrights are now preparing works for production — by kids — August 1 to 10.
    With so much talent, we recruited some for our pages. This week, you’ll read a one-act play by two young local playwrights — Anna Gorenflo and Jeffrey Thompson — who’ve had six plays produced in earlier Festivals. This play — Holmes and Watson Make the Best Summer Ever.
    Read on and see if that brilliant best friend of childhood still returns to you.


Playing at Puzzles
    For adults, puzzles are like Peter Pan, helping us return to the elusive, meditative and creative land of childhood. Among the 21 Reasons People Play Puzzles (www.conceptispuzzles.com): calming and challenging their minds. Like the kids of Talent Machine, we learn more than meets the eye from working puzzles: Puzzles teach us not to give up, help us form habits of behavior and reward us with repeated moments of accomplishment. Millions of Americans can’t start their day without taking on the crossword, Steve Kroft reported in a 2003 60 Minutes story.
    Throughout July, we’ll keep bringing you new and different puzzles. We depend on you to work them and to report your results and satisfaction: editor@bayweekly.com.