As Lucinda and I approach the end of our first year of home schooling, I want to thank you because you have been a big part of making it a rich and exciting year, opening up worlds of possibility for learning and growing beyond the mainstream classroom. We didn’t leave public school because Lucinda was struggling or doing poorly or having social problems. She was doing well by all outward measures. But as her mom, I saw the price she paid to sit still, listening and doing worksheets for seven hours a day, with fifteen minutes to wolf down lunch and fifteen minutes to run around on a small stretch of blacktop. I saw where the stifled energy and enforced boredom would eventually lead–to a dulling of her joy and curiosity in the world around her. I knew there had to be a better way.
Enter Lightsaber 101! And Viking warfare. And Wand and Sword. And Princess Bride. Suddenly the worlds she loved to read and draw and write about came alive as classroom and playground, and she could live and have agency within them, in body, mind and spirit. What you do with kids is nothing short of phenomenal.
Reflecting back the last few weeks on the intense and wonderful experience of being part of the cast of Princess Bride, Lucinda has shared stories, thoughts and feelings about it, a couple of which I thought you’d like to hear.
Even though she was new and one of the younger kids, she felt immediately enfolded into the group. She said it wasn’t like school, where kids band together only with kids in their grade, and everyone younger is uncool. Once during rehearsal they were backstage waiting for their cue to go on. Grace had pulled Lucinda onto her lap. Then, when it was time for Grace to go on stage, she picked Lucinda up and handed her to Sydney, who took over, tucking Lu onto her lap. Lu laughs when telling this story of being handed off from one teen to another, but besides being fun, it made her feel loved and supported as a younger, newer cast member.
Lu told various stories about how you taught them to express emotions on stage, and the effect it had on her. She said of the experience: “We might come in [to rehearsal] with some kind of bad feeling inside us, resentment or anger, but then we pour it all into acting it out on stage, and we express all this anger or all this hate that our character is feeling, and then at the end of the day, when we leave, we don’t feel anger or resentment inside us any more. We just feel calm and happy.” Wow.
Joy and gratitude,
“I wanted to say thanks for your dedication to the kids. I know managing such a large group of kids can be challenging at times. This run seemed especially taxing, having so much to do, with so many kids, and with such an awful virus making the rounds! I appreciate your playful, yet firm approach. You manage to bring the best out in the kids. I’m especially thankful for the welcoming and nurturing sense of family you’ve created within the group – it is a wonderful accomplishment in any group of kids, but especially important to our homeschool kids. I’m very happy Sean has had the opportunity to work with you and Rick. You’ve probably heard all this before, but I really am grateful. Thanks :)” — Kathy
“Working with E.D.G.E. Theater has been a fantastic experience for both our daughter and son. Of all the theater our family has taken part in, this has been the most enjoyable experience for our kids. They are eager for every rehearsal and leave each practice feeling charged and excited for their performances.” Amanda Greco Holmes
“We’ve been going to EDGE productions for years and have always enjoyed them. This year my daughters finally had a chance to take a class with Orion and they are so glad they did!” Denise Graf
“When I first met the director of EDGE, at the In Home Conference, he looked directly at my son who will never have a conversation with people he doesn’t know and said, “Are you ready to fight some dragons!”, at which point my son and he had at least a 5 minute conversation. This is when I knew driving to Chicago was worth every penny in gas to be a part of a wonderful experience and I have not regretted it for the past 4 years we have been there. “ DeLynn Zielinski
My two kids have participated in several of EDGE’s creative productions over the years and have LOVED them. They’ve inhabited roles as varied as King Arthur, Beowulf, a Viking maiden, Robin Hood, a gravelly voiced troll, an English peasant, an angry taunting French Guard, a kid brother worried about the neighborhood vampires, a security guard, an animate candle stick, an equally animate feather duster (both in Beauty and the Beast), two angst-filled teens in The Breakfast Club, and more recently a Ghostbuster, a menacing staypuff marshmallow man, and a dwarf on a mission (The Hobbit). All of these roles are with Orion’s EDGE Youth Theater. My kids have also been able to participate in Orion’s community theater group where they worked with adults as they played Fleance and Learner in a very well received and glowingly reviewed Macbeth/Starwars mashup. Orion is one of the most creative, enthusiastic, insightful, and sensitive teachers my kids have ever had. His understanding of kid energy and how to channel it is admirable. Highly recommended! Laura Gallagher
“My kids love Orion! He pushes them in healthy ways to learn about themselves and the world around us. He encourages kids to be themselves and to appropriately express their feelings. In his classes, kids are allowed to be themselves and assert their independence while also being a part of a group and making art.” Winifred Haun
“EDGE classes offer my son a high quality, professional production experience. Orion provides instruction beyond your typical introductory, drama games-type class, and empowers kids by teaching them in-depth theatre techniques using hands-on methods like stage combat & set design, in a supportive & fun atmosphere.” – Kathy Zielinski
“Orion’s classes encourage children to use imaginative play in order to explore their emotions, master their fears, and develop resilience. Orion created a special class for our small group, which allowed our children to dive into their developmentally appropriate struggles with aggression, competition, loss, friendship, and loyalty. My children’s own sibling relationships were deeply enriched by Orion’s supportive, creative, and courageous classes.” – Dana B.
“Orion and Rick created a unique class for my children and the children of some friends. Originally, I thought that the class was about stage combat and sword play – the perfect antidote to a long winter! However, I was surprised by Orion and Rick’s understanding of the hearts, minds, and inner worlds of children. Dramatic play was integrated with explorations of ethics and personal conduct in ways that the children could hear and use in their own lives. My son was challenged to think about how he treats other people and handles his relationships. Now my daughter can’t wait to join the next class! I feel lucky to have these guys spending time with my kids – these classes are good for them physically, mentally, and emotionally. And what fun to watch!” — Melissa
“Orion is a really great teacher that always makes class fun. And you feel so proud of yourself after the play, it is just AMAZING!” — Toby age 8
“I really like doing shows with Orion!” — Liam age 8
“Liam totally blossomed in the Princess Bride. Orion somehow knew he was capable of amazing things!” — Rebecca, Liam’s Mom
“While Callum loved Battle Chess, I had to talk him into doing Richard III. He is so glad he did, and LOVES acting and being a part of a play. He cannot wait until the next play and the next session. It has opened up a new world to Him. Thank You!!!” — Karen
“Orion brings enthusiasm and creativity to his classes that kids really enjoy!” — Mari