A student from William Chrisman High School is amazed as Donna Miller-Brown (kneeling), production manager at the Kauffman Center, explains the mechanics of stage lighting. The virtual Backstage Intensive program brings theater expertise directly to the classroom via an online portal with video demonstrations, vocabulary worksheets, classroom discussion questions and more. (photo by Sarah Milosevich)
As we jump into a new school year, spotlight the arts in your classroom with help from the Kauffman Center. Whether students enjoy a video performance or are interested in what happens backstage, these experiences can come straight to your classroom. The Kauffman Center invites students and educators to connect with virtual educational resources that are sure to captivate and cultivate young minds and their love of the arts.
Raise the Curtain on Backstage Careers
Journey behind the curtain and witness the magic that goes into executing a live performance. The Kauffman Center’s Backstage Intensive program introduces high school students to careers in technical theater through a series of videos and interactive activities. Watch an expert demonstrate the art of sound engineering and lighting design through virtual video tours, which give students an up-close look at the technical elements of live theater. Learn how the scenic crews rig and fly scenery, and hear staff explain the glamour — and challenges — of managing a complex theater production. The Backstage Intensive program includes supplemental resources, like comprehension questions, vocabulary and activities to tailor the experience to individual student interests.
Supported by a grant from Cerner Charitable Foundation, the Backstage Intensive program began as in-person workshops at the Kauffman Center. Now, students can also engage with the program via the virtual portal launched in January 2021. Kauffman Center invites educators and classrooms to join its growing list of virtual participating high schools, including Lee’s Summit North, Olathe West, William Chrisman, Raytown South and Grandview. Students will get a rare look at the behind-the-scenes elements that are essential to create a successful production.
Spooky Superstitions with Scary Mary Bumbershoot
In this fun four-part series, the Kauffman Center joins forces with Mesner Puppet Theater to shed a little (ghost) light on theater lore and superstitions. In these short videos, puppet Scary Mary Bumbershoot visits Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall, telling tales of the ghost light, the “Scottish play,” origins of “Break a Leg” and why you should never whistle in the theater. Students will be entertained by the engaging rhymes and gain an appreciation of the many lores of theater history. Filled with ancient tales, these videos are perfect for all ages.
Hear the Sweet Sound of the “King of Instruments”
Sit alongside Kauffman Center Organ Conservator Jan Kraybill in a series of videos as she plays six compositions on the magnificent Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875. Students will be amazed at the skill it takes to play this “King of Instruments” and get an up-close view of the complexities of performing a pipe organ. The accompanying downloadable Classroom Guide shares fun facts about the organ, provides vocabulary practice and sparks stirring conversations through discussion questions. Now, you can bring the pipe organ’s four keyboards, 5,548 individually tuned pipes and world-class sound directly into the classroom.
Celebrate Day of the Dead, From Monarchs to Marigolds
Watch a video of local visual artist Vania Soto as she creates a colorful painting of a girl in traditional Day of the Dead makeup. Painting beautiful marigolds and monarchs, Soto explains the traditions and meanings of these iconic symbols. Rejoicing in the holiday’s history and what it means to her, this video brings light to the vibrant celebration. Through this perfect introduction to Day of the Dead, students will learn and appreciate the significance and beauty of this holiday.
The Kauffman Center wants to be a part of your student’s classroom. To explore these programs and connect to more educational resources, visit kauffmancenter.org/education.