By Cathleen Twardzik
On June 8 at 10 a.m. at the Union Square Farmers Market in Union Square in Somerville, a show by Wild Tales entitled What Makes a City Grow: a Tale of Two Cities will be presented.
Children, all of whom are from the Mystic Learning Center, as well as the Somerville community and have an interest in urban ecology, will perform in the musical.
Currently in its 4th season, “Wild Tales is a free after school club where children aged 6 to 13 learn about urban ecology and then they create an original musical play. The ideas for each play come from the teachers and children, alike. This year, we wanted to write a play about where we live, what makes a home, especially in a city, for people, animals and plants,” said Liza Kitchell, producer of Wild Tales.
Akin to the last three Wild Tales shows, urban ecology is the theme.
This year, the production will include the songs Over the Rainbow, I Love Cities and What Makes a City Grow?, all of which are adaptations of popular songs.
Twice each week for ten weeks, 24 children participated in the program. The initial four weeks were spent engaging in theater and music games, which enabled the children to discover what home means to plants, people and animals, which inhabit a city.
After the play’s auditions, 11 children were selected to act in the production, and the remainder of them were placed on “the production crew, and they helped to make the sets, painting felt flowers and bugs, and painting silk banners. Some of them will be stage hands, too,” said Kitchell.
This year’s play will look at the parallel natural universe that lives alongside the man made one inside our city. In What Makes a City Grow two children, Dorothy and Toto, move to Somerville when their mother gets a job as a teacher. Dorothy and Toto suddenly learn some shocking news from the friendly bugs and birds who live in a largely unseen world.
They tell them that Mr. Krabbs, an evil developer, has an outrageous plan that threatens everyone’s health and happiness. Quickly, the two cities learn to work together to ensure that Somerville stays green and growing in all the right ways.
Wild Tales was born when Kitchell wanted a “fun” idea for her daughter and her friends to learn more in depth about ecology.
The initial two plays’ rehearsals and performances took place at the Growing Center in Somerville. Then, in 2012, Kitchell started to collaborate with Heather McCormack at the Mystic Learning Center. “We performed last year’s play at the Mystic River Watershed Association’s (MyRWA) annual Run & Paddle event at the Mystic River,” she said.
This year, the Union Square Farmers Market was chosen because “I love farmers markets. They are great places for families, and I thought the theme of keeping Somerville healthy and green for kids would resonate well with the Farmers Market,” said Kitchell.
Heather McCormack wrote and directed this play. She wanted to focus this year’s theme on what makes a home, especially in a city.
What does the future hold for Wild Tales? “I’m already excited about doing a show next spring,” said Kitchell. “The kids in the program are great, and the staff that work on the show are wonderful. We have no idea what the theme for our show for next year will be, the idea usually just comes up spontaneously. Our past themes have been wildlife in the city, urban farming and the herring run.”
The free event was funded by a Somerville Arts Council (SAC) grant. The SAC has always funded Wild Tales’ shows, and children are encouraged to attend.
So, come to the June 8 Union Square Farmers Market to buy local, fresh produce, and then, and remain for the show.