On my most recent trip back to North Beach, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of community. Feeling vibrant and alive from walking the neighborhood hills on a crisp December evening, I found myself suddenly surrounded by warmth and laughter as I stepped into the twinkling lights of Yick Wo Elementary’s garden party, a simple but lovely event celebrating their young artists.

IMG_3934FOGG Playhouse’s set designer, renowned artist, and Yick Wo mom, Nora Vandenberg, recently took on the role of the school’s resident art teacher and, with the help of countless other parents, transformed the little garden and playground corridor into another one of her magical sets, brilliantly showcasing the artwork of her students.

More than once I paused in all the blissful chaos as kids ran through, showing off their art, laughing and playing with each other, and marveled at all the FOGG Playhouse families around me.

I realized that many of these families had grown with FOGG Playhouse from its inception, and were steadily spreading the love to the rest of the neighborhood. By sourcing our artists, both youth and adults, directly from our community, we commit to a sustainable system of theatre and arts education that grows as we grow.

As we expand our offerings from summer camps and productions, to fun, relaxed educational classes, we give our youth community the chance to evolve with us and find the right form of expression to best match each individual child.

As we deepen our impact on the community, we look to our Playhouse youth to remind us what unbridled joy and creativity look like, and we strive to create the structures that will support and showcase their talents and dreams.

We ask that as this year draws to a close, please consider investing in our expanding Playhouse community and the greater world community that will someday be driven by these kids. When you donate to FOGG Playhouse, you are investing in the future, by giving voice, empathy, and expression to our next generation.

Wouldn’t it be a true gift back to all of us to have empathetic, joyful, expressive and compassionate adults running the show?

Alison Faith Levy, renowned Bay Area children’s musician and beloved FOGG Playhouse teaching artist, reflects on her summer camp experience and gives us a taste of her new FOGG Playhouse class this spring for ages 4-5 yrs, and how she sources performance material right from her students.

Thank you, Allison, for a building our community to include some of the Bay Area’s youngest collaborators of original musical theatre! (We are still accepting students for Alison’s upcoming after-school classes at Garfield Elementary this January.)

IMG_3387This past summer I led my first musical theatre camp for FOGG Playhouse, a musical writing workshop for 7-9 year olds called “Mad-Libs: The Musical.” The kids and I had such an amazing time! I came in with the barest bones of a story idea, one fully-written song, and a few musical style ideas – and together we fleshed out the story and characters, and decided on where our new songs should go and what genres they should be. We had a hip-hop song, a ballad, a Broadway pop song and a sing and dance-along finale. Each day we started with an art project – mostly creating set pieces for our final performance (the theme was fog and rainbows). Then we would do a few improv games to warm up, practice some singing, and after a quick trip to the playground for snack time we’d work on our songwriting and rehearse our emerging musical numbers. It was such a blast! The kids were really engaged and creative, and I was amazed at how quickly they were able to memorize material and perform it. I truly love brainstorming and writing musical theatre with kids, and I look forward to doing it again next year!

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