THE PINBALLS by Aurand Harris
Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts – Black Box Theatre
FRIDAY, JULY 29TH at 7PM
SATURDAY, JULY 30TH at 2PM
Just when you begin to think today’s youth will never amount to anything, just when the Delaware Park Rose garden is vandalized or there is another spate of graffiti, Buffalo’s kids do something remarkable and restore one’s faith in the future.
Students from the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts (BAVPA) have teamed up with Child and Family Services of Erie County, Inc. to present the play THE PINBALLS. Written by Aurand Harris and adapted from the children’s book by Betsy Byars, THE PINBALLS tells the story of three foster children, “desperately searching for a safe place to call home. They are taken in by the lovely Mrs. Mason who gives them the greatest gift of all, a chance to experience family and hope.”
BAVPA is, of course, one Buffalo’s educational success stories, encouraging thoughtful and creative interaction with the larger community. Students from BAVPA recently produced an independent and well-received production of TICK, TICK, BOOM !
Child and Family Services of Erie County, Inc., is an organization that works on behalf of foster children in our area. The student will donate a portion of the show’s proceeds to benefit Child & Family Services. . A pre-show introduction and post-show talkback with real foster kids and professionals who have experienced “the system” will frame the drama. The kids hope that maybe they will convince some folks to open their hearts and homes to a foster child in need.
I spoke with Kelli M.Beuth, a wonderful actor and teacher, who is the advisor to the BAVPA students and directs this production. Kelly is one of those wonderful teachers who really gives her all and throws herself 100% into her projects. This particular project was a happy coincidence.
Ms. Beuth explained how the project bega : “This project came about following a BAVPA faculty meeting where Maggie Gloria, a caseworker at Child and Family Services, came to speak to the faculty about becoming potential foster parents. There is such an immense shortage, particularly for older kids, that she thought that approaching the very people who spend each and every day with teenagers, might be an “untapped resource”. I had coincidentally been reading THE PINBALLS with my students in the eighth grade, and after discussing it with my principal (a two time adoptive parent himself) we came up with the idea of a summer production where we could spread the word about foster kids and the need for foster parents, as well as raise some funds for all that Child and Family Services does to help young people.”
The piece will be performed by six high school students from the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. Most are theatre majors at the school…four – Kajana Stover, Diamond Turner, Travis LeFevre and Niahjel Hunley are freshmen, and two, Pandora Kew and Perris Fortson, are juniors. Kelly M. Beuth. as noted, directs the piece.
In addition to her role as director, Ms. Beuth role is also, for the most part, the producer. The students, with Ms. Beuth’s guidance, have by and large undertaken all of the work necessary, coordinating costumes and props, painting and dressing the set, and all other necessary details. They also have received great support and assistance from many BAVPA staff members, notably Darren Brown (principal), Chris George (Arts Coordinator), Ivan Gonzalez (Poster Design), Gerry Durak (Set Construction). They have been generous volunteering their time to ensure that this project is a success.
Ms. Beuth and her students hope that through this project, they will gain awareness for the need for foster families in the Western New York. When speaking with C&FS, they learned that many people are afraid to open their homes and hearts to teenagers…in many cases they almost fear them. ” We want everyone out there to understand that teenager or not, broken home or not, everyone needs the stability to know that they have a roof over their head and a place to call home.,” said Ms. Beuth.
When asked “Why are you involved in this project?” the students replies (below) were the kind that really do restore one’s faith in the future.
Travis LeFevre: “I wanted to do this production of THE PINBALLS, not only for the learning experience, but for the good cause.”
Kajana Stover: “I wanted to do this production of THE PINBALLS because it has multiple benefits. I can stretch my acting abilities, have something to do with part of my summer, and raise awareness for foster children. I think its really cool that we’re helping others. I hope plenty of people come out and support it.”
Niahjel Hunley: “When I learned about this play, I was very interested and curious about it. What I’ve learned is that this is more than just a play. It’s not just to entertain, it’s to inform as well and give a very serious message. I really support the theme of the need for foster care and I feel we all should.”
Pandora Kew: “Being in THE PINBALLS is extremely rewarding. I love acting, but when you know that you’re doing something extraordinary, it means so much more. I hope PINBALLS will not only open the eyes of the audience like it has mine, but show people that we can make a difference.”
Perris Fortson: “There are a few reasons why I wanted to be in this wonderful production. Not only because it was another chance to be directed by the amazing Kelly Beuth, but because the story actually spoke out to me. I have always been aware of the foster home situation. I have known (or still know) people who are either adopted, or are still waiting. I feel that this play discusses all of the aspects that children in foster homes face – like not feeling that they belong, or trying to cope with their new environment. After seeing this play, hopefully adults will realize the circumstances of being in a foster home and possibly consider the possibility of adoption.”
Asked why Buffalo Rising readers should care about this production Ms. Beuth replied “Well… we hear in the news all the time about the “problem children” of the Buffalo Schools…and constant negativity about the system, its teachers, etc. There are so many amazing projects like this going on in our district each and every day, I think it is important to highlight them and make people aware of the incredible accomplishments that our wonderful children are making to the community around them.”
I can’t think of a better answer.
Come and see the wildly talented theatre majors from the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts as they BAVPA has teamed up for this venture Featuring BAVPA Students: Pandora Kew, Perris Fortson, Kajana Stover, Diamond Turner, Niahjel Hunley & Travis LeFevre. Directed by Kelly M. Beuth
TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY:
Friday July 29, 7 pm
Saturday July 30, 2 pm
Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts
Black Box Theatre
450 Masten Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14209
Tickets are $6.00 General Admission and $3.00 for children and seniors.
Tickets are only available at the door.