All About ONCE UPON A THEATRE
ONCE UPON A THEATRE, a
non-profit New Mexico corporation, is a touring theatre company dedicated to improving
the education of children in our community. ONCE UPON A THEATRE's program
is designed to bring into schools the joy, excitement and developmental and academic stimulus of quality live theatre and assist teachers in maximizing the experience through effective teaching tools before and after performances.
ONCE UPON A THEATRE is an out growth
of Executive/Artistic Director Myrna Smyer's award winning
children's theatre series, "Once Upon A Rhyme".
During the ten year period from 1987 to 1997, the "Once
Upon A Rhyme" plays were performed for approximately
70,000 children and adults in six Southwestern states.
The series won a First Place Award For Quality in
Education from the New Mexico Research and Study Council
and the University of New Mexico in 1989-90 and
in 1995 received the Albuquerque Arts Alliance Bravos
Award for outstanding contribution to arts in
education. It was due to the successful ten year run
of the "Once Upon A Rhyme" series, and the
critical need for the children of our area to receive
more exposure to the arts, that ONCE UPON
A THEATRE was formed.
UPON A THEATRE's productions include experienced adult actors, full costuming and detailed sets that are fully portable so they may be taken to schools throughout the Albuquerque metropolitan area and to surrounding communities within a 50 mile radius of the city. However, the portability does not sacrifice the quality of the visual beauty of the presentations. By performing in schools, ONCE UPON A THEATRE eliminates the coordination and expense of arranging transportation for off-site productions, and less time away from the classroom is required.
A THEATRE's Teacher Activity/Study Guides with previewing information and post-viewing activities are sent to the schools in advance of the performance. At the beginning of each presentation there is an introduction period to explain the production, add historical information, and inform the young people about audience etiquette and participation. The performance is followed by a question and answer period with the young audience. Teachers may then use the Activity/Study Guide to assist them in incorporating innovative drama techniques into their classroom curriculum. These activities are simple, practical, and fun. But, most important, we are told by many teachers that they really enjoy using them. The activities, based on the production, go beyond the arts and provide relevant research projects and exercises in areas such as science, geography, history, social studies, literature, reading, listening, and Character Counts.
ONCE UPON A THEATRE designs two separate productions each school year. Fall Productions - for children in kindergarten through fifth grade are original versions of classic fairy tales. These plays are from the award winning "Once Upon A Rhyme" children's theatre series written by ONCE UPON A THEATRE's Executive/Artistic Director Myrna Smyer. These unique adaptations, written partially in rhyme, deliver positive messages about diversity, friendship, caring and the power of love and acceptance. Spring Productions - for fourth through eighth grade students, are original presentations or adaptations of exceptional literary works. Our Fall 2012 production is "The Three Pigs." In Spring 2013, "Surprise Endings" will be performed.
ONCE UPON A THEATRE's primary concerns are addressing the critical need for arts in the schools and offering additional ways to teach students basic skills for success. Currently, there is little organized theatre in New Mexico's public elementary and middle schools. ONCE UPON A THEATRE believes this is a serious omission, and our program is designed to address this void. We have now taken our educational theatre program to over 165,000 children and adults in more than 145 venues. ONCE UPON A THEATRE looks forward to serving our community for years to come in order to enhance the lives of thousands of children in our area.
The primary person responsible for ONCE UPON A THEATRE's program is our Executive/Artistic Director, Myrna R. Smyer. Ms. Smyer has a BFA in Theatre Arts from the University of New Mexico and an MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. She taught theatre arts for over 20 years at Sandia Prep, where she created the drama program, and chaired the Fine Arts Department for 18 of those years. She was the recipient of the Helen & Doug Bridges Award for Outstanding Instructor at Sandia Prep in 1990 and received the 1999 Zia Award for Distinguished Alumni from the University of New Mexico. Ms. Smyer writes, designs, and directs all of ONCE UPON A THEATRE's productions. In addition, she creates the Teacher Activity/Study Guide for each presentation. Ms. Smyer was a New Mexico Arts Commissioner from 1999 through 2002. She also served on the City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Plan Advisory Committee, the Mayor’s Cable Television Advisory Board, The City of Albuquerque’s Arts in Education Task Force, the Mayor’s Film, Digital Media, and Theatre Advisory Board and Theatre for Youth Director’s Forum. She is currently a member of the Bernalillo County Arts Board and the Albuquerque Theatre Guild. In addition, her biography appears in Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in America.