Arts & Culture

East High Tales, a Drama Production by Boston Community Collaborative

Boston Community Collaborative (BCC) is so proud of its recent production of East High Tales, a musical based on the music of High School Musical. This original play was written, choreographed, and directed by Miss Ingrid Oslund.

The amazing cast included twenty one performers between the ages of 9 and 12, and two adult, professional actresses. For this endeavor, BCC is thrilled to have mixed these kids from the Eliot School, St John’s School, St Joseph’s School, and the afterschool programs of the Nazzaro Center, and St John’s School. Including professional actresses was a brilliant director’s choice. The actresses raised the level of performances across the entire cast. The kids learned many things by example, including voice projection, stage presence, hard work, back stage etiquette, and efficiency and professionalism in rehearsing. A HUGE thank you to Marina Silva and Sarah Cronkleton-Kidd. The positive effects of their participation cannot be overstated.

Congratulations to Miss Ingrid, the actors, and their parents and families. This young group of performers did an amazing job and all should feel extremely proud!

Rehearsals for the play took place over the past 2 months in the North End, primarily at the Nazzaro Center. BCC is incredibly grateful to Carl Ameno, Laurie D’Elia, and The Nazzaro Center for allowing us to rehearse in their wonderful space. Thank you also to St John’s School and Filippo’s Restaurant for allowing us to use space when other activities were scheduled at the Nazzaro Center. BCC is so thankful for the kindness, understanding and generosity of these wonderful community partners.

The play was performed at City Lights in the South End last Saturday and Sunday to packed houses. The relationship with City Lights was initiated many years ago through an introduction by State Representative Aaron Michlewitz’s office – we are both in his district. BCC is thrilled to maintain this collaborative relationship with City Lights. A HUGE thank you to Duggan and Braun Hill of City Lights for allowing us to use their amazing performance space, and for supporting all the many details of producing the show. Their assistance included coordination of chair rental and delivery, lighting set up, microphone and sound system support, rescheduling classes and much, much more. We are very grateful.

The actors and their supporters enjoyed a lovely reception following each performance at nearby JJ Foley’s. Thank you to South End friend and supporter Tracy Cutting for reaching out to the South End community on our behalf to help find a reception space. Thank you to those in the South End community for pulling together and helping out – your time, efforts and collective brainstorming are greatly appreciated.

From Miss Ingrid’s notes to the audience:

“When creating theater for young audience, relevance is of paramount importance. So what is relevant about a TV movie that was released ten years ago, when I was the same age as the majority of this cast? I set out to create a contemporary version of this pop culture staple because I believe that behind its sugar coating, it actually has something to say. There is something to be said about how limiting stereotypes can be and how even positive ones can have lasting, harmful effects on individuals. It speaks volumes about the microcosm that is high school, a reminder that all the decisions we view as trivial as adults, so greatly affect the lives of young people. I wanted to also include the experience I see my own students go through on a daily basis, such as the pressures of standardized testing, how traditional socializing is not always the best for students, how sports, theater, shared activities can create communities, but how we still must prioritize teaching inclusivity. This music is catchy, parts of the show are silly, the story is predictable… But that does not mean that the show has to be fluff. I hope you enjoy(ed) the show, I also hope that you leave thinking of how the world can look from a different perspective. To remember both the joy and terror of your fate resting on whether you get the lead in the school musical, or (the results of) your next algebra test. Take a few hours to live in the simple and complex world of a high school student in 2006 as well as 2016.”

Ingrid Oslund is a playwright, director, choreographer, and teaching artist in the Boston Area. Her work has been featured by a number of Boston Area companies such as Newburyport Actors Studio (Post Pardum Nativity), Emstage (Richard the III), Suffolk University (Mountain Air, Hum’s Girls, 4:48 Psychosis), The Theater Offensive (The Bard and Boal), Boston Opera Collaborative (Faust et Marguerite) and, of course, Boston Community Collaborative (The Olympus Complex). Ms. Oslund strives to create theater that is innovative, immersive and cerebral, regardless of the demographic she is working with. She holds a BA in theater with a focus in Directing and Playwriting from Suffolk University, and an MA in Applied Theater from Emerson College. Upcoming productions include Skull Duggary(June 10, 6 pm, SJS), and Women Writer’s Suicide Club (Fall, 2016) at Boston Community Collaborative, and A Midsummer Night’s Dreamat Hampshire Shakespeare Company this summer.

Boston Community Collaborative was incorporated in 2013. Its mission is to connect people, and enrich lives. Some photos by Rebecca Griffin, some photos by Michele Morgan.