EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Wharton Center in East Lansing is bringing the whimsy and wonder of storytelling right to viewers’ homes with a new twist.
As playwright and storyteller David Gonzales says, connection is important for any storyteller.
“What I try to do is make something that is compelling, interesting, different so there’s a moment where we take notice and engage,” Gonzalez said.
The storyteller has worked with the Wharton Center on various productions and has even helped lead theater and storytelling workshops that moved to virtual instruction under the pandemic.
He’ll be bringing his own take on a classic fairytale to life through the center’s family programming Feb. 13 and Feb. 14.
“I wanted Sleeping Beauty to now be so asleep. So much of the story is the helpless girl waiting for true love but I wanted to give the little princess, the protagonist some spunk,” Gonzalez said.
Bert Goldstein is the director of the Institute for Arts and Creativity at the Wharton Center and he said school and family programming have been a huge part of the center’s pandemic operations.
The Act One: Family Programming at the Wharton Center was created to give parents a chance to share in the storytelling with their children.
“I think parents, the same way at home, they’re really looking for something of quality to put their kids in front of or something to watch together as a family,” Goldstein explained.
For now, the seats of Wharton Center remain empty.
“I’m glad that we’re doing this and people have been so appreciative but like everyone who’s been doing this we want to get back to doing it live,” Goldstein explained.
In addition to their virtual productions for schools and families, the center will continue its planned summer theatre workshops.
“We’re offering classes, workshops, Broadway musical workshops. While all these things aren’t available live, it is fulfilling a need for people to stay connected to the arts,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein is still unsure what the summer will hold for the center in terms of virtual or in-person instruction, but in-person productions could be back on the stage as early as September.
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