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The joyful dead

Lake Middle School will world premier playwright Edith Weiss’ new play, “How to Hide Your Zombies,” on Nov. 14. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

Joy can be a powerful thing in theater.

“Joy is really the crux of theater,” Lake Middle School theater director Tami Provencher said. “When you discover something in yourself that you can do, there’s joy in that, there’s joy when you get to share that, we as educators find joy in seeing them find that in themselves and the audiences get joy in seeing them perform.

“Joy is the string that connects everything together.”

LMS’s joy has earned the school a $2,000 grant from Pioneer Drama Publishing to go toward the purchase of theater-related materials.

Provencher said it was the students’ joy that helped award them the grant.

“Our program is about providing that entertainment across the board,” Provencher said, ”and the joy really does come through.”

'The Show Must Go On'

Last year, Provencher decided to apply for the grant from the Pioneer Drama Publishing in order to offset some of the theater costs.

The Pioneer Drama Publishing grant, “The Show Must Go On,” posed a unique opportunity for students since the grant applications were videos made by students.

The goal of the video was to demonstrate in three minutes what was unique about the school’s theater program, what it brings to the school community and to the larger community.

“The students distilled the unique contribution of theater into one word: joy” Provencher said. “Joy isn’t easy to find, you have to find it in those little pockets.”

LMS’ video featured students performing to “Come on Get Happy,” by the Partridge Family and the “Brady Bunch” theme.

The video also featured still shots from some of the school’s previous productions as well and quotes from students about how they felt about the school’s theater program

“The goal was to show (Pioneer Drama Publishing) what was unique about our theater program,” Provencher said.

The $2,000 grant will go toward the purchase of scripts, royalties, makeup kits and accompanying materials.

“This grant will free up our money to do some different things,” Provencher said.

Specifically, Provencher said she wants to look at developing an anti-bullying theater program, where students would travel to local elementary schools and perform plays with anti-bullying messages.

’How to Hide Your Zombies’

In addition to receiving the Pioneer Drama Publishing grant, LMS also received another exciting honor.

The school was selected to world premier playwright Edith Weiss’ new play, “How to Hide Your Zombies.”

LMS has developed a relationship with Weiss after having performed two of her plays, “Seven Nasty Princesses” and “Poetic License.”

“This opportunity all came from her,” Provencher said.

Weiss, who is based out of Children’s Theatre in Denver, Colo., sent Provencher her script for “How to Hide Your Zombies” and asked her if the school would world premier the show.

Provencher said she jumped at the opportunity because the school greatly enjoys Weiss’ work.

“She has a really good feel for language and the ways to grow the kids,” she said. “Her shows are very funny, but with subtle lessons.”

“How to Hide Your Zombies” is about a group of vampires who decide to reform their lifestyle and become good members of society, rather than continue along the evil path of their race.

Along the way, the vampires meet a group of zombies, who they decide to take under their wing in order to teach them how to be good people.

However, another group of vampires don’t agree with the behaviors of the “recovering vampires.”

The theme of the play is accepting differences.

“Since there’s a lot of slapstick, it gives the kids a chance to open up physically and vocally,” Provencher said. “Plus, you can’t lose with vampires and zombies in middle school.”

Provencher said audiences can expect a lot of joy during “How to Hide Your Zombies.”

“It is a joyful experience just to watch them perform,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of laughs.”

Lake Middle School’s fall play, “How to Hide Your Zombies” runs Nov. 14-16 at 7 p.m. at the school. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and children under 5-years-old are free.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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