DECATUR, Ill. — Only the best people live in the city of Bestopolis – the best video game player, the best mathematician, the best cinnamon roll maker. There are villains and ghosts, and the key to preventing the city’s downfall might just rely on tinfoil and tolerance.
The public is invited to attend the 4-H Little Dreamers production of their untitled, self-produced play at 4 p.m. Dec. 4 at Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre on Millikin University’s campus, 1099 W. Wood St., Decatur.
Little Dreamers is a collaborative program between Macon County 4-H and Millikin University’s student-run Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre. After being first offered in the summer, the after-school performing arts program returned this fall for second to sixth graders.
Maya Dougherty is Pipe Dreams first director of education and their inaugural youth program. Macon County 4-H reached out to the studio with the initial idea and now facilitates the program which is led by volunteer Millikin students.
“I think about how special theatre was to me when I was young,” Dougherty said. “So to be at a point now where I can give that experience to kids is something really special. It’s important to foster that experience for kids.”
Children who participate in drama programs strengthen valuable communication and social skills and also have increased self-esteem and confidence in their academic abilities. Theatre can also help improve reading and comprehension skills.
During the six-week program, Pipe Dreams company members taught acting technique, scene writing, stage blocking, costume design and more. The students came up with their characters that were then written into an original screen play. Along the way, they helped with blocking and discussed set design and costumes.
The students can also use the program to create projects for the 4-H show, which is open to a wide variety of topics said 4-H program Coordinator Olivia Warren.
“Decatur needed another route for 4-H to go, rather than agriculture that everybody correlates 4-H with, so we’re branching out into the creative arts as another way to teach them leadership and teamwork,” Warren said. “Anything can fall under 4-H, we have project for coding, theatre and visual arts, agriculture and environmental sciences.”
The 4-H program is provided through University of Illinois Extension and is open to youth ages 8 to 18. Youth learn skills for living by participating in individual or group learning experiences related to more than 200 project areas. More information about Extension and 4-H is available at go.illinois.edu/dmp or find Macon County 4-H on Facebook.