No program would be complete without the opportunity to create and perform. Our artist workshops provide the perfect setting for children as they participate in drama camps, puppet shows and other visual arts and dance and performance activities.
Children participate in both the on- and off-stage experience, creating scenery, learning lines, practicing dances, practicing and rehearsing. Many of their performances – from Annie, The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz, have resulted in the very special “encores” that make everyone’s day.
Margo McCreary leads our annual 3-day Puppet Workshop at Ronald McDonald House which culminates in a performance that is scripted and performed by the children in our program, with highly improbably (but entertaining!) story lines.
Our first Silent Film Workshop has children at Ronald McDonald House engaged for three mornings and they learned three new words, “Lights, Camera, Action” while producing Magic Shows and stories that come from their imagination. With heroes of all kinds from Kings and Sorcerers to Superheros traveling to the Moon. Harmony Theatre Company leads this workshop and we look forward to many more productions.
Margo McCreary’s live outdoor puppet show is performed outside of Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis. Star Studios, Children’s Minneapolis’ closed circuit TV program simultaneously live streams the performance to hospital rooms on both Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses of Children’s Minnesota.
Two- and three-day workshops are sometimes designed with a donation in mind. A three-day summer artist workshop event with mosaic artist Lori Greene was so much fun. Twenty-three children, both patients and siblings, helped build our creation at Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest. The mosaic was then completed by Lori and the names of all 23 participants became an integral part of this vibrant and magical “Tree of Life.” The tree, which is 5 feet high and 3 feet wide, was our gift to Ronald McDonald House in honor of their 30th anniversary, and we are so proud to have been a part of their special celebration.
This mosaic of life under the water was designed by mosaic artist Lori Greene and sponsored by Breanna’s Gift. This unique art collaboration included our artist/patients, their parents and child life staff from the Minneapolis hematology/oncology unit of Children’s Minnesota. The children spent three afternoons creating starfish, shrimp, seahorses and of course we can’t forget Nemo. The piece is on permanent display in the unit and the children are very proud of their work. They have been known to stop by when they can to find their names on the frame and admire their art.
The first Radio workshop Breanna’s Gift was led by Voice Over Performer Beth Chaplin. It started out with the kids learning about old time radio shows. Stories told without visual images. Just voices and sound effects using big microphones. The stories they worked on were the “Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Three Little Pigs.” Close your eyes and what do you hear? Animals excited for the big race? (Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) Little Pigs building their houses of sticks and straw and bricks. Runners moving thru water and across leaves? The wind blowing through the trees? The wolf knocking on the door? The stories are presented to the children in a DVD format so they can listen and imagine these two classic tales with simply the sounds. What’s next? You’ll have to stay tuned …..
Lori Greene received her BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1982 and her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 1993. Lori’s work draws inspiration from African and traditional Native American culture. Both cultures are reflections of her ethnic heritage. Beginning in 1993, Lori received numerous grants and fellowships including 2 Bush Artist Fellowships awarded in 1994 and again in 2010. Her exhibitions are numerous as well. Exhibitions have been held at the Steinbaum Krauss Gallery in New York City, the Minnesota Mosaic Guild in Redwing, Minnesota and Mosaic Arts International in Miami, Florida in Phoenix, Arizona in 2007 and 2008 to name a few. Some of Lori’s commissioned works in Minnesota include mosaics for the Minnesota Cardiovascular Center, Chicanos Latinos Unidos en Servicio, Creek Valley Elementary School, Gillette Children’s Hospital, Fairview University Hospital, Breck School, Holy Spirit Chapel, and a mosaic mural for the Ramsey County Library. In 2004, Lori opened Mosaic on a Stick, a community art classroom and studio in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lori has shared her time and her talent, teaching adults and children at her studio and adds this community based environment to her several Artist in Residence commissions where she has worked with children as they step into the world of mosaic art. One of these special projects was “The Tree of Life” for Breanna’s Gift. Held at Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest, Lori and the children shared her beliefs regarding creating images that are about strength, power memory, protection and empowerment – about being all you can be. Another project for Breanna’s Gift was a mosaic collaboration with children in the hematology/oncology unit at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis. This piece, “You and Me under the Sea,” is on permanent display at the hospital. In 2015, Lori developed an Art TakeoutTM project for Breanna’s Gift called “Make a Mosaic.” These projects are for children who are too sick to join group classes.
Anne McNaughton attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota where she earned a B.A. in Business Administration. She continued her education at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning her M.A. in Education along with a French teaching degree. Anne has been a singer all of her life. She has 11 years of formal training, first while attending Concordia and later at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Anne combined her singing with dance when she assisted and taught at Woodbury Dance Center in Woodbury, Minnesota. To her love of song and dance, Anne adds the third component of acting. She studied improvisational acting at Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota and put her skills to work acting in several productions while at Concordia and additionally performed every week for four years in the Six Ring Circus at the Brave New Workshop. She has also been in productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie and The Sound of Music to name a few. Anne has directed and choreographed musical productions at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley, Minnesota for many years. The shows include such musicals as Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma and High School Musical. Five years ago she created and continues to direct drama camps for young children. Her camps introduce children to the world of theater through acting, dance, costume and scenery creation and performance. Starting in 2010, the drama camps for Breanna’s Gift have been held each summer at Ronald McDonald House Upper Midwest. Some of the repertoire includes scenes from “Annie,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
Elena Khalitov is the founding executive director of Harmony Theater Company and School. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, she has had a diverse career path, constantly devoting herself to helping other people in discovering their personal potential. Elena studied at the St. Petersburg State University in Russia and completed graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. She worked as a behavioral health therapist and has also taught at the Minnesota School of Business/Globe University and at Art Institutes International Minnesota. Since 2004, Elena has been leading Harmony’s educational programs and managing all of the company’s productions. Elena has co-created Harmony’s acting school program curriculum and the “Orbs of Power and Skills” system of student progress/evaluation. She has also been teaching classes, writing scripts, directing and co-directing Harmony’s stage shows. With Elena’s direction, Harmony has developed a unique curriculum that incorporates numerous acting games and professional theatre activities. The school and company have created many large stage productions, numerous improvisation shows and theatrical events and produced over 25 short films and documentaries. Elena and her staff began collaborating with Breanna’s Gift in 2014, teaching an improvisation theater class and leading silent film workshops with the children at Ronald McDonald House.