Company of Fools’ embarks on its 21st Year of Stages of Wonder
Building on the Blaine County School District’s mission of inspiring, engaging, educating and empowering every student, Company of Fools announces the 21st year of Stages of Wonder—an in-school dramatic arts program that has served as the theatre curriculum in local elementary schools since 1997.
This year’s Stages of Wonder program will take place at elementary schools across the Wood River Valley on the following dates:
Feb. 26–March 2…..Alturas Elementary
March 5–9…..Hailey Elementary
March 12–15…..Hemingway Elementary
March 20–23…..Bellevue Elementary
Company of Fools created Stages of Wonder to engage children in individual and collective creativity through the medium of theatre. The dynamic, innovative program seeks to address the absence of an ongoing theatre experience in the elementary schools by introducing theatre as an essential component in the development of the whole child. To date, the program has served more than 24,000 students.
Stages of Wonder encourages elementary-school-age children (grades one through five) to explore creativity expressed through the theatrical arts. For many students, the program is their first contact with the dramatic arts. Facilitated by specially trained Company of Fools teaching artists, Stages of Wonder brings together storytelling, role-playing, theatre games and exercises designed for each grade level. These activities are both structured and improvisational, allowing children the opportunity to express themselves in their own personal way without the worry of getting it “right” or “wrong.”
Stages of Wonder creates an equal playing field for all children, regardless of their personality or background. Any potential barriers observed by facilitators—such as language, self-judgment, shyness or lack of self-esteem—are addressed. The environment of physical and emotional safety created by Stages of Wonder allows students to experience and celebrate the success of their own unique creativity.
Stages of Wonder currently operates in four public elementary schools across the Blaine County School District. In recent years, Company of Fools has also brought the program to child-focused nonprofit organizations such as Higher Ground, Y-On-Wheels, YAK!, the Magic Valley Boys and Girls Club and Camp Rainbow Gold. These special partnerships have enabled Company of Fools to impact groups of children with different and specific needs.
Perhaps the best proof of Stages of Wonder’s effectiveness is the consistently positive feedback it receives from educators:
The students truly look forward to this weeklong exploration of creativity, often carrying on the activities in their play at recess for weeks after the program has ended. It is a celebration of spirit where students engage in safe and creative ways to honor individuality and culture, gain perspective, and laugh together wrapped in the caring arms of the arts. – Brad Henson, Principal, Alturas Elementary School
Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ commitment to educational programs like Stages of Wonder is founded on the understanding that arts education is critical for future generations—especially as we prepare to face new challenges in this century and beyond. Together with Company of Fools, The Center offers the following arts-in-education programs:
- Professional Artist Residencies that include nationally known musicians and visual artists
- Student matinee performances of Company of Fools’ productions at the Liberty Theatre
- Student and Educator Scholarships for advanced study in the arts (more than $500,000 awarded to date)
- Student Exhibition Tours of visual arts exhibitions at The Center’s gallery in Ketchum
- Classroom Enrichment Projects that integrate the arts into core classroom curriculum
- Educator Nights at Company of Fools’ productions and discount tickets for Lecture Series events