With a buffet in the center of the lobby and costumes and props decorating the area, the Redfern Arts Center hosted their annual Season Kick-Off Party with sneak-peak performances for free.

The Redfern’s Marketing and Business Manager Jackie Hooper said people have the opportunity to socialize for about a half-hour to forty-five minutes before going and seeing the live performances.

Hooper explained, “The music department students will be performing guitar work and then also two faculty members will be performing as well, separately. And then the Theater and Dance Department has one student performing a solo. Also, our director will be giving a sampling of the season with slides and videos.”

Hooper said this is about the fifth year that the Redfern Arts Center faculty has hosted a kick-off party. She said it’s about trying to get people excited about the season and to inform faculty, students and the community about what will be going on in the next year. “The Redfern brings in about eleven to twelve performing artists during the year,” Hooper said.

She also noted that professionals from off campus do the performances.  In addition, the Music Department has about forty performances scheduled at the Redfern this year, as well as four performances being done by theater and art majors, according to Hooper. In the lobby there were different mannequins dressed in costumes, which were made by the Theater and Dance Department for various performances in the past. Hooper mentioned each piece was labeled with what performances they were used in. In addition to the costumes, there were puppets out for show; some hung from the ceiling, others hung on the wall or were placed on a table. The puppets were about five to seven years old, Hooper said. However, they were not just out for nostalgia—they were out to highlight a production coming this year. Hooper mentioned that Celine Perron, a professor of Theatre and Dance will be doing a production with puppets, called, “The Phantom Tollbooth” in the spring.

In addition to all the colorful puppets and costumes, walking around the lobby in all black, taking selfies of herself in all different positions with different people was Kellie Lynch. She wore a curly yellow-haired wig and large, silver glasses on her face; she was ready to play her character for the performance in, “Einstein’s Happiest Thought.”

Olivia Schiaffo / Equinox Staff

Olivia Schiaffo / Equinox Staff

Lynch said she works with Adele Myers and Dancers company and this isn’t the first time she’s performed this piece. The same piece premiered this time last year, starting the preparation in 2011 she said. “Its inspiration came from the idea of falling and flying. And then from there it evolved, many other things came up,” she said.

Another guest at the social gathering was Susanne Udall, a freshman at Keene State College.

She said she heard about the social gathering because she just got hired as an usher at the Redfern. She said she went to the job fair on campus and got an interview soon after.She continued to say that she is looking forward to being in the artistic environment. “I’m a Spanish major. I just have a lot of respect for people that are involved in the arts,” she explained.

She said she thinks her involvement is going to be a good way to get active on campus and meet other people who she might not usually see on a regular basis. In addition to Udall, Lyssy Barnes-Flint, a recently-transferred theatre major at KSC, was also at the kick-off gathering.

The junior came to the social gathering to see what was going on this season at the Redfern. She’s working on “Equus” this year, in addition to taking six theatre classes. Barnes-Flint found the event to be beneficial. “It’s a very good way to meet people and [see] who’s going to be around next year and what you can go to. I like how it’s open and there’s food,” Barnes-Flint said.

Faculty appreciated the students’ appearance at the Season Kick-off Party. Director of the Redfern Arts Center Shannon Mayers said a serious focus this year is getting students involved and to take advantage of the opportunities offered at the Redfern. In addition, she said this kick-off party is truly an invitation for the community to be welcomed to the building and to introduce them to the shows they offer. She said when she came on in 2011 she added a lot of performances because that’s what’s really exciting to people. For example, something she started is Creative Connections, which aims to create more activities with the Keene community.

“We really want our community to see the Redfern as a place to gather, as a place that is social. That it’s not just coming in, seeing a performance and leaving—because we have a lot of other activities, free programming activities,” Mayers said.

Some of them are pre-show talks, lectures and workshops that happen with all of their events. In addition she said the Redfern Arts Center works with the Colonial Theater to do education outreach. Jackie Hooper said students only pay five dollars for any ticket to go see a high quality performance at the Redfern.  Someone else who finds the prices at the Redfern to be great compared to the Colonial Theater is a man who has lived in Keene for a very long time, Frank Kellom. Kellom said he takes advantage of the great performances offered at the Redfern. He said he subscribed to just about every performance coming to the Redfern this year.

“I support the place. I buy my tickets and I also give them some money sometime during the season, just to help encourage young people in the arts,” Kellom explained.  He said he’s on campus quite a bit and has friends who teach here. Kellom said he found the kick-off social gathering to be wonderful and very positive.  In addition, he said people in Keene are very fortunate to have all these events offered on campus.

Bethany Ricciardi can be contacted at bricciardi@keene-equinox.com

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