Monologue of The Week -Broccoli Bacon Mess

broccoli

Broccoli Bacon Mess

So last night I choked. I really, really choked, you know, the real deal. The coughing thing, the watery eyes thing, my hands on my throat thing. I couldn’t breathe for about 10 seconds, well it felt like 10 minutes, but you know what I mean. It all started because I wouldn’t eat my broccoli. I mean, come on, who wants to eat broccoli anyway? Not me. So my dad sizzled up some bacon, which smelled really, really good, and cut it up and covered it all over my broccoli. There was more bacon than broccoli, and I was like, sure why not. So I took a huge forkful of the stuff, shoved that heaping pile of bacon-broccoli in my mouth and it tasted so good I didn’t think to start chewing. I just kind of swallowed it all in one gulp, and then something bad happened. That huge glob of broccoli-bacon got stuck right here, right where it is supposed to go down, but well, it didn’t, and that’s where things got bad and got bad fast. I stood up and grabbed the table, and I moved my head forward to try and throw up the mess, but that didn’t work. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to hold my breath, and I was very scared. My dad rushed over and smacked my back a few times and the next thing I know I was coughing real hard and that huge glob of bacon and broccoli started falling out of me. I think some of it even came out of my nose. It went all over the table, and some of it landed on the floor. I took a few deep breaths, and my mom helped me to calm down. I started to cry, and then I laughed. After I laughed a little more Dad asked if I wanted some more broccoli and bacon. I passed on that one.

Monologue of The Week -Sledding In Trouble

img_1998

This week’s monologue was written by my daughter Shayna Levy.

We used to sled down the hill, but not the baby one. The one for big kids. Like me. And my brother. We would drag the sled up, and I would get on. He would hold it and jump on, and away we go. But then I broke my arm. So when I healed and could sled again, Mom made us use the baby one. We were embarrassed, and held our heads down. It wasn’t NEARLY as fun. No thrill. AT ALL. So we went back up on the big kid one. But that’s when Mom came to pick us up. And she saw us on the big kid hill. TROUBLE! We ran down the other side of the hill. This was good, this was good. But she found us. She found us! She really did! We got in trouble. But mainly me because I had broken my arm and needed to be CAREFUL. What a pointless word. Careful. Anyway, now Mom took away our sled and Dad won’t buy us another one. So now we just have snowball fights.

Monologue of The Week – The Dry Cleaner Tailor

dry-cleaning

The clothes, they come in wrinkly, like some of my customers. But they come out shiny, like some of my other customers. A lady brought in a blouse that had been on the bottom of her closet floor for six months she tells me. The blouse looked like a prune, it was shriveled and small. I thought to myself, now that is a big project, and we can do it. We can fix anything here. I took the shriveled shirt and fed it through our machines. Then I sent it to our steam room, and I sent it through our machines again. When it was all done and all dry, it looked amazing. The lady picked up her shirt and was so excited. That was a great moment for me. You know we fix clothes that have the threads all messed up, we are also tailors here in the shop. I can sew really well, and so can everybody else here. We take the holes in your pants and sew them right back up. We take buttons and we sew them back on. We can make your pant legs shorter or longer, and we can do the same with a skirt or a dress. We measure you really well so we get it right. We’ve never had an issue. So bring your wrinkled clothes and your tattered threads, and we’ll fix you right up.

Composed by Joshua Levy

Monologue of The Week – Benched

onbench

Benched
By Joshua Levy

I want to play, let me in, let me in, I can score. It’s not like it’s the end of the world that I am not passing two classes. Just because I didn’t study enough doesn’t mean I don’t know enough. Go ahead ask me anything about it. I’ll tell you all the facts, big ones, small ones, trivial ones, important ones, and the facts in between. Oh, this is so not cool. At least they let me put on the uniform. I am still a part of this team even though I am here. On the bench. Warming it up. With the fans behind me. Screaming for my team. Watching my team get beat, and oh man, they are getting beat pretty bad. Its not like they would do any better even if I was playing. Well, that’s not true. I know how to put points on the board. And everybody else here knows it. Even our mascot is sad to see me on the bench. My parents aren’t thrilled that I am on the bench because of my grades, but well, like I said, I still know my facts. I can keep it all straight. Oh look, now we are losing really bad. This is awful. Put me in, can’t you just put me in for a few? Until I score a little, just to get us back in the game. Oh, I didn’t think so, but thought I would ask anyway. It’s only two classes. I can fix that up and I can play at the next game. I am going to tutoring tomorrow, and that will help me, not like I need the help because like I told you, I know my facts. Hey, that was a foul! Come on coach, you have to argue that one. Oh right, I am on the bench, and I can’t even get them to call a foul. It’s okay, I’ll get my grades back to normal and you’ll see. I’m on the bench now, but next week I’ll be there playing and we’ll be winning.

Monologue of The Week – Sammi

Welcome to the new weekly series – Monologue of The Week. I’ll publish an original monologue composed by: me, or one of our instructors, or one of our volunteers, or one of our students, or by a special guest in our programs.

I recently composed the monologue below in preparation for the theatre arts elective I teach on Sunday mornings. While I composed several others at the time, this is one of my favorites. A female, middle-school aged student performed the piece with the rich, sarcastic, and fun humor it deserves.

Sammi
By Joshua Levy

My room, I don’t have to clean it, it’s my room and I’ll leave it how I want. It’s my stuff, well never mind that you technically bought it, but it’s mine and I shall do what I want with it if you please. But you don’t please, you are yelling at me to clean my room, and that is oh so annoying. I have clothes here on the floor, and yea so my jeans are on the ceiling fan, no big deal. Watch this, I’ll just turn on the fan like this, and oh wow, watch those babies fly. Those are some pretty flying jeans. Now check this out. I am taking this sock that I’ve worn for three weeks almost every other day, and it hasn’t been washed in three weeks, and I am throwing it on top of the ceiling fan. Oh yeah, now I am pulling the switch to make the fan at full speed. Oh yeah, check out that sock fly, and oh yeah, check out that nasty smell. Yup, that’s my sock flying around. Yup, this is my room, and I can fly my clothes from the ceiling fan if I want to. I might get so mad that I could put my shoes on the ceiling fan and fly them around. Hah, flying shoes. Wouldn’t that be something. Wait, I can’t find my shoes. I need to pick up my jeans, my socks, my books, my pencils, my pillow, my shirts, and I need to start putting it all away. My shoes are here somewhere. Wait, what’s that on top of the window?

Reflections

We’ve been up and running with amazing kids and programs since June. A few of my reflections…

He got up and flapped his arms up and down and squealed with delight and ran around the room. He did it more and more as his comfort level with the group increased. It was heaven for this kid, and we loved him for it.

And another kid…In a moment that lasted a matter of seconds, I watched him while he was pestering the other kids. One of them shriveled her eyes, looked him up and down as if he were the Devil incarnate, and he turned away from her. I happened to be facing him when my eyes fell on the heartbroken expression of his face, I watched his shoulders drop, I felt his energy drain from his core. That was a moment that affirmed my intense compassion for this kid, and all the other kids whose behavior leaves me, and so many others, feeling the sense of challenge, feeling the very moment of conflict of my wanting to issue him stern verbal redirection for his actions versus my instinct to wanting to gently wrap my arm around his shoulder, escort him swiftly away from the scene, and support him by verbally offering positive praise for something about him, anything meaningful to allow him to focus on the positive; taking a moment to distract him, and to let him know the world is an okay place.

A picture can speak a thousand words. Their pictures, especially the ones in color, speak a thousand plus one. For a brief-moment in time, an hour and a half to be exact, they coast around the room and through the playground capturing images of the world around them in the way they want to show us their world. The colorful pictures reflect the best of who they are – full of life, full of energy, full of the hunger and the desire to learn.

Their arms were resting on each other’s shoulders. Their friendship came to be from our class. One day he didn’t want to start with class because his friend hadn’t arrived yet. That was telling. That was very telling that they are forming long-lasting relationships with each other here. I am not sure what we would have done that afternoon if his friend hadn’t arrived that afternoon.

“He loves it. He just loves coming here,” she tells me when dropping him off and picking him up. Yes, he does love it! His creativity is off the charts. His nature to get along with anyone is special, too. He is the one where we will be saying, “We knew you when…” Yes, he does love it, and we love him!

The performance was incredible, amazing, magical. They created a dynamic plot, adventurous characters. They delivered the fun, they performed the drama, and they shared with us the best treat…pride. How proud they were of what they accomplished together. A joyous afternoon of families for an incredible inaugural moment. The instructor, the support team, they created something special. Those nine hours over six weeks…it lives in me, and perhaps for them too, as a lifetime of an amazing moment.

There are so many heroes in the world. There really are. We are beyond blessed to have so many of them. Watching the supporting, safe, and welcoming environment take shape in our space is due to our heroes. They are perfect with the kids, I can see their energy transpire with the kids, and I am watching a mystical sharing of energy between the heroes and the kids in a seamless, loving, dedicated moment the world drinks and grows stronger from.

My heart said to reach out to specific special people who will provide guidance, leadership, and support for the endeavor. I followed the direction of my heart, and I am humbled that our Board is spot on. Each one is like a fresh ingredient in a meal that keeps getting better and better each time you make it.

There is so much more to the story, and I am excited to watch it unfold. I can see the big chapters, and the heart of the content is the amazement that awaits. I am glad that you, too, are watching.

FAQs

img_1705

A list of frequently asked questions along with answers.
Have a question not on the list?
Ask your question to Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744.

Q: Can kids without special needs participate?

A: Yes. Children without special needs can participate in the program. For example, siblings who do not have special needs are invited to participate in the classes. Children without special needs benefit from the program by learning, having fun, and serving as a peer model all at the same time. 

Q: What is meant by a wide range of special needs? 

A: We recognize that there are many special needs and disabilities, some more complex than others, and all special needs and disabilities are included for the program. We provide the opportunity for each child in the class to demonstrate success. An enriching classroom is filled with children with various abilities who shine in the fun and engaging activities.

Q: Is there more than just the instructor for a class?

A: Yes. In addition to the instructor, at least one volunteer also provides support for the students. Volunteers work with the instructor to become familiar with the lesson plan, they support students during class activities, and they provide one-on-one support to a student as needed. Check out our Work and Volunteer page to sign-up for working or volunteering at Joshua’s Stage, we would love to have you!

Q: Where are classes located?

A: Classes for children in grades K-5 are currently taking place at: Capitol School of Austin, 2011 W Koenig Lane, Austin, TX 78756. Locations for classes for children who are ages 3 to 5, who are in grades 6-8, and who are in grades 9-12 will be noted as they become available. 

Q: What is the funding?

A: Classes are tuition based. As a nonprofit organization, Joshua’s Stage will also apply for grants, apply to foundations, and seek contributions and sponsorships that will go towards scholarships for qualifying families.

Fit To Be A Star: Theatre Arts and Fitness Thanksgiving Camp

Fit To Be A Star: Theatre Arts and Fitness Thanksgiving Camp

img_1645

Joshua’s Stage is teaming up with The Fitness School to let your child perform and get fit with the art of theatre and the rush of working out.

For students with a wide range of special needs in grades K-12. 

Monday November 21st and Tuesday November 22nd
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Camp cost: $120.00

Participants will have fun with activities such as:

  • Developing and performing a monologue, playing improvisational games, pantomime, object transformation, composing and performing a class play
  • Wellness building skills, stretching, flexibility exercises, balance and coordination control, healthy eating decision making
  • Lunch provided by Jason’s Deli
  • Visit to the Aquarium
  • Games, movies, crafts, and more!

Camp Location:
YES! Youth Fitness and Sports Performance
13530 US-183 #102
Austin, TX 78750

For more information about the Thanksgiving camp contact Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744.

Engage and Be Inspired: A Filmmaking Workshop

Engage and be inspired with the creativity and technology of filmmaking!

img_1532

On Saturday January 21, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. students in grades 9-12 with a wide range of special needs are invited to participate in a filmmaking workshop at Golden Arm Media.

Workshop participants will engage in activities and learn about:

  • hands-on collaboration in planning, shooting and editing various types of video styles, including video blogs, documentary-style interviews, and working with green screen
  • the film and video industry
  • the great roles available for those with video experience, and where they can discover more resources to further hone their skills

Golden Arm Media
7801 N Lamar Blvd, Suite F12
Austin, TX 78752
512-356-9592

14689968_10207442827419362_773158904_o

The workshop is $45 and is limited to six students.  

Register here.

Contact Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744 for questions about the workshop.

Now Enrolling

Registration is open for our January 21 filmmaking workshop and for our Spring 2017 improv session.

Joshua’s Stage is the premiere performance center for children ages 3 to 18 with a wide range of special needs; featuring classes in theatre arts, dance, digital photography, and filmmaking.

Your child will participate in an accepting and engaging environment that focuses on building your child’s self-confidence, increasing your child’s self-esteem, and developing positive relationships with their peers and adults through fine arts classes and performances.

We recognize that there are many special needs and disabilities, some more complex than others, and all special needs and disabilities are included for the program. We provide the opportunity for each child in the class to demonstrate success.

Children without special needs are also invited to participate in the program.

IMG_1378

Engage and Be Inspired: A Filmmaking Workshop for Grades 9-12, January 21, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Golden Arm Media, 7801 N Lamar Blvd, Suite F12, Austin, TX 78752

Participants will engage in activities and learn about:

  • hands-on collaboration in planning, shooting and editing various types of video styles, including video blogs, documentary-style interviews, and working with green screen
  • the film and video industry
  • the great roles available for those with video experience, and where they can discover more resources to further hone their skills

Laugh, Learn, and Lead with the Power of Improv for Grades 6-8, March 26th-May 7th, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., ColdTowne Theater, 4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

Students with a wide range of special needs in grades 6-8 will engage in the free-flowing process of improv in a warm and welcoming environment with awesome activities such as: Alien Translator; Guests-At-A-Party; Questions Only; Freeze; Build-A-Scene, and more! Your child will have the opportunity to: demonstrate creativity; develop self-confidence during each class and the culminating performance; maintain high self-esteem; form long-lasting relationships with peers with similar needs and caring, qualified teachers; enhance oral language expression, and engage in positive team building exercises. The culminating improv performance takes place during the All Ages Improv Show on May 7th from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at ColdTowne Theater. So that each child’s talents and abilities can be maximized, the class size will be no more than 8 students.

 

img_1728

 

Joshua’s Stage
To learn more about Joshua’s Stage, contact Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744.

Work and Volunteer
Do you have a desire to enrich the lives of children with special needs? We would love for you to join us! Check out our Work and Volunteer page to sign-up today.

Joshua’s Stage is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contact Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744 if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution.

The Royal Binocular Debacle

Complete with temper tantrums, an expensive pair of binoculars, and a good moral lesson at the end, six sensationally creative children inspired their audience to laugh and applaud with delight on Sunday July 24th. The children took to the stage playing wonderful characters such as a king, a queen, a princess, a prince, a clerk, and a friend in “The Royal Binocular Debacle”, a play written and performed by our program’s inaugural theatre arts class.

 

Prior to their stellar performance the students proudly and enthusiastically welcomed the audience by providing tickets at the box office, issuing programs, and ushering the audience to the best seats in the house.

To achieve such a grand success our six students, ages 6 to 9, demonstrated their creative genius in an accepting and welcoming environment that focused on building their self-confidence, increasing their self-esteem, and developing positive relationships with each other and with caring, qualified teachers. Over the course of the six-weeks theatre arts summer session, the students engaged in activities such as

  • Voice and body warm-up exercises
  • Pantomime practice including object transformation
  • Creating masks and assigning a character to the mask
  • Alien Interview
  • Theatre vocabulary words such as monologue, dialogue, theatre, and stage
  • Voice projection activities in the style of a superhero
  • Staging directions such as center stage, stage right, stage left
  • Understanding roles in a play and practicing acting
  • Building a story as a class
  • Prop creating
  • Set design
  • Costuming
  • Dress rehearsal
  • Working the box office, program attendants, and ushering
  • Performance!

The magic that was made to make the theatre arts summer session at Joshua’s Stage a huge success was without a doubt attributed to our fabulous teacher Ms. Maggie. Ms. Maggie quickly developed rapport with our marvelous students and she fabulously planned for and conducted meaningful, fun and engaging activities where each student shined. Supporting Maggie and our students were our amazing assistants Ms. Chelsea, Ms. Myrna, Ms. Sara, and Ms. Lucinda.

The families of the students who shared their children in this awesome program were instrumental in helping launch this endeavor. Thank you, all!

Thank you to our Board members Alicia Garnes, Pat Otto, and John Traphagan for observing classes and providing tremendous insight to keep the program heading right along. Thank you to Amanda Zhu, our wonderful graduate student, for observing classes, asking important questions, participating, and offering everyone strong encouragement.

A special thank you to my wife Lori, and our kids Shayna and Noah for supporting the endeavor.

Joshua’s Stage is the premiere performance center for children ages 3 to 18 with a wide range of special needs; featuring classes in theatre arts, dance, digital photography, and filmmaking.

To learn more about Joshua’s Stage, contact Joshua Levy, Executive Director, at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744, and check out our website at www.joshuasstage.org for upcoming sessions starting in August.

Do you have a desire to enrich the lives of children with special needs? We would love for you to join us! Check out our Volunteer page to sign-up today.

Joshua’s Stage is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contact Joshua Levy at joshua.levy@joshuasstage.org or 512-825-2744 if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution.

The Story Behind Joshua’s Stage

Over the years my parents and I tossed around an idea for a theatre school for children with special needs, and the idea quickly fluttered away each time we talked about it. This is the story of how that idea stopped fluttering, and started evolving.

Joshua’s Stage is the product of: my experiences and my passion for enriching the lives of children with special needs; my creative side that includes writing, directing, performing, singing, and dancing; following my parents’ advice, and my business background.

While in eighth grade I had the opportunity to earn credit as a teaching assistant for a special education class at my middle school. I worked one-on-one with students who had learning disabilities, and I taught several English/Language Arts lessons. I enjoyed the experience, and the idea of teaching hadn’t entered my world yet; I was headstrong about pursuing a career as a famous actor.

As a sophomore in high school I had the opportunity to earn credit as a teaching assistant for a 5th grade special education class working one-on-one with students and teaching several lessons. At that time my mother suggested that I consider teaching special education as my career, and I listened to my mother, and I started to think about it.

While a junior in high school, I was a classroom assistant for a special needs class at our Temple. I worked closely with a small group of remarkable kids who shined during their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

During the summers prior to my junior and senior years in high school I had the opportunity to work as a classroom assistant at the Mary Cariola Children’s Center in Rochester, NY. My aunt and uncle live in Rochester, and my aunt was working at the center at the time. Working with children with significantly cognitive and physical disabilities was eye-opening at first, and within a day or two, I saw the kids just as kids. It was a beautiful feeling.

While in high school I also served as the teen representative for the Board of Directors for the area United Way. I watched first-hand as a large body of people all worked together to achieve the same important goal.

By the fall of my senior year in high school I was aiming to become an inner-city middle school special education teacher. I went to the University of Nebraska (Go Big Red!) and my advisor strongly encouraged me to pursue elementary education/special education, and that’s just what I did. While student teaching special education I worked one-on-one with a sixth grader who had cerebral palsy. During a class field trip he and I rode a horse together, and the excited laughter from that kid on that horse was a definite trail blazing experience.

As a child I wrote short stories and plays, and I performed puppet shows and rap songs with my sister Jenny. When I was 9 years old I wrote, produced, and directed a play called Jackie The Realtor. Jenny played the lead role as Jackie, and the neighborhood kids played the other characters. While the play didn’t win any Tony awards, I still think we were a hit.

Throughout high school I sang in the choir, and I was in our school’s Company. I started by performing a monologue as Eugene from Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, then I worked as a back stage tech building sets for the school musical. The following year I performed in the The King and I as Captain Orton, Simon of Legree, and as a chorus monk. The next year we spiced it up a bit with Grease and I performed as Vince Fontaine proudly wearing a zebra tuxedo jacket, and as a chorus member. For my senior year finale performance, I played Grandpa in the play You Can’t Take It With You.

Staying true to the entertainer in me while in college, I worked as a mobile DJ for weddings, proms, reunions, company events, Bar/Bat Mitvahs, charity events, and a frat party or two. If you remind me, I’ll tell you about the time I almost hit a cow on the way home from an event, or the time when I DJ-ed out of my car to keep the wedding party going during a storm that knocked out the venue’s power.

In December 1998 I graduated, packed up a dorm room, and arrived in Austin, Texas. I taught special education for behavior disordered children in a social and behavior skills unit, and from there I taught elementary school children with learning disabilities. I made my way to teach high school special education English/Language Arts for students with learning disabilities, behavior issues, and other disabilities. Not letting my creative side down, teaching Shakespearean sonnets via studies of Outkast’s lyrics was a highlight.

I caught the bug of ambition and pursued an interest in educational administration. As the assistant principal of a charter high school, my creative side was utilized as I was also the school’s theatre arts teacher. I wrote and directed plays for the class to perform in front of the school.

After an amazing experience at the charter school, I re-entered the special education arena teaching emotionally disturbed high school students in a social and behavior skills unit, and I wrote mini-plays for the class that focused on interpersonal skills.

With the ambition bug still flying around, I gave administration another go. As the assistant principal at an elementary school I took full advantage of the fun-Friday assemblies and led the entire student body, faculty, staff, and parents in the Cha-Cha-Slide.

I cha-cha-ed out of administration and found a new journey in the corporate world. I was with Pearson for nine years. While at Pearson in December 2008 I vividly remember sitting in my cubicle thinking that someday I would combine all my experiences into something, but I wasn’t sure what. I decided that a needed ingredient to help me discover that something was an MBA, and I went ahead and acquired mine from February 2009 to December 2011.

The next bug I caught was the bug that was invisible for a while, and it brought me further into thinking and soul searching for what’s next…what do I want to be doing that combines my passion for special education and something else, but I wasn’t sure about the something else.

Then bam, like Doc Brown hitting his head on the toilet and seeing the flux capacitor, it was in September 2015 that my heart and head connected, and that’s when I saw it…the something else…that idea that typically fluttered away…the theatre school for children with special needs. It struck me hard this time. I immediately emailed my parents and told them about the idea, and they quickly wrote back with strong encouragement. I called my wife Lori, and I told her about it, and that I was going to pursue it, and she gave the okay.

Since that day of flux capica-ta-ting in September 2015, amazing things have been put into motion.

Joshua’s Stage is absolutely, without a doubt, beautifully evolving into that something else.

%d bloggers like this: