Arena Civic Theatre wraps up Summer Youth Program with ‘Holka Polka’ shows in Deerfield

By AALIANNA MARIETTA

For the Recorder

Published: 08-03-2023 2:53 PM

DEERFIELD — Audiences will embark on a magical mystery that twists famous fables when Arena Civic Theatre presents “Holka Polka,” the final play of its third Summer Youth Program.

The play will be performed at Deerfield Elementary School on Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Aug. 6, from 1 to 2 p.m. General admission tickets cost $15 and tickets for students and seniors cost $13.

Alana Martineau, Arena Civic Theatre’s president and producer of the play, said grants from the Franklin County Rotary Club and the Massachusetts Cultural Council funded the Summer Youth Program. Jayse Matrishon, a Summer Youth Program veteran, directed the play alongside assistant directors Susan Dresser, Leanne Mizula and Cheryl Moreau.

Rehearsals kicked off in June, with kids ages 5 to 18 meeting three times a week at Greenfield, Turner Falls and Deerfield parks, Martineau said. She described the program as a free “theater summer camp” that taught participants that theater is more than acting. The youth actors cut and painted cardboard sets with a team of “really involved parents,” and teen participants wrote a few scenes for the play with speaking parts for the younger actors.

Throughout the program, Martineau said the older kids became mentors for the younger kids.

“It’s amazing seeing the 7-year-old kids be able to jump in and do improv with the teens,” Martineau said. “In the beginning, everybody’s shy,” but by the cast party at the close of the program, “they’re all crying.”

“It’s about introducing kids to theater and building relationships and friendships,” Martineau continued.

To her, the program continues after the curtain closes by building a theater community. Graduates from the Summer Youth Program returned this year to help backstage.

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“I don’t want them to think acting is the only part of theater,” she said. “It takes everybody to put this together.”

Past Summer Youth Program productions lasted two weekends, but Martineau predicts the shift to one weekend will attract larger audiences and give the actors a break before school.

Tickets are available at the door or at bit.ly/3OECmsu.

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