by Barbara Black
It has gone from strength to strength. The Centre for the Arts in Human
Development started in the mid-1990s as a combination of community outreach,
opportunity for research, and training-ground for arts therapists. Five
years, three musical productions and at least one national television
documentary later, its a smash success.
We believe in people. We believe in the arts. Thats
the credo of the Centre, as expressed by Professor Stephen Snow at a buffet
lunch held last Friday in The Hive, on the Loyola Campus. About 140 invited
guests had just enjoyed sitting in on music and movement workshops in
Hingston Hall with the Centres intellectually handicapped clients,
who attend the Centre several days a week throughout the school year.
Among the invited guests was Jonathan Birks, representing the Birks Family
Foundation, which has given a substantial donation to maintain the Centres
Community Outreach Program for the next seven years.
Entertainment at the lunch was provided by the Centres participants,
who sang and tap-danced musical numbers from past shows. These are original
musicals built on well-known storiesthe story of Aladdin, the sequel
to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland have formed
the basis for shows so farbut the songs and dialogue are built around
the particular abilities of the actors.
Anyone who saw Oh, That Aladdin!, The Winds of Oz and And
Alice Dreams. . . can tell you how charming and impressive these productions
are. The actors are thoroughly prepared and quietly coached through their
performances. The music, composed and arranged by Shelley Snow, is played
by professionals, and in fact, a compact disc is being made to showcase
some of these numbers.
The actors obviously love what theyre doing. Most of them seem to
thrive on being in the spotlight, and take on self-confidence and poise
that surprise and touch their families.
Genuine talent is discovered through this work. The young woman who played
Alice in last springs production wasnt able to perform her
song at the luncheon because she was in Las Vegas and Boston, performing
to raise funds for a foundation supporting people with Williams
syndrome, which she has.
Looking for a home
Lenore Vosberg is a social worker with the West Montreal Readaptation
Centre. It was her idea to do the first musical production; she is now
also the clinical coordinator and fundraiser for the Centre. She says
that the Birks donation is much appreciated, but the Centre is not out
of the woods yet.
The next challenge is to find a permanent home for their workshops and
rehearsals. As construction begins on the new science complex at Loyola,
the Department of Communication Studies and Journalism will take some
of the space now used by the Centre in Hingston Hall.
The next show will be mounted in spring 2002. While youre waiting,
you can purchase one of the CDs produced by the Centre; theyll be
available by the beginning of June, for $20. Call 848-8619 to order one.