Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, October 29, 2001

Waiau school children painted portions of the set for
Wednesday's Hawaii Opera Theatre production of
"L'Enfant et les Sortilèges."

Pearl City children paint
enchanting set decorations
for ‘L’Enfant’

By Tim Ryan

The Contemporary Museum and Hawaii Opera Theatre have reached out to an unlikely group to decorate the set of upcoming performances of "L'Enfant et les Sortilèges (The Child and the Enchantment)."

Some 180 first- through sixth-graders at Waiau School in Pearl City put their imaginations to the test in painting 11-by-17-inch pictures of dancing teacups, a fire in a fireplace that comes to life, whimsical dragonflies, magical bats, scary trees and attacking chairs to form the theatrical backdrop for Wednesday's production.

Maurice Ravel's opera tells the story of a bad little boy in 1917 Normandy. He refuses to do his homework and destroys everything in his room.

Eventually, the objects spring to life and turn against him, seeking revenge for the destruction he has caused.

In the end, the boy helps an injured squirrel, and the objects decide that the boy is not so bad after all.

'L'Enfant et les Sortilèges'

Presented by Hawaii Opera Theatre

When: 6 and 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Hale Ohana First Presbyterian Church, 1822 Keeaumoku St.

Admission: $10 for adults; $5 for children

Call: 596-7858

It's the first time HOT has used kids to assist in a production, marking the initial collaboration between the Contemporary and HOT. Educators from both organizations spent about three weeks working with 19 classes in the effort.

After two assemblies in which the project was explained, the students were given one class period to paint their interpretations.

Artist David Hockney's installation, a highlight of the Contemporary's permanent collection, was inspired by the opera. The children learned about Hockney's work, the opera that inspired it, color, painting and design. In a series of sessions, Louise Lanzilotti, curator of education for the Contemporary Museum; museum educator Liz Train; and education assistant Lena Ching taught the children about Hockney's exhibit, the opera that inspired it, color, painting and design. HOT education and outreach manager Erik Haines, as well as education coordinator and "L'Enfant star" Stephanie Conching, also have been on hand for several of the sessions to educate children about opera.

"I think after they were inspired by Hockney's playful palette and forms, the students intuitively understood the project -- in the essence of what art is -- to reenvision the surrounding world," Lanzilotti said.

Some students at first had difficulty mixing colors to get the shades they desired; some of the older kids weren't initially as "free" in their interpretations as their younger counterparts, Lanzilotti said.

"But they ended up doing amazing things with colors and most importantly they had fun," she said.

"Art in general teaches kids about expression. This showed them that their ideas are important, that they can have their own concept of what things look and whatever they feel it should look like is OK."

About 100 paintings were chosen as the backdrop; the rest will be used to decorate the stage.

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