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Community Engagement

Kennedy Center Brings Theater to Stockton

by Marc Ballon and Patrick GiblinMar 22, 2012

More than 4,500 San Joaquin County schoolchildren will be treated to free performances of the play "Locomotion" April 11-13 in Faye Spanos Concert Hall at University of the Pacific. The performance, adapted from the book of the same name by Jacqueline Woodson, is offered by The Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour.

 The play highlights the story of an 11-year-old African-American boy, Lonnie Collins Motion, Lo-Co-Motion, as he moves from tragedy to hope, from silence to expression, and from losing one family to gaining a new one.

This is the ninth appearance by the Kennedy Center's traveling theater group on the Pacific campus. Pacific is the only university in the country that offers the Kennedy Center performances at no cost to area schools. For many of the region's low-income children, this will be their first exposure to the performing arts.

Studies have shown that exposure to the arts improves problem-solving, decision-making, creative thinking, and discipline in young children. Other reports have concluded that art programs in schools can improve academic performance overall and decreased truancy and dropout rates.

"The University is proud to sponsor such an important program that offers incredibly valuable services to our community's children," said Cathy Dodson, the University's liaison for the Kennedy Center committee. "Part of the fun is seeing the faces of thousands of smiling school children watching our nation's premier acting company performing just for them."

Former Regent Dea Berberian and her husband, Regent Ron Berberian '65, are the two people primarily responsible for bringing the event to Pacific. Ron Berberian was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts in 2002. He used that position to start the Stockton's Kennedy Center Event Program. Since then, more than 28,000 children have seen various performances, including "The Nightingale," "Tom Sawyer," and "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka."

Besides Pacific, major sponsors include the Cortopassi Family Foundation and Food 4 Less/Rancho San Miguel Markets.   

While the performances for schools are free, there will be a public performance held at 7 p.m. April 12 in Faye Spanos Concert Hall. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and students and are available at the Pacific Box Office, 209.946.2867 and online at www.go.pacific.edu/tickets. Any funds raised beyond the cost of production support the Conservatory of Music Touring Fund and the Gladys L. Benerd School of Education Community Outreach Fund.


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