ELKINS — Like cheddar cheese, leather, and wine, The Old Brick Playhouse just gets better with age.
Since 1992, 2.5 million children, youth, and adults have experienced or participated in the Elkins based organization’s curriculum. Celebrating everything from the Titanic to Seussical, the Old Brick strives to produce provocative, engaging work that leaves their audiences and actors whimsey struck.
As time progresses, so does the Old Brick Playhouse, working tirelessly to make their subject matter topical, urgent, and accessible. The Old Brick Playhouse specializes promoting social change, cultural tourism, and lest we forget, Santa — using theatre as the vehicle by which to achieve positive outcomes.
The Old Brick’s theatrical dexterity can be evidenced in the award-winning Apprenticeship — an afterschool program that has twice been recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts as one of the top 15 arts education programs in the nation. Boasting an alumni roster of more than 5,000 Apprentices, this afterschool series of workshops culminates in a main stage production featuring seventy to 100 of West Virginia’s talented youth per year.
The Apprentice program, along with several others, begin in early September with what Executive Director Missy Armentrout McCollam calls “our most intriguing season yet.” The Old Brick Apprentices meet each Monday from 4:00-5:30 beginning on Sept. 9.
Teaming up with McCollam’s brother Steve Armentrout — a forerunner in the field of genetic genealogy and forensic DNA — and through support from The Clay Center for Arts and Sciences, The Old Brick will offer a cutting-edge approach to teaching tolerance through art and science. This programming will be once again available to area schools.
“As evidenced by our different career paths, our parents encouraged us to look at a situation from many alternative perspectives without limiting the possibility of what could be,” McCollam said.
“This approach obviously holds weight as I’m an artist and he is a scientist and we’ve found a way to collaborate,” she said.
“From the beginning, The Old Brick’s credo has been that Everyone is Different, and Everyone is Important,” said Old Brick Assistant Director Phil Smith. “When we started talking about today’s hot topics, the pairing of DNA study and tolerance seemed a natural fit.”
This year the Old Brick Playhouse aims to magnify its scope by integrating disciplines as well as age groups. One trademark of their work includes multigenerational projects such as Merrily We Go Along Art Therapy sessions at the Elkins Rehabilitation and Care Center and Summer Camp catering to younger students.
“Last season, our youngest artist was 4 years old and our oldest was 103,” remarks McCollam. “The idea that artistic endeavors should be exclusive is antiquated. Again and again we see the magic in collaboration.”
For more information on Old Brick Playhouse programming, call 304-637-9090.