In school, students are expected to focus on subjects such as math, science and English, while things like art, theater and music often get seen as an after thought or just something to do for fun. On Sunday, Oct. 20, ARTrageous brought the arts to the forefront from 3 p.m to 5 p.m in the Wilkins Theatre.
ARTrageous is a show consisting of 11 different performers, artists, singers and musicians, who work together to create a colorful-interactive shows through a mix of music, art, puppetry and singing. Their main goal as a show is to give people something to connect with and brighten their day as explained by Lauri Francis, one of the artists in the show.
"I think our goal is to just connect with other humans in a way that's inspirational and joyful and kind of takes you out of your day a little bit, so that you can have a different experience that you might not have experienced before and we actually use the art and the music as tools to be able to do that," Francis continues, "I think in general people leave happier when they come see an ARTrageous show then when they walked in. I think that's a really big goal."
Their goal came to life that night as the audience members took in the wonder of their performances and even got to participate in it themselves throughout the night. The crowd was invited to sing along to songs, dance and there was even a point during the show when everyone got to throw balloons around the theatre and interact with one another. Some people from the crowd were even invited on stage to show off their individual colors as dancers. It was a fun time that started long before the curtains rose for the main show to begin.
Even before the show began, people were able to come early for arts and crafts in the lobby. There were different tables set up with things like scratch art postcards, paper to color in and a chance to make a lollipop ghost out of string, a white sheet and a black crayon. The lobby also had art work on display from the Deron School in Montclair, New Jersey that works with people aged 13 to 21 on the Autism Spectrum.
Steve Cochran, manager of Kean Stage, collaborated with Ellen Headen who works with Kean's School of Communication Disorder and Deafness to bring students from the Deron School to the show. They hope to continue to collaborate with the Deron School in the future for other sensory friendly shows.
Cochran went on to explain the importance of bringing groups like ARTrageous to Kean University.
"I saw [ARTrageous] at a conference a few years ago. What I loved about it is it's energy. It's very interactive. As you just witnessed, there's no boundaries on ages. It goes from the very young to the very old," said Cochran. "The arts are so important [and] they sort of get forgotten. Sometimes in the STEM world of science, technology, math and engineering, we forget about the A for STEAM: the Arts. Like [ARTrageous] said here, art creates imagination and creates spirit, so I really have been enjoying bringing the arts [to] Kean University."
ARTrageous truly was a fun time for all ages and expertly interwove live vocals and instruments with the art of painting and puppetry right before the audience's eyes. It was a chance to combine the things people do not typically get to see in their daily lives, and it is what Cochran was hoping for in bringing shows like this to Kean.
"The people who are [at Kean University] currently need to be exposed to this. It's not hip-hop, not rap, not comedians, not what they are typically used to. The thing that's always so exciting, and I see it with my young student ushers who work here, they're sort of blown away by the other art out there besides what they're used to. That's what I love about what we do. We expose not only the students, but the community and school to all different forms of artwork. This show incorporates music, dance, puppetry, painting right before your eyes, quickly and beautifully."
The night ended with the entirety of the audience being invited on stage to meet the performers and get to see the art that was created throughout the show as well as to get something of their own made over in the Splatter Station so that they could take home their own artistic piece from the night.