Traditionally, schools are filled with trophies and plaques commemorating the achievements of sports teams and outstanding scholars. Thanks to Episcopal’s longstanding commitment to the arts, young artists also have an opportunity to have their achievements recognized.
Each year, the Episcopal art teachers select artwork from a rising fifth grader, a rising eighth grader and a graduating senior to add to the school’s permanent student art exhibit. Stroll through the VPAC and you’ll see seven years’ worth of student creations proudly and prominently displayed. The works feature everything from mixed media and acrylic to charcoal and graphite. The colors are vibrant and unexpected or simply black and white. Overall, there is a sense of maturity and sophistication that belies the students’ age.
Upper School art teacher Kate Trepagnier says for art students being selected for the school’s permanent exhibit is like earning that trophy or having their name listed on that plaque. As a show of true support for the arts, Episcopal actually purchases each piece from the students. Trepagnier says doing this demonstrates to these young artists “that their work is of value to the school and that they should value their work themselves.”
This year’s artists were recently honored at a luncheon in Head of School Hugh McIntosh’s office. Senior Lundyn Herring, Middle School student Arya Patel and Lower School student Allie Fain were all excited, and maybe even a little surprised, that their pieces are being celebrated in such a meaningful manner.
This tradition stays true to the school’s mission to develop the whole child – spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically. Episcopal truly is a place with something for every student. It was with this mission and this appreciation for the school’s unique culture that Trepagnier and former Associate Head of School Jason Hubbard initiated the student art exhibit in 2011.
The Episcopal student art exhibition is an enduring celebration of individual student contributions. It is an opportunity for students to share a piece of themselves with the school they love. Congratulations to this year’s honorees and thank you for sharing your work with others.
The story of Evangeline depicts a strong woman who trusts her own heart and remains committed to a dream, refusing to settle for less despite the challenges and obstacles this presents. Such a compelling character leaves a lasting impression on the audience as they experience first-hand her lifetime of waiting and hoping. But what is it like to be Evangeline?
first performance fueled her love of theater and she knew she had discovered her niche.
Upon graduation Ashley thanked her family for providing her with the Episcopal experience and headed off to Belmont University with a sense of promise and purpose. At Belmont East in New York, Ashley attended classes in the Empire State Building and interned at MTV Studios in Times Square. She dedicated herself to her studies and spent long hours at the studio gaining real-world experience. With such passion and commitment, she graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration focusing on music and production. Ashley’s hard work also earned her a job with MTV right out of college as the Studio Coordinator for shows such as Total Request Live, MTV News and the annual New Year’s Eve Special. She says she truly loved the work and the opportunity to meet celebrities such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Green Day. Her 100 percent commitment to the dream had truly paid off.
follow her heart, something quite unexpected occurred. The state of Louisiana got into the film industry. This meant Ashley, with her years of experience in the entertainment business, could come home to be with her love, while remaining true to her dream.
Ashley remembers back to her early relationship with Travis, who just happens to be a Cajun, and who had never seen the story of Evangeline. She brought Travis to the show’s ten year anniversary run at Playmakers. Travis, like most others who see it, was moved by the story of love and loss and waiting. In fact, he was so moved by the production that while walking out of the theater, the two decided right then and there that if they ever had a daughter her name would be Evangeline.
Evangeline Ann Fabre was born in May of 2013. Following her heart back to Baton Rouge was truly worth it for Ashley, having married Travis in August of 2009. Soon, their second daughter Adelaide Mary was born in April of 2015. Ashley worked in the Baton Rouge film industry for ten years, including 25 productions for networks like Syfy and Lifetime. She enjoyed the work, but eventually the 16 hour days proved to be too much for this wife and mom.
To focus more on her family, Ashley broke into the world of development at the Manship Theater. Later, in November of 2017 she was named the Director of Development for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, whose mission is to foster the creative capacity and vibrancy of the capital region through advocacy, resources, and education. For Ashley, sharing her love of art has helped her come full circle, back to where it all began. Her new role has given her the opportunity to reconnect with the very people she first met on the Episcopal stage as a third grade lip sync performer years ago.
As the 20th anniversary of Evangeline draws near, Ashley feels a connection with the lead as strong as ever. Like Evangeline she never settled for less, she made her own decisions regarding her life and she trusted her heart to lead the way. Ashley looks back on her time at Episcopal and says the experience and the people here have made her who she is today.
She remembers former theater director Danny Tiberghein’s poster that said “Why be Normal?” and reflects daily on his influence. Each day she hopes to make him proud. She credits current theater director Paige Gagliano with instilling in her a sense of purpose as she helped bring meaning to the scripts they performed. She remembers Bible study with Mrs. Johanna Leonard and the sense of community and faith that Episcopal created for her.
When asked what advice this original Evangeline has for today’s Evangeline, Ashley offers this:
“Enjoy the ride. It’s so special to be on that stage and to be a part of that community.” Ashley also hopes the current Evangeline will take the experience with her wherever she goes, similar to how Ashley has done since first portraying the role.
Ashley Day Fabre has crafted a life that she loves, while remaining true to herself. She lives by the motto “Everything happens for a reason”. Looking back it’s easy to see that everything that happened led her to her biggest, most rewarding roles – wife, mom and passionate arts promoter.
Congratulations Ashley. Evangeline would be proud!
The 20th anniversary run of “Evangeline” begins this weekend. Click here to purchase your tickets today!
"Evangeline” is Louisiana’s tale. Since the story was first told on the Greer Center stage here at Episcopal 20 years ago, it has become a defining piece for so many. The tale of long lost love set in the midst of the Acadian exile has impacted the lives of Episcopal families for a generation. Today’s cast is comprised of the children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends of those who have played the parts before them. For some, every member of the family has portrayed the same part and worn the same costume. It is a legacy that can only truly be told where it all began, by the people who created it.
Living in Louisiana and married to a Cajun local, Episcopal Band Director Paul Taranto felt compelled to share the story of the Acadians’ banishment from Nova Scotia in a way that would connect the audience with their plight. Having read the epic poem by Longfellow, Taranto began writing the songs and composing the music that would set the scene for Evangeline and her love Gabriel. The two were ripped apart the night of their betrothal as the King of England claimed their village of Grand-Pre. The musical follows the life of Evangeline as she stays true and faithful to the only man she ever loved. She never gives up and never doubts the commitment the couple forged the night before her home was burned, and so many of her loved ones were lost. Ultimately, she makes her way to the heart of the bayou, which becomes the new home of the Acadians.
Taranto initially teamed up with Episcopal Drama Teacher Danny Tiberghein and later Baton Rouge actor Jamie Wax to transform the story of Evangeline into a theater production. In November of 1998, this moving tale was first performed as a concert piece. The full musical came to life on March 24,1999, under the direction of Performing Arts Director Paige Gagliano. What resulted was a story that features the unbreakable spirit of humankind. “Evangeline” reminds the audience not to lose hope and that yes, the wait is worth it, if you are waiting for the right thing.
“Evangeline” proved to have a spirit all its own. It was more than just a play and its message truly hit home for those involved when they were dealt an unexpected tragedy. Before the play was ever complete, Tiberghein was killed, leaving a hole among the theater department staff that’s still felt today. As a result of this, the initial run was dedicated in Tiberghein’s memory. “We knew it was ordained. We knew it was bigger than all of us because it wasn’t about any one of us,” says Gagliano.
However, the story of “Evangeline” was just getting started. After LSU, LPB inquired about the production. The network wanted to broadcast the musical across the entire state of Louisiana. Again, Taranto, Gagliano and the Episcopal students were thrust onto a new and exciting stage and there was much more to come. There was a television recording done on the Strand Theatre stage in Shreveport and the performance was shared statewide, from Acadiana to New Orleans to Monroe. There were performances in Lafayette and visits to St. Martinville. There were CD recordings and local performances. CC Lockwood visited the cast and then-governor Kathleen Blanco met with the creators. Eventually, PBS picked up the performance and the story was broadcast to 46 states across the country.
Taranto’s vision of telling a tale that would connect with audiences has certainly become a reality. “Evangeline” has a dedicated following and elicits a deep passion that is still felt 20 years later. The play has been performed everywhere from Theatre Baton Rouge to Phoenix, Arizona to Nova Scotia, where the story originated so many years ago. The actors have spoken English and French and have included Broadway performers, amateurs and always, children. Everywhere the audiences have cried and laughed and ultimately risen to their feet with applause and praise.
“Evangeline” has such staying power because of its lasting message. It’s not only a story of long lost love, but also of faith, hope and promise. The story attempts to help people make sense of the world, regardless of the challenges that eventually befall us. It reminds us to keep going and keep believing and working toward our goals and ideals, even when they may seem out of reach or out of focus. Such faith and hope simply resonates with casts and audiences no matter the location, the language or the year.
And to think it all began with a cast of students from a school on Woodland Ridge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It all started from the musings of a talented and inspired band teacher who wanted to honor his wife’s heritage. It was crafted in honor of and in memory of someone who was passionate about theater and teaching students. It was and is for us all.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see where “Evangeline” takes you.
“Evangeline” is set to return to the Episcopal stage in honor of its 20 year anniversary. The show will run March 17th through March 24th. Tickets go on sale soon. All Episcopal alumni and previous “Evangeline” performers are invited to the closing night performance, which will feature a special opportunity to join today’s cast singing “Worth the Wait” on stage. Afterwards, a reception for alumni and cast will be held.
“You make the music to share the music.”
Band Director Paul Taranto and the gold jazz band shared their musical talents at the annual jazz-on-the-deck concert this week. The 10th, 11th and 12th graders played a range of songs featuring several soloists and a strong ensemble sound.
Taranto says performing music is all about fun and that was definitely the case on the deck. As the older students were hitting the high notes and keeping the beat, the patio was filled with students from Lower School. The youngsters enjoyed dancing, snapping and clapping along. Where else but at a school that educates students from preK-3 to 12th grade could this happen?
This week’s performance is just one example of how the band is sharing their music with others. Since August they have also delighted audiences at St Luke’s, Trinity, Dufroq Elementary and Episcopal’s Lower School during morning meeting. In addition to touring, the students even made a group recording at Cedar Park recording studio.
Several Episcopal performers are finding additional ways to share their love of music. Kenny Schaffer, who hopes to someday become a composer, wrote an original composition over the summer. Laura Kurtz arranged a pop tune for a jazz ensemble. Lauren Smith was accepted as a member of the Louisiana Youth Orchestra on oboe for the second year running.
The band department will wrap up its performance season next week with their annual Christmas concert featuring Christmas favorites played by the sixth grade beginners, the seventh grade advanced students and the Upper School Wind Ensemble. We invite you to attend their concert as well as a seasonal performance by the choir.
SAVE THE DATE
Lessons and Carols - December 5th at 7 pm in the Chapel
Jazz Band Christmas concert - December 7th at 7 pm in the VPAC
Bravo! Fairies. Pirates. Lost Boys. Brave Girls. Mermaids. The costumes were brightly colored, the set was spectacularly detailed and the audience was enthralled as Peter Pan, Jr. hit the stage this week. It’s been 15 years since the tale became the first play to be performed on the VPAC stage. This year the boy who wouldn't grow up and the cast of characters returned to the stage in honor of this anniversary. The show featured a cast of 152 kids between third and eighth grades. 1-5-2! The average age of the students was ten years old, with many on stage for the very first time. While many of the students were new to performing, you certainly could not tell.
From the moment Peter Pan and the massive cast filled the stage and the surrounding area, to the cast’s final number there was a sense of excitement and joy throughout the VPAC. The young performers belted out musical numbers with confidence. They danced and delivered lines with ease. The performance was filled with pride, youthfulness and yes, even pixie dust.
Peter Pan, Jr. showcased the Episcopal community’s support and enthusiasm for each other. Family, friends, visiting schools and teachers from across campus were present to cheer on the young thespians. Nightly performances were sold out, with even tickets for the final dress rehearsal going fast. Many on campus were involved in making the show a success from the light and sound crews to the art students who made headpieces.
Perhaps this show of support and the encouragement felt among family and friends provided these first time actors the boost they needed to tackle the stage for the first time. No doubt for many of them this certainly will not be the last time. As they continue to participate in theater productions they will find that they grow from each experience with exposure to new people and an empathy and understanding that comes from playing the part of someone else.
Peter Pan, Jr. was the first play performed on the VPAC stage fifteen years ago. It’s safe to say today’s cast made the original crew proud with their rendition.
There is much more to theater than learning lines, hitting your mark and knowing your cues. One of the most meaningful parts of theater is something of which the actors, support staff and audience members are not even aware. Something a spotlight cannot reveal. Empathy.
“Empathy is the root. When we stop working to understand each other, that’s when we cave in,” says Paige Gagliano, or “Mrs. G.” as the students refer to her. Paige, Episcopal’s Director of Performing Arts, says the ability to create connections and establish understanding among different people makes the arts so important for the human experience. She points to one of her favorites – “Ragtime” – as an example. She says the piece helps the audience understand the “un-understandable” or the “un-comprehensible”, as the audience is introduced to three groups struggling with their circumstances in early 20th century America. “We’re scared to look at this,” says Paige. She says we struggle to imagine that we could feel the same or act the same in a similar setting.
The magic of theater is that the actor is tasked with becoming another person. Paige says to do this they must first discover two things – What does this person want? What will they do to get it? As the actor embarks on this journey of understanding, they learn the why behind the actions and understand more about the person’s behavior and how something so unimaginable could occur.
Part of this journey to understand the other’s perspective is learning more about your own. In a recent Theater and Religion class, Paige asked students to think about the positive and negative people in their lives. Students reflected on the traits of these people and determined which traits they value most. From this reflection, students were then asked to write a personal creed.
Such a personal, vulnerable assignment could only be completed in a safe, trusting environment. Paige creates that for her students. She advises them that there is no judgement or need for fear. In her theater there is acceptance and understanding. Often she even tells students that nine out of ten times what they try might “really stink”. However, it’s on that tenth try that they will soar.
Such insight and personal understanding creates new opportunities and unexpected bonds. For example, as the actors learn more about why their characters say or do things, they understand and relate better with their cast mates. Students who may not have been friends otherwise, connect. Common ground is found among students who previously overlooked or misunderstood each other.
Paige says her goal in teaching theater is to develop empathetic people who can take a risk and fail. Developing empathy for others will serve students well in all aspects of their life, for all of their life. She says it helps students have better control of their own emotions and a better understanding of the emotions of others. Empathy helps students be better prepared to diffuse problems and more willing to take responsibility for their own actions.
Her teaching approach is working. There are 150 students currently involved in the Peter Pan Jr. production and more than 100 interested in this spring’s run of Evangeline!
The Middle School production of Peter Pan Jr. runs November 13th – 17th. It’s Mrs. G’s hope that when the lights go up, the actors will have been transformed by the journey and will find themselves more open and connected with the world around them. We invite you to be a part of that experience. Get your tickets now.
"I had been looking forward to doing the performance and teaching for a while, then I learned we were teaching to more than 300 kids. It was more than I had expected but the reward was greater. All in all this was an amazing experience and I’d love to do something like it again.” Mackenzie Bell, Episcopal 11th grader.
The Episcopal Dance Ensemble recently performed Louisiana Strong for the entire student body of Park Forest Elementary School. The dance ensemble consists of 14 dancers. That’s 14 teen dancers for 300 elementary kids! Those numbers might intimidate most, but the dancers delivered a powerful performance that captivated even the youngest in the crowd.
Park Forest, like Episcopal, was significantly impacted by the 2016 flood. One year later, this common experience has led to a meaningful connection between the two schools, forged by a love of dance. Louisiana Strong was choreographed by Episcopal Dance Instructor Christine Chrest to evoke the sense of chaos that was felt during the flood and the positive sense of community that followed. Chrest says it was exciting to see students from both schools connect through the piece.
“They were absolutely in awe of the beautiful choreography and costumes. The following week at school we were able to have discussions during dance class about how the dance made them feel, and how dance, like all art forms, can be used as a means of communicating ideas and emotions,” said Park Forest Dance Instructor Anna Schwab.
In addition to performing for the elementary students, the Episcopal dancers also taught the students dance terminology and the moves to match. “Every grade had one or two terms to look for and every grade got their term correct. I know dancers who are sixteen and can’t recognize half of the terms the little kids did. They surpassed my own expectations for them,” said Lauren Reed.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see the graceful movements of this group. We invite you to this year’s Fall Dance Concert, which is scheduled for November 30th at 7 pm in the VPAC.
Photography. Sculpture. Graphic design. Markers. Pencils. Acrylic. Pottery and more.
The annual All School Fall Art Show is now underway in the VPAC, featuring work from all divisions. The art forms displayed are as diverse and varied as the students who created them. There are projects made from recycled materials and even basic cardboard, just proving that art can come from anything.
While sharing art can be a very personal thing for some, AP art student Claire Hook says it’s very rewarding because an artist puts a lot of time into each project. “I like that my work makes others happy,” she says from the paint-splattered Upper School art room.
Arts are central to an Episcopal education and are even included in the school’s mission – to nurture and develop the whole child – spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically. Russell Roper, longtime art teacher and department chair, says art is a great outlet for students dealing with the everyday pressures of life. It also provides hands-on activity and boosts overall creativity.
Mr. Roper says art also encourages collaboration. Each year the art teachers work hand-in-hand with the music and theater departments to make sure an exhibit is up in the lobby to coincide with each performance. Art students also assist with theater props, with projects in the works now for the upcoming Middle School production.
This first art show is just the beginning with several more planned throughout the year.
We invite you to visit the VPAC and take a look now through November.
[I]t is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions that result from our misnaming them...
The 2014 team performing “Fences.”
Gabrielle Bienasz ’16, Bria Johnson ’14, Chloe Matthews ’14, and Julia Powell ’16
As the poets take the stage, I can see their nervous energy. It is finals night for the ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival at the Manship Theatre, and they have spent all afternoon, and every free moment they could find in the last week, rehearsing the poem that they wrote together and are about to perform. The four poets station themselves across the stage with deliberate stiffness, standing rigidly and holding hands with the people next to them at an angle that creates what I know is the outline of a picket fence. Beginning together, “We fences, we see everything,” the poets in turn describe the views in their neighborhoods: what a fence might witness that the people might not see or want to see. The fences are chain link or wood, perfectly manicured or in disrepair, and they stretch all over town, both connecting and dividing the city. But in each case these fences “see” people performing and pretending: children pretending to be adults or to be dutiful carriers of parents’ ideologies, parents holding up facades of perfection that mask deep divisions, children playing pretend with the adult world, the adult world also pretending to be something else. As the poets weave their individual stories and observations together, they make layered and complex critiques of their worlds, but the strength of their performance evaporates my concerns that their ideas won’t be clear to the audience.
As the nods, snaps, and sighs of the audience turn to applause and we wait for the judges’ response, I watch with new amazement and pride, even though I’ve seen this many times, and even as I worry that they’ve broken the time limit or that they’ll be too hard on themselves over a missed line or misspoken word and won’t see that they nailed it. I repeat to myself the slam poetry mantra, “The points are not the point; the poetry is the point,” as if I could remind my team telepathically.
As a teacher and coach, I love the entire process of working with my poetry team on a group piece, from their first conversations to this final performance. With up to four poets collaborating to write, choreograph, and perform a poem together, these pieces offer a powerful challenge to a team. Each year, when my students begin the process of brainstorming, they quickly realize that they need to find a topic that matters to all of them, but that they each have something different to say about. As they decide on their topic and begin to map out on my whiteboard what each poet will contribute, they find that their different identities, perspectives, and experiences are a source of strength. Building on each other’s ideas, the poets work to find the common ground that will bring their piece together and the distinct individual voices that will make it their own, thinking carefully about how their stories will connect and how they will differ. For example, as this process unfolded for “Fences," co-author Chloe Matthews ’14 notes that despite her concerns about how poets’ differences might ultimately link together, "The singular fence was a metaphor we were able to use to firmly imply that, while our different perspectives mattered individually, none were any more or less significant in the grand scheme of it all.” Though I hope to support them with a well-timed question or a push to sharpen an image or explore an idea a bit further, but my role at this stage is mostly as a witness to their creation. And as a witness, appropriately, I find something poetic in the ways that they honor each others’ stories, the connections that they create across race, gender, religion, class, and sexuality that value their differences without minimizing or polarizing.
Because they are adolescents, all of the students I teach are in a critical stage of understanding how their identities are shaped by but exceed these identity markers. Because I teach English, the tools I have to support that endeavor are reading and writing, and they can be powerful tools. I work to pose questions and introduce my students to texts that help them to consider how their own stories intersect with and diverge from the stories of others, that ask them to explore how history and culture shape all of our stories, and that call for them to engage with information that often challenges their beliefs and understandings. We discuss Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s claim that “how [stories] are told, who tells them, when they are told, [and] how many stories are told, are really dependent on power,” and we consider stories’ power "to dispossess and to malign,” but also “to empower and to humanize” by reading and responding to literature that represents identity and difference in many different ways. The results of that work are highly individual: while some students take firm steps toward seeing identity in a critical historical and social context, others dismiss what they see as a political agenda, and many simply build their ability to consider others’ perspectives and extend the range of perspectives they have examined.
I know I share with all my colleagues a commitment to teaching for community, social justice, and respecting the dignity of every person. In my classroom and beyond it, that commitment means recognizing and honoring our differences and our many stories.
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Students in Media Art, Communication Design and Photojournalism 8 have collected this semester’s work in digital portfolios. The hands on, project based learning experiences offered in these art courses engage Middle and Upper School students in a way that encourages them to communicate their unique visions through their art, while gaining experience with creative tools and vocabulary.
The students meet in the media lab of Perkins 212 with teacher, Dianne Madden, and have access to Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras and the Adobe creative suite. Media Art focusses on design and photography as students become the authors and creators of the Accolade yearbook. Communication Design emphasizes graphic design, branding and marketing, and Photo Journalism 8 is an introductory course in photography for eighth graders. We welcome you to visit the site and view the images.
Portfolios can be viewed at www.ehsbrportfolio.com