Dec 17, 2007


Many local businesses and individuals have helped Oddfellows Playhouse brighten the holidays for over 40 families of its Neighborhood Troupes living in Maplewood Terrace and the North End of Middletown and Chatham Court in Portland. Oddfellows is especially grateful to Kohl’s Department Store in Rocky Hill, Ken’s Cards and Collectibles of Berlin, Gorilla Graphics and A New World Laser Tag in Middletown for their generous contributions of goods and services. The Wesleyan University Knitters made scarves and mittens. Jerry’s Pizza, Tri-Town Market and the Family Dollar in Portland, Dunkin’ Donuts, Berlin Batting Cages, Farmington Mini Golf and Ice Cream, Public Market, Broad Street Books, Laser Quest in Newington, Target Superstores in New Britain, and K-Mart of Cromwell also made contributions to help Oddfellows fill the families’ holiday baskets, which were distributed at holiday parties in each of the neighborhoods.

Oddfellows’ Neighborhood Troupes program provides free, after-school activities for students, ages 5-18, from subsidized housing areas. Students come to the Playhouse once a week for theater classes, visual arts, snacks, and field trips. The goal of the Troupes program is to use theater to help these young people grow up to be more successful adults and support their work in school. Troupes are about learning life skills: interacting with peers and adults in a positive way, building trust and creating safe spaces, forming individual and community identities. Each Troupe also presents a performance every year, whether it is a mainstage production by older Troupes members or Share Day performances by younger ones. Troupes are facilitated by an artist/leader and 2 teaching assistants, usually Wesleyan University students. This year there are seven Troupes consisting of about 75 youngsters. Holiday Gift Giving is an annual event, an opportunity for Troupes leaders and assistants to talk to the families of Troupe members and share the spirit of the season.

The Neighborhood Troupes program has received support for the 2007-2008 season from the Middlesex United Way, Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, Middletown Commission on the Arts, Elizabeth Carse Foundation, and The Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Fund. Oddfellows Playhouse thanks all of these generous organizations for making a difference in the lives of these children.

For more information about Oddfellows’ Neighborhood Troupes program, call (860) 347-6143.