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A magical tree grows on the edge of a changing neighborhood and holds entire worlds inside its bark. For three misfit kids who live down the street, it’s the only way they can escape who and where they are …” So begins the synopsis of a new play, The Sky Game, commissioned by Peppercorn Theatre at Kaleideum as part of an initiative to depict adventures that reflect the local community.  The play will open on Friday, June 16, and run through Sunday, July 2, at the Delta Arts Center, located at 2611 New Walkertown Road in Winston-Salem.

Playwright Kimberly Belflower, a recent graduate of the Playwrighting Master’s program at The University of Texas – Austin, began her writing process by consulting with local educators Peter Wilbur of the Arts Based School and Nathan Ross Freedman of Authoring Action. Through interviews and research about the area came the story of children in a changing neighborhood who bond around the one thing that seems to be a constant in their lives, the home base for their evolving imaginative game — a tree.

Through the Wells Fargo Arts-in-Education Grant, awarded by the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Peppercorn Theatre at Kaleideum was able to bring the play’s early research to Mineral Springs Middle, where Dramaturg Claire Simpson lead 20 seventh graders through Peppercorn’s Young Dramaturgs program. Over the course of a semester and a half, Simpson and the class examined the themes of Belflower’s new play, and each student was challenged to explore how true the story felt to him or her, as well as provide research and feedback about the content of the script. The Young Dramaturgs program helps ensure that Peppercorn’s primary audience – young people – hear and see themselves in the works that are produced.

The Sky Game is presented in partnership with Delta Fine Arts, a community institution that strives to “enrich the lives of neighborhood and area residents by stimulating interest throughout the entire community in American arts and humanities, with emphasis on the contributions of African Americans.” This will be the second partnership between Delta Fine Arts and Peppercorn Theatre. The first was Peppercorn’s original play Five Row: Growing Up with Reynolda, a story about the African American village housed on the Reynolda Estate in the 20th century.

Public performances will be held on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June 16 through July 2. Tickets are $7 each ($3 for Kaleideum members) and may be purchased online at www.peppercorntheatre.org. Group programming, which includes conversations with the artists and activities that engage students with the themes of the performance, will be held on weekdays between public weekend showings. Group programming is intended to engage students before they see live theatre, as well as continue the conversation beyond the performance through discussion, creating, and play. For additional information about group programming or to reserve a group visit, please contact Harry Poster, Artistic Director of Peppercorn Theatre at Kaleideum, at hposter@kaleideum.org.