This post was contributed by AmeriCorps Museum Educator and No Time to Waste actor Gina Sparacino.
At Providence Children’s Museum, when an enthusiastic actor appears in a bowler hat, you know it’s almost show time!
“Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Museum patrons of all ages! Our performance of No Time to Waste, a 20-minute comedy about trash and recycling, will begin just seconds from now! Doooooon’t be late for No Time to Waste!”
Often times, the voice behind this booming announcement belongs to seasoned performer Bill Oakes. The last remaining member of the “original cast,” Bill has been appearing in No Time to Waste since it was created for the Museum by the City Stage Company in 2002 and has become the de facto “stage manager” for the production. Each year, he trains new AmeriCorps members to join the rotating cast and ensures that the show stays true to its original goals.
“One thing I really enjoy about this play,” shares Bill, “is that the ideas are always current. It’s always important to make the message second nature to the next generation – to help them to think about reducing, reusing, and recycling first and disposing second.” Despite the serious mission, all of the lessons are shared through a very silly, very funny, very interactive experience.
The show begins with a short comedy of errors involving the two main players. As events unfold, shrieks of surprise and giggles abound, and eventually everyone comes to understand that “the landfill is running out of space and there’s no time to waste!” The message about the importance of washing, sharing, repairing and recycling is further emphasized during the audience participation portion of the show. While child volunteers come onstage, wear costumes, and play products made from trees, oil, and minerals, the crowd gets to decide whether to recycle them or – gasp! – send them to the landfill! There are always a few persistent votes from the “trash lobby” but overall recycling almost always wins. Everyone gets a big round of applause and we conclude with a rollicking call-and-response song-and-dance number to bring it all home with style.
As an AmeriCorps member this past year, I was lucky enough to join the No Time to Waste family. Though I’ve performed in plays since fourth grade, I have never acted in a show quite like this. The unpredictable nature of each performance keeps it fresh and interesting for both audience and actors. Of course an element of spontaneity is present in all live theatre; however, there is something particularly exciting about appearing in semi-improvisational interactive theatre with kids.
Naturally, certain groups are shy and less inclined to enter the spotlight. At other performances, everyone is eager to get involved. Kids literally leap up to their feet, thrilled to play the coveted roles of “paper towel,” “plastic bag” and “jam jar.” Grown-ups get involved too – asking questions, contributing suggestions, and even occasionally joining us onstage! Recently, as if it had been scripted, every member of one audience shouted an energetic “YAY!” at the show’s close. Whether or not crowds are that vocal, it’s clear that the message of No Time to Waste is getting through. As Bill puts it, “No Time to Waste appeals to people of all ages and in a fun and fundamental way, teaches about recycling.”
Come join the fun and “talk trash” with us! No Time to Waste plays August 9 and 16 at 10:30, 11:30, 12:15 and 1:15. Check our calendar for performance times in future months.