Updates from Johnson County Community College: Carlsen Center partners with local puppet theater to offer educational videos

In the Workshop is set in a vibrant maker space with an assorted cast of puppets and human actors. Photo provided by Travis Wall/Austin Young Studios

The Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College is partnering with local Mesner Puppet Theatre to present In the Workshop – a digital series designed to teach pre-K through second grade students about social-emotional learning through art, storytelling and puppetry.

In the Workshop is set in a vibrant maker space with an assorted cast of puppets and human actors. This coterie of characters must learn valuable skills such as emotional intelligence, empathy and resilience in order to work together and grow. The series is designed to help young people understand their emotions and respond to challenging situations in a positive manner.

Behind the Scenes

Each episode was filmed at JCCC on the Polsky Theatre stage. Carlsen Center crew members, who typically run light and sound equipment during live performances, had to learn new techniques to support the production. Their efforts helped successfully integrate photography, camera operators, electricians, directors and more into the final production.

“Partnering with Mesner Puppet Theatre has allowed the Carlsen Center Arts Education Program to amplify an important voice in theatre for young audiences here in Kansas City. We are thrilled to welcome their team into Polsky Theatre, which we have transformed into a film studio. This project has stretched our backstage crew into learning new skills and given us a creative outlet in the midst of the pandemic,” said Kara Armstrong, Program Director, JCCC Arts Education.

Season one will have eight episodes total, the first video will be available Sept. 18. Remaining episodes will be released monthly through May 2021.

The cost for schools to secure the digital series and supporting materials ranges from $300 to $1,000, depending on the number of students. Parents can rent individual videos directly from the website for $10 dollars. Each rental includes unlimited views for 48 hours.

Expanded Reach

 After seeing a clear need for this type of programming, The Carlsen Center partnered with the JCCC Foundation to provide $5,000 to underwrite the program at local schools. This is in addition to the schools underwritten by JCCC Arts Education funding.

“The JCCC Foundation is proud to help make this wonderful opportunity available to more students in community. Everyone involved with the JCCC Foundation knows how important it is to provide innovative, collaborative and meaningful educational experiences during these challenging times. The partnership between the Carlsen Center and Mesner Puppet Theater is a tremendous example of just that, and we’re honored to help more kids experience the series,” said Rob Wyrick, Director, JCCC Foundation.

More Information

Parents interested in renting In the Workshop episodes and supporting materials should visit the Mesner Puppet Theater website for more information.