"Kim & Delia" makes its debut
For those who had, or have, imaginary friends, the play "Kim & Delia," may strike a familiar chord. The children's play opened yesterday, July 1, at The FARM Institute. It is a production by the newly formed ArtFarm, written by its executive director Brian Ditchfield ("The Last Will and Testament of Marlboro Patch") and directed by Matt Gabor.
Full of sparkle, colorful costumes, huge puppets, and eclectic music, the show is performed in high energy - a dramatic contrast to the pastoral setting of FARM Institute's barnyard - the stage of "found space" - that comes complete with the occasional real animal who insists on being part of the fun.
It is children's theater with serious content. The play invites youngsters to consider such things as how adults and children can move forward in the face of adversity, and how imagination can help one endure hardship.
ArtFarm's artistic director, Brooke Hardman, who will be performing in plays in Boston this fall, says that this play "requires that you go back to a time in your life and try to remember when you had imaginary friends."
"Kim & Delia," centers around Kim, a 10-year-old girl (Alley Ellis), and her imaginary friend Delia (Ms. Hardman). The wonderful villain, Wolfgang, is played by Jenn Harris.
The story weaves back and forth between home on a farm, the Land of Lost Imaginary Friends, the Hypnotic Woods, and even a Dragon Patch. It features witches, dragons, tea parties, and although the theme is serious, there is also much humor and laughter.
At the heart of it all is the vision of ArtFarm's Ms. Hardman and her husband, Mr. Ditchfield. Together with actress Jenn Harris, and director Mr. Gabor, they form a team that has worked in productions ever since attending the College of Fine Arts at Boston University together.
Mr. Ditchfield admits that Wednesday's opening had him feeling both "nervous and thrilled." Although he began writing the play with a Hispanic theme, while he was living in Chicago, it changed direction on Martha's Vineyard. Mr. Ditchfield says there is no place he'd rather have it produced than on the Island where he grew up with imaginary friends, forests, and fields. He calls the cast "an incredible ensemble," and their chemistry comes through loud and clear.
Both Ms. Hardman and Mr. Ditchfield are excited about their newest project, The Martha's Vineyard Center For The Arts, a home for ArtFarm and other projects. Plans are being made to house The Center in the Edgartown School.
"Kim & Delia," 10 am, July 2. July 3-July 12, 5 pm. No show July 4, 6. Location: The FARM Institute in Katama. $10. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. For more information: 508-939-4244, or artfarmenterprises.com.
Kerri Buckley is a freelance writer living in West Tisbury.