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October 2, 2020

Carlsen Center partners with Mesner Puppet Theatre to produce social and emotional development videos for youths.

Alex and Da'Lene, co-owners of the workshop. Image provided by Travis Wall /Austin Young Studios.

The Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College is partnering with Kansas City-based Mesner Puppet Theatre to present In the Workshop — a video 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 makerspace 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 to Polsky Theatre, which we have transformed into a film studio,” said Kara Armstrong, Program Director, JCCC Arts Education. “This project has stretched our backstage crew into learning new skills and given us a creative outlet in the midst of the pandemic.”

Season one will have eight episodes; the first video became available Sept. 18. Episodes will be released monthly through May 2021.

The cost for schools to secure the video 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. 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 funding for schools already underwritten by JCCC Arts Education. 

“The JCCC Foundation is proud to help make this wonderful opportunity available to more students in the community,” said Rob Wyrick, Director of the JCCC Foundation. “Everyone involved with the 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.”

More Information

Interested in purchasing In the Workshop episodes and supporting materials or applying for funding support? Visit the Carlsen Center for more information!