Expressions of Acceptance

An evening of all-inclusive, interactive micro-operas celebrating unity

Monday, November 2, 2015

7 p.m. / Journey for Community
Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Appleton

Embrace community and celebrate Appleton by participating in a pre-show walk or ride* down College Ave. from Memorial Chapel to the Performing Arts Center.

7:30 p.m. / Performance
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton

Choose your own experience of a variety of mini-operas performed simultaneously throughout the PAC lobby.

This event is free and we encourage the public to attend.

*A shuttle will be available for those who cannot walk easily.


Genesis of the project

Last spring, the opera studies division partnered with GLOW, Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities (CDFC), Riverview Gardens, and COTS for pre-show and post-show events surrounding Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land. The opera was written during the McCarthy trials and the themes included “the stranger among us” as well as “the stranger within.” The local and campus organizations had interactive stations in the lobby and cast members greeted every audience member who walked through the door. The audience members were given a small questionnaire with their programs to complete, which had four questions:

  1. Describe a time in your life when you felt like you were an outsider or didn’t fit in.
  2. Why is it common for people to be wary of strangers or newcomers?
  3. How can we help people feel welcome and accepted?
  4. What obstacles do people face in the Fox Cities and/or Lawrence University when they arrive here that might prevent them from enjoying all that our community has to offer?

Following the opera, members of CDFC led a discussion with the audience and cast with these questions as a springboard.

We received an unbelievable outpouring of questionnaires back from the audience members and the discussions were enlightening and healing.

This year, opera studies is joining with the Improvisation Group at Lawrence (IGLU) to create a series of improvised micro-operas based upon the audience feedback sheets from those performances in the spring! They will be small operas using the responses of the audience members, who completed the questionnaire in the program, as inspiration.

Expanding community

Joining our partners from last year (Riverview Gardens, CDFC, COTS, and GLOW), we are adding Kathy Flores (Mayor’s office; Diversity and Inclusion), INCLUDE, American Heritage, Inc., Casa Hispana, E.S.T.H.E.R., Goodwill, Fox Cities PAC, and CODA! These amazing groups will be working together to create a pre-show event starting with a Journey for Community which will begin at the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel and proceed to the Fox Cities PAC. Then, in the Kimberly-Clark Theatre, they will lead an audience warm-up building community and strengthening our sense of commonality.

What to expect inside

Once the audience enters the PAC lobby area, they will be able to choose their own path throughout the four-story lobby to experience a series of mini-operas scattered throughout the entire lobby area of the PAC. Operas will be performed in the bars, stairwells, seating areas, and possibly even in the elevator. Audience members may even tell their own stories in one improvised setting, if they choose.

Some operas may be a narrative story, while others may be a composition whose intention is to create an environment where the actors and musicians and/or the audience can experience the feelings brought about by the stories or topics submitted on the questionnaires last spring.

Following the micro-operas

The audience will return to the Kimberly-Clark Theatre where they can meet the cast, creative team and spend time together digesting the experience, as well as a post-show time with community leaders.