St. Kate's partners with Children's of Minnesota to film TV show
Lights. Camera. Action.
There’s a new star on Chicago Avenue South — the Minneapolis location of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota — and that star is none other than St. Kate’s.
Through a unique partnership, students at St. Kate’s have been given the opportunity to develop and perform a television show for children at the hospital.
“Children’s Hospitals recently renovated their Minneapolis campus and when they did those renovations, they included a state-of-the-art theater to do this live interactive programming for their patient population,” said Professor Allison Adrian.
Adrian was contacted by Children’s of Minnesota last year, in the debut year of the new Music-Theater Department at St. Catherine University. As soon as the staff at Children’s of Minnesota heard about the emerging program, they asked if St. Kate’s students would join their regular rotation of television programming. Here was a group of students that had both an ear for music and an eye for how to look and act on the screen.
“I reached out to St. Kate’s partially because we have such a great relationship with the nursing program,” said Tanya Juarez-Sweeney, of Children’s of Minnesota. With that structure and relationship already in place, she said St. Kate’s seemed the perfect venue for starting a children’s program.
Adrian moved quickly to take advantage of the opportunity, appointing a student to work alongside her throughout the summer months, in order to formulate a pilot for the show by the end of August.
“I was excited both because it was an opportunity for our students to have this experience, and for them to be able to have this place where they really get to use their creativity and the skills they learn in class, and apply those skills in a really meaningful setting,” said Adrian. “There’s this great social justice aspect of it as well.”
The show students would create would expand the reach of the closed-circuit programming at Children’s of Minnesota. While the hospital already had shows that appealed to young children, staff members were looking to reach an older age group.
“When we were talking to them, it sounded like there was a gap in the programming and one that we could easily fill given the age of our students, who are really close to that tween year or teen years, or just out of it,” said Adrian. “We’re trying to engage these adolescents at Children’s through this new program.”
Reaching an adolescent audience
To find effective ways to connect with that older audience, Adrian brought on Etty Hathaway ‘14, a French and art history major with a passion for theater. Hathaway performed in both musical productions on St. Kate’s campus during her freshman year, "The Miracle Worker” and “Hello, Dolly!” She entrenched herself in the beginning stages of the music-theater partnership, and conceptualized many of the ideas for the show.
The undertaking was a two-part project. First, Hathaway conducted research through the Summer Scholars' internship at St. Kate’s, basing her research on the relationship between arts and healing with reference to pediatrics. She also conducted an internship with Children’s of Minnesota, participating in the television programming that was already provided on site.
Hathaway co-starred on the show “Kids’ Clubhouse” on several occasions, in order to get a feel for the process it would take to develop a new show. And she met frequently with the staff to brainstorm different ideas and see what might work and what might not.
“It has given me a lot of insight into what the production entails at that end and what we need to be doing over here,” said Hathaway, during her internship. “It has been a lot of fun. The people at Children’s have just been great to work with and always insightful.”
An educational experience
Though the show continues to evolve, students who have volunteered to work on the project came up with an educational show to present to their youthful audience. They worked with the staff of Star Studio at Children’s to film a pilot program in August, and came back with a polished script for the filming session on Sept. 30.
Four segments, focusing on reading, science, international travel and guest interviews, were filmed on location at Star Studio at the end of September, with a lively show host and a catchy tune to keep the kids’ attention.
Evan Gaydos ’12, who was there to film the show with other students on Sept. 30, spoke to both the educational value and the social justice piece of the show.
“As a theater performance minor, it’s just another aspect I get to work with, and it’s such a good cause,” said Gaydos. “Hospitals — you’re stuck there and it’s reading or television. And this is really fun and it has an educational aspect to it. So it’s just really, really rewarding.”
The show also includes a healthy dose of humor, song and dance, and in the future it will offer patients at both the Minneapolis and St. Paul locations of the hospital a chance to call in and hear their voices on the air.
“We’ll film most of our episodes live so that we can add the interactive component to them, which is, I think, a neat component, especially for the patients at the hospital, just because they’re not able to get out much,” said Hathaway. “They can interact with people who normally they wouldn’t.”
The experience of producing and performing the show is on a volunteer basis, and it is also open to students of the University of St. Thomas, through the theater partnership of the two universities.
“Mostly, we’re focusing on this on-camera portion right now, but there is an opportunity for our students to work on production of the show,” said Adrian. “If we’ve got a student who is interested in film or production, they can get this really great experience behind the scenes, working with the producer there.”
Adrian said she is also looking for international students who would like to be interviewed about their home country on the show, and there is even a volunteer role in promotions and marketing.
If you are interested in volunteering with the show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.