The Child in Me: Kelsey E. Collie

By J, Vera | Black Masks, April 3, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Child in Me: Kelsey E. Collie


J, Vera, Black Masks


The Child in Me: Kelsey E. Collie

With the nation's attention on educating our youth, we, in the arts, look to innovators who have long been on that journey. Such a man is Kelsey E. Collie. "I found that children in D.C. neighborhoods had a real hunger to express themselves culturally, and to use their creative energies through theatre, dance and music," he says. "They wanted to see themselves on stage and their parents enthusiastically assisted them towards that goal by working backstage and in the community. It was felt that this experience coupled with the culminating performance provided their children with strong role models, morals, values and manners. Our interaction became so involved that we often wound up offering some unofficial counseling and coping with family difficulties."

While working on his Master's thesis in children's theatre at George Washington University (the only African American in the program), Collie created a questionnaire to get feedback on the children's wants and discovered that "they were fascinated by the villain. This character provided them with vicarious thrills by breaking boundaries -- doing what they weren't allowed to do themselves. Through his dramatic action, [the villain] could change! Such versatility attested to youth's desire to wear many faces and stimulated me to write Fiesta. It prompted me to again note that there were no Black characters targeted for children on TV in the late '60s. That was the era of Mister Rogers and Captain Kangaroo. So I had to fill that gap by organizing CLASP (Creative Language Arts Project). From 1968 to 1973, we offered six weeks of neighborhood training sessions for kids," he recalls.

Fiesta (later renamed Celebration) drew upon Collie's West Indian roots. It was produced at Howard University when Kelsey joined the faculty as Children's Theatre Coordinator in 1973. The late, dynamic Professor T.G. Cooper, Chair of the Department of Drama, supported Kelsey's development of a comprehensive curriculum for youth and produced Kojo and the Leopard. Collie notes, "With his selection of me as a director, I found myself in a position to utilize what I had learned from my grass roots experience and my advanced education." This 1973 one-act show starring college students ran to a packed house of children every day for a month. Its depiction of an African naming ceremony and of a rite of passage into manhood accompanied by chanting and dancing rituals "watered the souls of the young ones and spoke to the adults too," Collie remembers with a sparkle in his eyes and verve in his voice. "This foreshadowed the need for and popularity of these participatory ceremonies which are practiced in our community today."

Since Kelsey Collie had minored in English at Hampton Institute (with a major in Theatre), he believed that material written by Blacks deserved attention. Therefore, he staged Sketches in Black (1974), a compilation of poetry by distinguished writers, followed by Mimes and Yarns, which focused on folk and tall tales. Find Yourself a Dream (1977), written by T.G. Cooper in praise of Col. Charles Young, the third African American to attend West Point, and directed by Collie, "affected so many kids that I felt compelled to write Black Images, Black Reflections. The Bicentennial Celebration in Washington was coming up and I did not want our contributions to be omitted. Teachers were eager for Black students to know their history." This highly successful 1975 play, which has been the mold for spin-offs, evolved out of improvisations, poetry, historical facts, achievements and quotes of African Americans. The college actors who performed at the university site were later replaced by younger students in the course of the show's ten-year tour.

"With the touring success of Black Images, Black Reflections," says Collie, "I felt the need to incorporate into a company. Melvin L. Andrews, my former university student, became the manager. We toured internationally, winning awards in Ireland, Canada and the Bahamas and throughout the East Coast and Mid-West -- in universities, recreational centers, and churches.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Child in Me: Kelsey E. Collie
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.