Students contribute to Second Saturday Community Market

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Students contribute to Second Saturday Community Market

Rachel Wang, Contributing Photographer

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STORY AND PHOTOS BY RACHEL WANG

“Thinking about the pros and cons of living in a place, the Market House to me is one of the best parts living in Meadville,” said Michael Mehler, associate professor of communication arts department at Allegheny College.

Located right in the middle of downtown Meadville, the Market House is a historical building selling local products including food and locally made products. It hosts the Second Saturday Community Market every month from May to September on the second Saturday, where the community gathers to enjoy fresh local food, art crafts and live music. And for the first time on Sept. 13, students of Allegheny College played a big role in the Second Saturday Community Market with an improv show by the Playshop Theatre and Student Experimental Theatre.

As the production manager for the Playshop Theatre in Allegheny College, Mehler lead the effort in creating a sustainable theatrical production that fits in the theme and the space of Second Saturday Community Market.

“In September, we always try to do a show that is something new that has never been on stage before, and this one is especially looking at ways of creating a stage that is not typically scenery,” said Mehler.

 Katherine McGerr, visiting assistant professor of communication arts department at Allegheny College, and Mark Consdon, right, associate professor of communication arts department, watch challenger David Dawson, left, preparing food during cooking competition at the Second Saturday Market.


Katherine McGerr, visiting assistant professor of communication arts department at Allegheny College, and Mark Consdon, right, associate professor of communication arts department, watch challenger David Dawson, left, preparing food during cooking competition at the Second Saturday Market.

 

This idea has been developing in his mind ever since he started looking at ways of doing theatre more sustainably, such as changing ways of using materials that are less impactful on the environment and more efficient, and looking at new ways of approaching lighting.

Mehler was on a conference panel two and a half years ago, meeting with artist Tanja Beer, who grew a stage set out of food bearing plants in Melbourne, Australia. She was then brought to Allegheny’s campus a year and a half ago to a stage alongside the Environmental Science Department.

Talking about where the plants on the stage came from, Mehler said that he has been thinking about making positive environmental and social impacts.  Therefore, in April he started working with the Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA downtown and started a project of planting seedlings in simple ways that would get kids excited about growing food. Combining art and food, he gave the each of the kids a little cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper, shoveled a little dirt in there, seeded, and painted the tubes with organic paints that are soy or milk based.

He later brought this project to the Second Saturday Market with portable planting boxes. While families were shopping for food or looking at the artwork, the kids came up and do seedlings and decorations.

Before Mehler was able to do a project at the Second Saturday Community Market, he had been working with the program for several years. Last summer, he volunteered and helped organize the market where he tried to get to know the community better.

“It has been really eye-opening and satisfying,” said Mehler. “I would be lying to say that it felt like work in the moment, but on reflection it is a lot of work.”

Students from the Playshop Theatre and SET are excited about getting downtown and performing to a different kind of audience. The improv group performed a food based farm story that was appropriate for children, and the unique stage made the rural setting even more vivid.

Luke Davis, ’17, didn’t have any outdoor improv performance experience before the event. He really enjoyed working at the outdoor space on this untraditional, garden-themed stage at the Market House.

“The ideals of improv very much go with the natural environment and stage, because the improv is the natural reaction of the performers to the audience”, Davis said. “The ‘Market Growth’ project is really successful bringing people from the college down into the broader community that supports and invests the college.”

Following the show was a cooking competition between Pete Zimmer, the chief of Voodoo Brewery, and the challenger David Dowson, a local who once worked in a local restaurant. They prepared food with materials they got from the market on that day, and had kids help them out to make dishes.

“I really enjoy cooking a lot, and I am always looking for opportunities to cook for others. I want to focus on food that would be easy to assemble, flavorful and colorful, fun to eat and to look at,” said Dawson, after the cooking competition.

 

Members of improvisation group from the Playshop Theatre and Student Experimental Theatre of Allegheny College, from left, Chris Schuchert, ’16, Luke Davis, ’16, Sean Gannon, ’16, and Annie Utterback, ’16, perform on the garden-themed stage decorated by children, on the Second Saturday Community Market at the Meadville Market House on Sept. 13, 2014.

Members of improvisation group from the Playshop Theatre and Student Experimental Theatre of Allegheny College, from left, Chris Schuchert, ’16, Luke Davis, ’16, Sean Gannon, ’16, and Annie Utterback, ’16, perform on the garden-themed stage decorated by children, on the Second Saturday Community Market at the Meadville Market House on Sept. 13, 2014.

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