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Bagley Art in the Park: Young actors to perform generational dialogues

In the longest-running musical of all time, "The Fantasticks," the fathers of two young people ask themselves how kids can hear with "beans in their ears?"

Of course, the fathers are asking themselves the question: "How can I talk with my child in a way that he or she will listen?"

James V. Gambone, an acknowledged expert in intergenerational dialogue, arrived in Bagley, in April of this year, to coach facilitators from five towns in the art of "dialogue." The town of Bagley played host to representatives from Bagley, Fertile, Park Rapids, Warren and Warroad.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 9, at Bagley City Park, Art in the Park will welcome a truck full of young actors trained by the CLIMB Theater, who will perform during throughout the day. Audiences of parents and children will gather to see and hear short (15 minute) plays on: "The Generation Gap," "Family Time" and "Manners."

One of the facilitators, Nancy Brown Colligan of Bagley was approached by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in Bemidji to become a member of a group that would be trained by Gambone. Brown-Colligan was chosen because of her background in teaching high school students Spanish, speech and drama. In retirement, Brown-Colligan continues to work with high school students as a judge of speech and one-act plays throughout the United States. Gambone was brought to Bemidji after the Red Lake shootings to show his film, "The Healing Walk" to try and bring some sense of closure about an incident that so hurt Bemidji's neighbors.

Gambone and his training in family studies speaks to the issue of bringing together the different generations, which he has named: Civil or G.I. 1931-and before; Mediating or Adaptive 1932-1944; Boomer 1945-63; Diversity or Gen X 1964-81; Millennial 1982-2001 and the present - Digital.

"I believe that every generation has something new and different to contribute," said Gambone during a recent phone interview. "I am intentional about bringing all generations together."

To that end, Brown-Colligan used her training with Gambone to meet with residents of Bagley to determine what issues they would like addressed in their intergenerational dealings.

"It's rather difficult to pin down because so many of the issues are intangible, that which cannot be easily defined," she said. "But, I did meet with people and helped them pick out topics they would like to see addressed by another part of the initiative, the CLIMB Theatre out of the Twin-cities."

"CLIMB," an acronym for Creative Learning Ideas for the Mind and Body, is an organization devoted to character education and social-emotional training of young adults. The organization addresses serious issues like acceptance of differences, social skills, self-control and cyberbullying prevention using theater and audience participation. For more information, see their website at CLIMB Theatre is a 2010-11 recipient of an Arts Access grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

"Personally, I am very excited to have been part of this venture in our area since the beginning," said Brown-Colligan. "With the issues facing our young people today, intergenerational dialogues are crucial."


If You Go:

Bagley's 24th Annual Art in the Park will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 9, at Bagley City Park.

Artists, vendors and entertainment will be on hand throughout the day with local non-profits providing food.

The event is sponsored by the Bagley Chamber of Commerce, the City of Bagley and the Bagley Rotary Club. For details, go to Facebook at Bagley Art in the Park.