It starts so simply: A balloon drifts through the window of a lonely old man’s home. And then something seriously silly happens – then something kooky, wonderful, and so blissfully fun that you barely notice you’ve learned something about friendship and the power of play along the way. “BALLOONACY,” a play by Barry Kornhauser, assistant director of Campus & Community Engagement at Millersville University, recently won a Fringe Ovation award at South Africa’s National Arts Festival. The production of the play by the National Children’s Theatre of South Africa received the award on July 1 in Makhanda, South Africa.
“As a non-verbal play, it can be enjoyed by deaf audiences and those with language barriers,” says Kornhauser.
Throughout the festival, Standard Bank Ovation Awards are given to productions on the Fringe programs that are noticeable for being a cut above, well received by audiences, and that leave a lasting impression. Ovation Awards are awarded by a panel of anonymous reviewers who see every show on the Fringe and meet daily to discuss the awarding of winners.
“To be selected for inclusion in the festival is itself an honor for which I’m very grateful, and to be recognized there with the award broadens the possibility of further productions by theatre companies elsewhere in the world, while already leading to an extended run by the National Children’s Theatre to reach more children in South Africa, including those in orphanages and other transitional living situations,” says Kornhauser.
Because of the success of “BALLOONACY,” Kornhauser has been asked to send in more of his works by the National Children’s Theatre. “BALLOONACY” had already won an American Alliance for Theatre & Education “Distinguished Play” award and has been produced across the USA and in locales as diverse as Albania, Australia, and Singapore.
In addition, Kornhauser just completed running two arts programs, the Arts Smarts camp and the M-Uth Theater program at the Ware Center.
The Arts Smarts camps instruct kids in grades K-5 in music, theatre, and visual arts. Of the 308 camp enrollments, 130 were via scholarships that serve kids of mixed abilities and all backgrounds. The scholarships were made possible by the continued support of Rick and Jessy Rodgers who have done so for several years.
M-Uth Theater program serves teens who face various life challenges. This summer’s ensemble included three youths who are homeless, one from juvenile probation, another with a pacemaker, and eight living with cognitive and sensory disabilities, including three deaf teenagers.
Kornhauser is also currently preparing another of his TYA plays for publication later this month by the publisher Plays for New Audiences, a work called “Recipe for Disaster” that was co-commissioned and premiered by the La Jolla Playhouse and Childsplay Theater.