College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff played a key supporting role for “Danny, King of the Basement,” the new play at Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT). The play takes a tough look at a little-known issue: the impact of homelessness on children. Nationally, an estimated half of those experiencing homelessness are children. Family homelessness affects 26,000 school-age children in Washington and nearly 3,000 in King County, said Professor Barry Mitzman, director of the Center for Strategic Communications in the Communication Department. In the fall 2011, Mitzman and Catherine Hinrichsen, manager of the Center’s Project on Family Homelessness, approached Seattle Children’s Theatre about staging a play that could increase public understanding of family homelessness. Mitzman, Hinrichsen, and SCT collaborated to increase support for “Danny” and raise awareness of family homelessness by presenting community forums in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
Professor Kevin Maifeld, director of the MFA in Arts Leadership, became involved when Seattle Children’s Theatre sought an interim managing director. Maifeld had been the theatre’s managing director before joining the faculty at Seattle University. He stepped in, finalized funding for the production, negotiated contracts, and got the production underway. Professor Carol Wolfe Clay, scenic designer in the Fine Arts Department, designed the production. For Clay, the design challenge was to create a 3-dimensional and real looking group of homes on stage, but at the same time leave lots of open space where Danny and his friends could imagine and the story could be told. “The play takes place, for the most part, outside, which is where Danny is most comfortable,” said Clay. “At the same time, his basement home is a very real and very big part of the play.” “We often read about the issue, but rarely is there an opportunity to really see it from a young person’s perspective,” Maifeld said. “Families never imagine that they would ever be homeless. The play tells the story with humor, compassion and hope.” “Danny, King of the Basement,” runs from October 18-November 18 at Seattle Children’s Theatre. Tickets are available at this link.
The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 42 undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 7 master’s degrees, including an MFA in Arts Leadership.
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