October 9, 2012
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
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.
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
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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