parents-Pittsburgh, PA … Hiawatha Project, a new theatre company dedicated to creating new and original performances exploring specific social questions, is proud to announce the launch of the creative process for its second major theatrical work: Helicopter Parents Anonymous.

Helicopter Parents Anonymous will be developed through Hiawatha’s innovative two-year creative cycle which explores specific social issues through myth, movement and free association.  The group will look at parenting in the 21st century, in particular the role of so-called “helicopter parents” who hover over their children to swoop in at any sign of challenge or discomfort.  Hiawatha Project will partner with community members and organizations on the front lines of this topic, such as PTA groups, college admissions offices, coaches and teachers.

The creative team for the development process includes established Pittsburgh actors and emerging talents such as Wendy Arons, Nancy Bach, Laura Lee Brautigam, Monteze Freeman, Joanna Obuzor, Mark Staley, Ricardo Vila-Roger, and Allie Wagner.

In late July a two-week artistic workshop with professional theatre artists and community members will take place at Bricolage Production Company’s performance space downtown.   New scenes, songs, and excerpts from the work in progress will be presented as a part of Bricolage’s “In The Raw” series on September 8th 2012.  Tickets and information to follow.

Hiawatha Project has also been granted an artistic residency with The New Hazlett Theater where the new work will be further nurtured and developed.  A fully realized production of Helicopter Parents Anonymous is scheduled for early September of 2013 at the New Hazlett Theatre.

About “Helicopter Parents Anonymous”

“Helicopter Parents Anonymous” utilizes music and 12 step addiction programs to examine the evolution of parenting and childhood in the 21st century. From modern day parental crusades into preschool classrooms and twenty-something salary negotiations, to desperate mothers holding babies up for the American helicopters escaping Saigon, “Helicopter Parents Anonymous” questions the eternal hold of the umbilical cord with the need to let go in order to love more.“I have a lot of practical experience, I guess you could say, in dealing with helicopter parents,” says Martin of her 3 years organizing the annual audition tour as External Relations Coordinator for the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.  The university auditions almost 1500 students each year for a class of 60 undergraduate students. Competition is high and the pressure felt by both students and parents is intense.

Martin recalls having to ask one mother to step away from an audition room door, after she caught her holding a glass jar to the door trying to listen in on her child’s audition.   “The woman quickly apologized, saying she was a recovering helicopter parent. And I thought, well, you’ve clearly had a relapse.”

That same day, Martin relayed the experience in a phone call to Carello and both artists were intrigued and amused.  From there the idea of a 12-step help group for helicopter parents took flight.

For Carello, who does not have children, the fascination lies in what rites of passage mark our modern day transitions into adulthood.  “We’ve all seen nature shows where a young buck wins his first fight or a young lion catches her first gazelle,” remarks Carello.  “What struggles do we humans overcome?  What does being an adult mean today?  And how the heck do our parents know when to push us out of the nest?”

As a new mother who gave birth to a daughter in January of 2012, Martin sees another side of the story. “Parenting is hard.  Really, really hard.  It’s primal and instinctual, and yet so complicated in our modern times.  But mostly being a parent is about experiencing a new kind of love – a deep nurturing love coupled with grit and determination.  It’s a crazy mix of tenderness meets survival tactics.  There’s plenty of drama to draw on.”

About Hiawatha Project

Although established as an organization in 2010, Hiawatha Project’s conceptual beginnings go back to 2009 when writer/director Anya Martin and designer/producer Michelle Carello began creating the company’s first major work Camino, an epic multi-media production about the dangers of for-profit immigrant jails.In addition to extensive research, Hiawatha Project’s creative cycle involves artistic workshops between professional theatre artists and community groups connected with the issues being explored.  This uniquely inclusive creation process has already put the company on the front pages of both Pittsburgh City Paper and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The City Paper called Camino “courageous” and the Post-Gazette says “Camino was full of “imagination and poetic insight.”

Hiawatha Project co-founder and Artistic Director Anya Martin was recently a Creative Capital/Flight School fellow through Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and is currently the Center for the Arts in Society’s Artist in Residence at CMU where she teaches Directing II in the School of Drama and from where both she and co-founder and Artistic Producer, Michelle Carello are graduates. The two have worked in theater arts in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, besides extensive work in Pittsburgh.

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