BirminghamJuly 10, 2012
How one local production company is positively impacting children
By Elizabeth Scussel and Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writers
BIRMINGHAM — When Tiffany Victoria Sims was a sophomore at Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, she was what some people might describe as shy. Though she loved the performing arts, she never thought about stepping into the spotlight herself.
“I was the girl who was too shy to get up on stage. I used to usher at Shrine’s performances, and I used to make my mom buy tickets to come watch me usher.”
It was Sims’ mother who eventually convinced her to try her hand at acting by auditioning for a school production, and once she earned her first role, she was hooked. She said she was bitten by the theater bug, and soon turned from a timid youth into an outgoing performer.
It was that life-changing experience that made Sims fall in love with performing arts, and made her want to share it with others. Nearly 10 years ago, she founded Project DayDream, a Birmingham-based organization dedicated to providing young people in metro Detroit with education in music, acting and entertainment.
“It was really on a whim,” Sims said. “I always knew I didn’t want to go the traditional route of education, and I had my own ideas about arts education, so I thought I would try this. It has really been a dream.”
Since its inception in 2002, Sims said, the group has impacted the lives of more than 1,000 children.
“We’re at a point where a lot of the kids are moving on to college, and I love getting letters (from them). Even if they’re not pursuing the arts, I love hearing about the sense of responsibility we’ve given them,” she said. “I’m not preparing them for Broadway. I’m preparing them for life. I want to give them skills to make this world a little bit of a better place.”
Twelve-year-old Southfield resident Scotti Peterson has spent five summers performing with Project DayDream.
“You get to meet new people, and it’s a good learning experience. It prepares you for other roles, like high school productions, but you get to be more outgoing than you would normally,” she said. “They teach you to be responsible with learning your roles, and you’re being prepped every day to go to rehearsal, and you make new friends.”
Scotti’s mother, Staci Peterson, discovered Project DayDream through an advertisement at school.
“Scotti was in second grade and had been doing dance and piano lessons. She was interested (in Project DayDream), auditioned, and has loved it ever since.”
Staci said the impact on her daughter has been positive because of the confidence she has gained.
“Everything they do as an organization teaches them so many things — not just music and dance — but team building and collaboration. They develop wonderful friendships, a lot of outreach, and I think that’s also a really powerful thing for the kids to be exposed to.”
“We always say we’re great for the weird, for those who consider themselves a little quirky. What I find special is that kids who are left out of the loop find a home in theater,” said Sims.
She also said that theater provides a safe escape for students, and some of the shyest people are the most talented.
“They feel safe in this environment, to do what’s in their heart. Instead of being intimidated by it, they actually embrace it.”
Project DayDream’s production of “Willie Wonka” will be held inside the Wagner Auditorium at Birmingham Seaholm High School, located at 2436 W. Lincoln in Birmingham. Tickets are $13.
Show times are 7 p.m. July 19 and July 20. For more information on Project DayDream or to purchase tickets, visit www.project daydreaminc.blogspot.com.
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