022: Composer and improviser Julie Kaplan sparks kids’ imaginations

Julie Kaplan has written music inspired by pollinators, icebergs, and astronauts! She teaches improvisational games to kids and writes super singable songs just for them. Julie is cool! In this episode, you’ll hear her discuss her entree into music, improvisation, and a new ensemble, the Curious Theatre Collective.

Julie Kaplan, music composer and actor, has written music for dance, theater, and video, and her music has been performed throughout the US, in the Czech Republic, and in Nepal. She is a co-founder and performer with the Curious Theatre Collective, she performs in the Transactors Improv Company, and teaches improv to elementary school kids in Chapel Hill.

In addition to talking about Julie’s background as a composer and improviser, we discuss our experience working together with the Curious Theatre Collective and the play that we and the other members of CTC have written and performed for elementary schools in the Triangle. The title of the play is Sally’s Ride: To Space and Beyond!  It has singing and audience participation, and describes Sally Ride’s life as the first female American astronaut, as well as the past, present, and future of space exploration, and the contributions of women to the space program.

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio.

Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and Julie’s bio.

[1:14] Julie’s introduction to music as a child, what inspired her, and her decision to pursue composition in college. The jolt of entering an collegiate environment after having been a self-taught composer who preferred Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

[6:05] Julie’s definition of herself now as a composer and what influences her. Deep listening. Examples of Julie’s original work.

[8:57] Julie’s jump into improvisation and the Transactors Improv Company.

[10:38] The skills of improv and the skills of composition — is there a link between them? Do they influence one another? What does it take to do the improvised musical shows of the Transactors? (It’s sooo hard!)

[13:19] Julie’s approach to composing music and the inspiration that she draws from science and nature. For example, she’s written compositions about pollination and icebergs!

[15:35] Curious Theatre Collective: Why did this new venture appeal to Julie, and why did she jump on board?

[17:15] What is it like to write music for children’s theatre vs. music for adults? Julie’s daily practice of composing songs at home for her children for the last 8 years, and their favorite pieces. For them, “creating is a normal part of being.”

[21:33] Finishing the songs for Sally’s Ride: To Space and Beyond, with CTC member, Emma Nadeau

[22:47] Writing the Sally Ride script in a collaborative style with the rest of the CTC members over the last year.

[25:22] What has it been like to perform Sally’s Ride: To Space and Beyond in front of hundred’s of actual children in elementary schools?

[27:14] Julie’s work with kids and improv via Transactors and her after school classes. Why is it important to Julie to work with kids and what do they learn? What’s an improv exercise the kids really seem to respond to? How does she talk to kids about the concepts behind the exercises?

[32:55] Observations that Julie has made about entrepreneurship and the arts. Approaching your art as if it’s your job.

[38:17] Julie’s mindset for balancing all the ‘stuff and stress of life’ and treating it all as an adventure.

[41:19] What’s next for Julie Kaplan?

[42:32] Thanks and sign-off

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Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Jesus Pancake, Declaration of Love, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

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Jesus Pancake

Jesus Pancake is the newest scripted audio fiction series from Artist Soapbox. Nine episodes of zany dark comedy.

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The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.

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Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.

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Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”

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ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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