I created 2 participatory arts companies for children (Lola's Lab and Left Noodle Right Noodle). LNRN allowed children to explore cultural diplomacy through the personalization of art, movement, and drama. Adding to this, Lola's Lab, in particular, was akin to a LARP (Live Action Role Play) adventure in learning with live story characters, plot twists, and maker labs that gamified participation inside an original story experience.
founder, programatic and theatrical writer, artistic/creative director, illustrator, costume and product designer
LOLA'S LAB was an edutainment production company where I integrated my writing, production, and design work. From 2010 to 2018, I wrote, produced, and directed over 40 original immersive audience adventures paired with a project-based curriculum in complex monthly pop-up environments. The content was rewritten and re-produced for consecutive years. I eventually licensed some of the content to other theater organizations in 2018. The business served thousands of families and gave me a platform to exercise a wide array of creative and management skills while working with extraordinary visual and performing artists. As the writer and illustrator of the content, it allowed me an audience to create an imaginative brand with a large catalog of original material and products. I continue to turn the plays into new formats of interactivity today.
Lola’s Lab was a pioneer in its use of a highly visual style (seen in the pictures above) and story-based immersive experiential learning. The days were driven by a process of conjuring collective imagination among participants akin to LARP (Live Action Role Play.) I wrote scripts to activate a linear unfolding of information because I felt that ordering the associative learning would be even stickier than the associative learning I had employed in LNRN, a prior educational company I co-founded.
I directed the areas' best teaching artists to activate the content. Live characters interacted with students throughout the day. This primed students with a personal relationship to the story and created a mysterious atmosphere of surprise. I employed cliffhangers and gamification in the writing to enroll and motivate the students to invest themselves in the story adventures and to collaborate on solving problems that the characters were having in real-time. These ideas were prototypes in the breakout sessions which included maker labs and taught principals of design thinking. Story adventure camps were 1-5 days long. Children were deeply invested in the story and their missions together. The training during our programs impacted the children at home, helping them build creative confidence, and collaborative skills.
The full impact was an experience, unlike anything on the out-of-school market, traditional education, museum-style learning, or family entertainment. In truth, it was a merge of ideas that activated personal expression and learning in as many ways possible so that all participants had a “way in” that would resonate with them. It was a natural extension of my experience being a multidisciplinary artist, performer/director, writer, and theatrical and costume designer.
I created a pipeline of over 40 productions, with repeatable, evergreen content that was always able to be personalized. Lola’s Lab was a land of many stories, each story was a play with its own product family of scripts, unique characters, curriculum, and story-based merchandise. We also performed short interactive productions at the National Children's Museum and other venues. By the end of year 4, I was developing interactive storybooks for sale. And by year 6, I began to format the live program for licensing by outside organizations. The program was presented by Encore Children's Theater in 2018 and a request for more in 2019.
During this time I was experimenting with video production and adapting our program for e-learning and the design of the website for a subscriber-based community with podcasts, video modules, achievement levels, and participant interface technology strategies.
In 2019, despite the request for more, I ended live productions in year 7 to focus on the reinvention of the story content for web-based platforms and took a long look at how the next steps of growth could not continue under my own direction without a larger production company to carry out what I could visualize. We had come to the end of an era in many respects but the dawn of a new one professionally where I knew I was best served to work on innovative storytelling in environments with sizable production budgets for incorporating new ideas and technology.
Left Noodle - Right Noodle
founder, creative director, interpretive content writer,
I cofounded LNRN in 2006 to teach the arts from a perspective of appealing to both sides of the brain. I developed methods of teaching art, drama and movement content that would personalize the student outcomes, thereby engaging the students much more.
I wrote hundreds of lessons, including a signature series called Global Arts Odyssey, a cultural arts and diplomacy program which focused on 90 countries to elementary aged children. The program of schools grew very quickly from 5 to over 40 classes a week in the Washington, DC metro area, serving more than 800 kids a week. The success of the signature program program spawned summer camps and programs for preschoolers. In addition to creating the content, I designed and illustrated the teaching aids, brand identity, website design and registration technology. I ran this company until 2010 when the recession presented a shift in the market, and I invented Lola's Lab (above).