Mary Lane's stage is setInstead of using blackboards and...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

March 13, 1994|By Kara Kenna

Mary Lane's stage is set

Instead of using blackboards and textbooks to teach kids about values, elementary education student Mary Lane employs interactive theater and morality plays.

"The theater is an excellent vehicle for education and for instruction because kids can watch a show and not even realize they learned something," says Ms. Lane, a 21-year-old Loyola College junior. "Meanwhile, they leave with a lesson about greed or about sharing."

Ms. Lane is the founder of Storybook Players, a student-run group at Loyola that will allow her to test her theories by presenting children's plays with a lesson in mind.

Established last fall, the group will debut with Brad Gromelski's "The Invention," an audience-interaction play for children between the ages of 5 and 8. The play, set at a toy factory, revolves around an evil toy spy who attempts to destroy a mysterious invention. The children participate in the play when they're called on stage by the actors to construct the invention.

The play teaches children about good and evil, says Ms. Lane. Her biggest challenge is to captivate and entertain the youngsters for an hour.

"Children are the most exacting audience I know, because if they don't like something, you'll know it."

The Storybook Players will perform at Loyola College March 18 at 10:30 a.m. and March 19 at 2 p.m. All schoolchildren are invited. Admission is $3 and proceeds will benefit a local children's charity. A free performance for area agencies that work with underprivileged children will be held March 19 at 11 a.m. To reserve tickets, contact Ms. Lane at (410) 617-4214. At age 7, Baltimorean Bryan Rowe was composing tributes to the girl next door.

Today, at 32, Mr. Rowe is ever the composer and the romantic. His self-produced album of improvised piano solos, "Songs of the Soul," released last spring, includes a song called "Love Reborn" that was inspired by his current girlfriend.

The album cover, with its provocative chiaroscuro portrait of Mr. Rowe, has itself attracted its share of amorous musings. But those who see it as a seductive marketing ploy miss the point, he says. His music is about more than love. It has a spiritual quality, he says. It's "music as prayer, . . . music that has to be intensively listened to."

Mr. Rowe's album has been played for terminally ill cancer patients and for warm-up exercises in high school drama classes, he says. The album gets play on WTMD-FM (89.7), and sells out routinely at An Die Musik in Towson.

A low-key Renaissance man, Mr. Rowe also is choir director and organist at the Cathedral Church of the Incarnation and a math teacher and soccer coach at Atholton High School in Columbia. In addition, he's completing his master's degree in the School of Continuing Studies' gifted education program at Johns Hopkins University. In 1991 and 1992, Mr. Rowe spent his summers in Hong Kong, teaching advanced math to gifted Chinese students.

Still, he finds time to spend Friday afternoons with his grandmother, who lives in South Baltimore. Together, they shop at Cross Street Market and then go for a bowl of soup.

Yes, he's ambitious, Mr. Rowe says. "Not that life is defined by achievements. I want to use my gifts to affect people."

Stephanie Shapiro

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