Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Bonnie Fogel of Imagination Stage

Meet Bonnie Fogel, founder and executive director of Imagination Stage. Located in Bethesda, Maryland, Imagination Stage is a multi-disciplinary theater arts organization for young people and their families. With its motto promising "Serious Fun," Imagination Stage offers two main components: celebrated theater productions for young audiences, such as P. Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical, which feature professional actors; and a nationally acclaimed performing arts education program for kids ranging in age from one to 18, which seamlessly integrates children who have disabilities.

Production photo from Imagination Stage’s Aladdin’s Luck. Pictured l-r: Katie deBuys, Christopher Wilson, and Michael Glenn. Photo by Scott Suchman

Between its theatrical productions and its educational programs, Imagination Stage opens its doors to about 100,000 children and family members each year. The company is the brainchild of Fogel, who remembers her own engagement with the arts as a schoolchild in England. When she moved to the U.S. with her own children, she was thrilled with the excellent academic education they were receiving, but dismayed at the lack of emphasis on the arts. When the school's talent show was canceled in 1979, Fogel jumped right in. She and a friend produced it, finding roles for all the children who wanted to be involved---some 300 out of 360 children enrolled. It was so successful that she began an after-school performing arts program, which took off as well. By the early 1990s, she and the other staff members decided that the organization should try its hand at professional theater for children. She found a storefront in a local mall and turned it into a successful theater...and the rest, as they say, is history. Imagination Stage has since moved on to a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Bethesda, which houses two theaters, eight studio/classrooms, a café, and a gift shop. In this excerpt from the podcast, Fogel shares why she thinks this success is the result of Imagination Stage simply doing what it does best...daring to take chances. [00:43]

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