Lied Center's Grumble Project seeks to end childhood hunger

· 3 min read

Lied Center’s Grumble Project seeks to end childhood hunger

Trailer to "Puddin' and the Grumble."

The Lied Center for Performing Arts, in partnership with the Lincoln Community Foundation, has announced The Grumble Project, a community-wide campaign aimed at building awareness and finding a long-term, sustainable solution to end childhood hunger in the greater Lincoln area.

Central to The Grumble Project, the Lied Center has commissioned Lincoln playwright Becky Boesen to develop a new production, “Puddin’ and the Grumble,” a musical about family, love and survival in the face of adversity. The play is scheduled for a public premiere in spring 2016 and will feature the compositions of Nebraska composer David von Kampen, with additional music provided by other American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) composers.

“The Grumble Project was conceived shortly after the Lincoln Vital Signs report was released,” said Bill Stephan, executive director of the Lied Center. “While the report revealed a long list of accomplishments and positive data, we were surprised to learn that a staggering number of Lincoln children aren’t getting enough to eat. The Grumble Project will utilize the performing arts to examine issues surrounding hunger and food insecurity and will capitalize on the many strengths of the Lincoln community with the goal of achieving prosperity for all.”

Members of the Clinton Creative Club, a weekly after-school club comprised of Clinton Elementary Community Learning Center students, are providing inspiration and lyrics for “Puddin’ and the Grumble.” For the past several months, Boesen and Petra Wahlqvist, education and community engagement director for the Lied Center, have been meeting with the students. During each session, Boesen and Wahlqvist facilitate journaling and work one-on-one with the students to further develop their writing. Through a burgeoning relationship with ASCAP, which began in 2013 with Nebraska’s first ASCAP New Musical Theater Workshop, the Lied Center has partnered with ASCAP writers who will furnish original compositions to accompany some of the student-inspired lyrics.

“The Clinton Creative Club is giving us an inside glimpse into what it’s like to be a fifth grader. Their contributions are vital to the project and they’ll be our partners in creation, every step of the way,” said Boesen.

“Puddin’ and the Grumble” centers on a 10-year-old girl with big dreams and a big problem — she has to move in with her grandmother, a quirky former lounge singer who isn’t expecting a new roommate. Puddin’ misses her mom, is struggling with fifth-grade math, and is starting to feel as empty as her own tummy. To top it off, she’s being followed by an annoying and obnoxious creature, the Grumble. He’s loud, he’s rude, he’s often crude, and he won’t let go of Puddin’. “Puddin’ and the Grumble” is a story for families, as it focuses on positive ways to overcome life’s challenges.

Beyond the stage, the Lied Center and Lincoln Community Foundation are exploring further opportunities for outreach and collaboration surrounding the issue of hunger. The Food Bank of Lincoln and UNL’s Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts are already collaborators. Project organizers are also seeking local industry experts to participate in panel discussions and lead post-show discussions.

Actress Sayyidah Ali, who played Puddin' in a "Puddin' and the Grumble" trailer shot Jan. 12 at The Eatery in Lincoln.
Courtesy image
Actress Sayyidah Ali, who played Puddin' in a "Puddin' and the Grumble" trailer shot Jan. 12 at The Eatery in Lincoln.

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