The Reeder School
In 1945, Dickson and Flora Blanc Reeder founded Reeder School, a theatre arts school for children from four to fourteen years of age. Its purpose was "…to use the theatre, with its related arts of painting, design and dancing, as an educational force which provides a means of furthering the child’s capacity for rational, cooperative and creative effort… and gives him an opportunity for artistic release and means of self-expression." Reeder School operated from 1945 through 1958, and enjoyed a revival from 1980 through 1986.
The Reeder School program was modeled after the King-Coit School of Acting and Design in New York City. Each summer the Reeders chose one play to perform the following spring. Beginning in the fall, the children read the play and then studied art, music, dance, literature, and history related to it, immersing themselves in the culture of the time. The Reeders and other instructors helped the students interpret the story through painting, pantomime and dance. This in-depth study made it possible for the students to successfully perform complex works such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the classical Hindu story Nala and Damayanti, the Persian tale Kai Khosru, and the medieval romance Aucassin and Nicolete.