According to Wikipedia, a “wigwag” is a railroad crossing signal, an automotive headlight flasher, a thingie used in some washing machines, a warning mechanism on truck braking systems and a warning light on a movie sound stage. Oh, and it was apparently an American magazine published from 1988 to 1991. Someone needs to tell the popular online encyclopedia about Burlington’s “WigWag!” which has nothing to do with warning systems and everything to do with kids on stage. Donald Wright, director of Very Merry Theatre, can’t really explain the genesis of the unusual name for the first annual festival of children’s performing arts. “We wanted to come up with something really different,” he says of the brainstorming process. “What it means to us is imagination and fun and taking a risk.”
That’s pretty much what Wright had in mind when he began cajoling pared-down Shakespeare and Dickens from the mouths of babes nearly a decade ago; his carefree summer-theater projects with his own and other people’s kids gradually coalesced into the more organized nonprofit Very Merry Theatre six years ago. And VMT has grown from a loose amalgam of friends and families into drama programs for several local elementary schools and other child-centric institutions.
Specifically this summer, Very Merry has been collaborating with the YMCA and running drama programs at the Boys & Girls Club, the Sarah Holbrook Center, the King Street Youth Center and Burlington Parks & Rec. With “WigWag!” scheduled for Friday, July 20, at Roosevelt Park, “The idea is to celebrate the diversity and talent of Burlington’s kids,” Wright explains. Attendees can expect 15-minute performances from most of these groups on the gaily painted Very Merry Wagon — the VMT gang will present Adventures of Camelot. Also on the bill are free ice cream, Kids on the Block, Magicians Without Borders and Big Blue Trunk, who, Wright surmises, does “something with balloons.”