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May 20, 2011

Breakin’ Curfew: An Insiders Experience

By Katherine Ford and Meghna Rao

When you go to the Power Center to see a UMS-produced performance, you don’t usually expect to see a high schooler’s name under the titles of “Photographer,” “Backdrop Artist,” “Curator,” or “Producer.” These type of opportunities are rare for teens, and it’s what makes Breakin’ Curfew such a unique event. From deciding the lineup to creating marketing materials to producing the show, a team of Ann Arbor teenagers create this showcase of the best teen talent in Michigan.

An example of the curators’ hard work from start to finish: Someday Came Suddenly, a pop punk band from the Dexter-Chelsea area. The curators had heard of the group through one of the band members, who helped book shows at the B-Side, Neutral Zone’s concert venue. After seeing them perform, we added them to our list of over forty prospective acts. Eventually, the time came to narrow down our selections to the groups that would actually be in Breakin’ Curfew, and after much discussion amongst the curators, it was clear that Someday Came Suddenly stood out amongst the many groups we were considering. In December, when we all sat down to create the lineup, we had to decide where in the program Someday Came Suddenly should appear: first act or second act? Mid-stage or full-stage? Should they go on after a poet or before an Indian dance group? We challenged ourselves to think from both an artistic and a production standpoint. When we wrote up contracts, artist release forms, and a tech rider for the show, both the band and the curators got a look at the finer details of putting on a UMS production.

Because the theme for this year’s show was Michigan pride, we wanted to show our audience what it’s like to be a teen in the Michigan hometowns of some of our performers. Someone suggested the idea of creating a video to project behind one of the acts while they performed, and Someday Came Suddenly seemed like a perfect candidate. One Saturday morning, a few of the curators made their way out to Dexter to get video footage of the band hanging out in and around their hometown. We filmed them skateboarding in their backyards, grabbing a bite at the A&W, and skipping stones at Pickerel Lake, catching a glimpse into their everyday lives as teenagers in Dexter.

Finally, it was May 14th. After a run-through of the entire show, it was almost time for Breakin’ Curfew itself. The band had sound checked, met with stylists, and gotten to know the UMS staff, backstage crew, and their fellow performers from around the state. At 8pm, when we saw the curtain go up, there was a sense of anticipation and excitement – Breakin’ Curfew suddenly felt real, and we were about to see the results of our countless meetings, planning, and discussions. A few acts into the show, the stage manager called Someday Came Suddenly to the stage. The video we had edited together weeks before began: the opening shot was of the band members skateboarding towards the camera. Then Someday Came Suddenly began to play. From the moment their set began, the energy in the audience was electric. Seeing the crowd enjoy this band – and all the others – made our months of hard work completely worth it. Working on a production of this caliber is not something that teens ordinarily get to do, and we consider ourselves lucky to have been a part of it.

Photos by Megan Sims and Katherine Ford.


Katherine Ford and Meghna Rao are both seniors at Greenhills High School. They were this years head curators for Breakin' Curfew.