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Integration Inspiration: Performance!

We recently filled you in on the playmaking process over at Tamalpais High School.  Students collaborated to write, direct, design, produce and perform their own play for the school’s Winter One Act Play Festival.  The show’s run at the Caldwell Theatre was a huge success!  Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs led a joint effort between students from Mr. Lovejoy’s Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) Special Ed class and the school’s excellent Conservatory Theatre Ensemble (CTE).  YIA Mentor Artist Donna Ozawa worked with a group of Mr. Lovejoy’s students to create all of the props and stagecraft used in the play.  This replicable arts integration program was designed to bridge gaps between students of differing abilities.

We’re going to let the students toot their own horn here and tell you about their success!

Students acknowledge their cheering (standing!) audience

“I was so happy at the end.  We crafted that play out of nothing.  I’m just so proud of everything we’ve done.  Not just the performance, the whole process.  So many people have come up to me… the audience was shocked.  I mean, we got a standing ovation!”  – Glyn

Students rehearse the blocking for a lift at the end of the play

“I feel proud… I know what to do!”  -Jake

Students perform the lift onstage in "Her Face to the Sky"

“It was really good [to be onstage.] The lift was hard.  I felt kinda nervous, and proud.  Proud of myself.” -Maribel

Performing together onstage at Tamalpais High School

“It’s not about just me.  I have to pay attention and observe.  I have to work together as a group.” – Monica

Waiting to greet family & friends in the Theatre lobby

“My whole family was so impressed with what we did.  It was special because of the collaboration.” -Allison

Students celebrate with friends, family & teachers

“I have to say, I felt famous!” -Tevin

Among the reasons Tevin felt famous was an article in their local paper about their work.  He also may have been responding to an enhanced profile on this sprawling campus.  Over the weeks of rehearsal and performance more and more of their student peers, unrelated to the project, reached out to them.  Stopping Tevin in the hall to ask when the show was, dropping by Mr. Lovejoy’s class on the way to lunch to say hi to Jake, or asking Maribel how rehearsal were going.  And campus feedback following the performance only fueled further integration and dialogue.  Monica’s response to congratulations from her peers on the performance was to remind them of their playmaking process:

“I always tell people,‘Thanks, we WROTE it!’ and they are just like:  ‘HOW?!’  It’s such a hard thing to do but we wrote a great play!”

A board in the Theatre lobby depicts the playmaking process

Feedback from students, teachers, administrators, and department/ district heads was glowing.  We hope to be able to expand this opportunity for collaboration in communities throughout the Bay Area.  Theatre integrates our inherent creativity and need to connect with the continued development of communication and life skills. It bridges seemingly vast gaps in our abilities and income levels – helping students see the we in a world full of me.  Plus, its “crazy fun”!  Reactions, like Glyn’s below, to the rigorous curriculum, rehearsals and high artistic standards of this arts integration project epitomize our goal:

“It was so rewarding at the end.  I was so happy and proud of everyone!”

So were we.

Youth in Arts is dedicated to serving youth of all abilities with high quality arts programming.  We created the Arts Unite Us program with seed funds from the Special Hope Foundation, and this project at Tam High has been supported by grants from the Green Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation. We are grateful for their generous support.  For more information on how you can support this type of programming, visit our support page, or visit our store at 917  C St. in downtown San Rafael.

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