917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
Written by MentorArtist on December 20th, 2011
Something exciting is happening in Mill Valley! Students at Tamalpais High School are collaborating to write, direct, produce and perform their own play for the school’s Winter One Act Play Festival in January 2012.
Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs is leading this 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). This arts integration program is the first of its kind in the district, created as part of YIA’s Arts Unite Us program, which aims to bridge gaps between students of differing abilities. Michael Lovejoy and Ben Cleaveland of CTE are incredibly supportive and talented educators, so no wonder students have been such a joy to work with. Just wait until you see what Allison, Becky, Glyn, Jake, Maribel, Monica and Tevin are creating!
The goal of this integrated approach to playmaking is to create an excellent piece of theatre that is process-focused, brings students of differing abilities together, and fosters self-expression and confidence.
ELEMENTS OF THEATRE & THE WRITING PROCESS
Students first met in October. Early classes focused on the elements of theatre with an emphasis on acting and playwriting. The young theatre artists from different departments and of different abilities bonded quickly. The process of creating a theatre piece together then proceeded with intense brainstorming sessions. The young theatre artists documented their discoveries on giant pads of paper with markers to track their creative discussions. They used stickers to vote for and highlight the most important ideas. You can see some examples of their work below.
Brainstorming dramatic themes
Brainstorming play ideas
In November, the play itself emerged from all the brainstorming ideas and playwriting began in earnest – from time and place to character profiles, stage directions and dialogue. Students dived in deep to explore character development, conflict, metaphor, central dramatic theme, deus ex machina and resolution among other theatrical components of playwriting.
Students often broke off into groups of two, working as partners on detailed character development and monologues.
Playwrights collaborate at Tam High School
Tevin and Mentor Artist Melissa note a plot development
Maribel and Allison collaborate
Allison and Maribel present their ideas
Glyn and Tevin discuss a character
Playwright Monica makes an observation
Jake adds to a character profile with Monica
Once the script was completed, Her Face to the Sky (PDF) went immediately into rehearsal! Junior CTE student Glyn took on the role of Director and worked with her castmates and Melissa to block and rehearse the play in December. The script finds a group of strangers (tourists and locals) mid-span on the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset just moments before a devastating earthquake forces them to work together to get to save a particularly vulnerable young woman, Grace, and each other.
An early table read is an exciting step in the rehearsal process
Tevin rehearses a monologue with Melissa
Allison and Maribel rehearse a mother/daughter scene
Later in December, YIA Mentor Artist Donna Ozawa joined in to support the production with Stagecraft lessons for Mr. Lovejoy’s whole class. All props and set pieces are student designed and created with Donna’s guidance!
Artist Donna and Jake secure hinges on a prop phone
Jake, Becky and Tevin show off a set piece
Director Glyn & Tevin with props
MCOE Speech Language Pathologist Sophie Miles volunteered her expertise by creating an iPad application with the students recorded voices and rehearsal photos to help them learn their lines and prepare for performance.
Sophie's iPad rehearsal with Jake and Tevin
Tam High’s renowned One Act Play Festival is entirely student produced and will provide a fantastic showcase for the work of this dedicated integrated group of young theatre artists. Please join us on Thursday January 12th or 19th at 7PM, Tam High’s Caldwell Theatre, 700 Miller Avenue (near the back parking lot) Mill Valley, CA. Box office opens at 6:30PM and advance tickets are available online as well.
A CTE poster for the event
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.
Posted in: Artists In Schools,VSA arts,YIA Programs
Tags: community, inspiration, Melissa Briggs, tam high, theatre, VSA arts
This is amazing work Melissa and Donna, I hope to be there!
Posted on: December 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Leave a reply
Really cool, Melissa and Donna! Thanks for your great work. Jake is so excited.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Leave a reply
Exciting work Melissa, Donna and Sophie.
A big congrats too, to Jake, Allison, Becky, Glyn, Maribel, Monica and Tevin!
Posted on: January 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Leave a reply
Thanks Mr. Nudd! Jake is so much fun to work with. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious and his contributions to the process have been impressive.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Leave a reply
Melissa Briggs is brilliant! I have worked with her for years at Stanford, and continue to be amazed by her innovations in education and theatre. We need more programs like this in our schools. I hope to see an expansion of her work throughout the system. Congratulations, Melissa!
Posted on: January 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Leave a reply
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