Thursday, December 20, 2012

Students Direct One Act Festival at Our New Home!

We leapt into the 2012-2013 school year with an ambitious project: A One Act Play Festival performed by middle school kids and directed, designed and produced entirely by high school students. The festival kicked off our partnership with Open Hydrant, the amazing new resident theater company at beloved Bronx cultural hub, The Point. Founded by my colleagues Rosie and Lou (of Shakesepeare High fame), Open Hydrant counts Bronx Prep theater alumni among its company members and has welcomed our current students into an exciting collaboration, inaugurated by the One Act Festival.

With student leadership development as our main goal for the One Acts, we took our cues from author/marketing and creativity guru Seth Godin, who laments that we spend almost no time in school (or in life) teaching people how to grapple with questions for which there are no answers, noting that it's much easier to teach kids to follow directions than to teach them how to critique them--or even better--to create them. 

As our nation’s schools struggle to emerge from the stifling, test-driven climate of No Child Left Behind, we’re using arts education to re-envision school as a place where learning to follow directions is merely a means to the larger and more meaningful goal of learning to create new and better ones. The One Act Festival was an opportunity for our student leaders to practice taking responsibility for a creative project from beginning to end, not by simply following directions, but by creating a big-picture vision from scratch, then breaking it down to its component steps and guiding others to collaboratively bring it to life. Students received adult mentoring and support, but ultimately shouldered the creative and logistical burdens of the project on their own.

You can read their reflections about the process on their blog.

The cast of "Superheroes" rehearse for the One Act Festival

Cast and Student Directors of the One Acts Celebrate Their First Rehearsal at "The Point"