Monday, August 12, 2013

High-Stakes 2.0: Letting Kids Run the Show

Kate Quarfordt


High-Stakes 2.0: Letting Kids Run the Show

Posted: 08/12/2013 8:56 am

"Oh my god, you're the playwright? It's soooo amazing to meet you!"
Brian -- my former theater student and star of the production of Les Miserábles I co-directed with students last year in the South Bronx -- fights through the crowd in the lobby of Atlantic Stage 2 in Manhattan. He's still sweating from his opening night performance ofCircuits, one of two student-written one-acts currently in production by National Theater for Student Artists.
As Brian lunges forward to hug the young playwright of Circuits, she shouts, "You were fantastic!" and they launch into a volley of overlapping compliments. The lobby around them is a jumble of whooping, high-fives and gravity-defying hugs. Audience members vie to congratulate exuberant swarms of student directors, designers, stage managers and actors -- the oldest recent college grads, the youngest fresh out of eighth grade. From across the lobby, I catch NTSA founder and executive director Victoria Chatfield's eye and wink. Judging by the jubilant reaction of this opening night crowd, her high-stakes gamble is paying off big-time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of "In the Heights" with Lin-Manuel Miranda

Huge gratitude to Lin-Manuel Miranda for paying it forward in the BX and props to my boys Alejandro, Anthony and Fabian at The Digital Project for helping us tell the story.
Still carrying these kids in my heart: Thanks for this, @katequarfordt. What a gift!

Click to Play Video of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Amazing Visit to Bronx Prep

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nerding it Up with "In the Heights" Writer and Star Lin-Manuel Miranda

Back before we even kicked off auditions for "In the Heights" at Bronx Prep, I wrote this article about taking students to see the original Broadway cast in a reunion concert, and how excited we were to be putting on a show that spoke so directly to students' lives. An hour or two after the post went live, I got a message from the show's Tony-award-winning creator, writer and star--the kids' (and my) idol: Lin-Manuel Miranda. He thanked me for the article, which he said gave him a "thoroughly Mr. Holland's Opus-esque ugly cry," and offered to come visit us in the Bronx. (Of course I read his message in the middle of rehearsal and got teary-eyed in front of 50 students. Thanks, Lin.)

In his message he shared that when he directed "West Side Story" as a high school senior, a well-connected parent was able to arrange for Stephen Sondheim to come talk with his theater group. That conversation, he said, changed the course of his life and inspired him to want to pay it forward with my students.

How did we feel about this? To steal a phrase from his Facebook post: Grateful Grateful Grateful Grateful Grateful Grateful. GREAT. FULL.

Lin-Manuel's visit to Bronx Prep was hilarious, thought-provoking, energizing, raw and inspiring... Definitely a day that made us all super proud to embrace our inner theater geeks.

Check out the pictures below and watch a little video snippet HERE.

Lin-Manuel holds forth about the creative process... and staying true to your inner nerd
Lin and Tosh freestyle

What rhymes with "Piragua"?

Big Pun lyrics blow Lin's mind

Q & A

Hanging on every word

The cast performs Club Scene

Cracking up...

"Look at the fireworks..."




Heartfelt thank-you...

Hugs for the leading man

A small token of our appreciation...

A scrapbook of production photos and cast reflections

A few last words of wisdom

A moment we'll never forget

Photo credit: Alejandro Duran