This past weekend May 17 & 18 Arts Unite Us premiered an original production which combined educator Ben Cleaveland’s advanced theatre students and students from educator Michael Lovejoy’s Special Day Classroom. Students engaged in a collaborative theatre program, written, created, designed and performed by the youth under the leadership of Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs. The packed performances received standing ovations and praise from all involved.
Tam High student creators Victor, Glyn, Julia, Jake, Cate, James, Maribel have some words to share with you about their experience writing, directing, producing and performing as an integrated ensemble of young artists from Conservatory Theatre Ensemble and Marin County Office of Education!
“We took two of the most atypical programs in the county, and mashed them together, and it was extraordinary.”
At the beginning, “I was a little afraid of making new friends. I wasn’t sure we would get a long but by week two I felt so welcomed into the process.”
“It went perfectly! I wasn’t nervous. For this one I wasn’t nervous coming into the process knowing whatever happened would happen and it will be great. Something different will happen and you have to react accordingly.”
“It was more about the process more than the product. That is something I’ve learned to value the most.”
My feeling in performance “its good!” I felt “happy”. But “the writing part. I like it cause the writing part was hard, the best.”
“I liked the acting part cause I like to dress up.”
“It was a different experience. I felt really accomplished afterwards.”
One student was scared to go on stage for his cue with the packed audience. He finally worked up the courage and exited the stage whoop!ing it up! He said afterwards “I felt great! And happy! And I did my line!” He was also quick to praise his classmate’s funny delivery of his lines.
Another student praised her castmate too, “Maribel inspired me. I know she was always there for me on stage and as a writer.”
“I want to keep doing my lines!”
One of the co-directors had an interesting insight; before seeing the play some Tam High peers seemed to plan on “seeing it as if it was a kids show. It was like they didn’t really want to see or really think about it. I don’t know what to do to change that.” You want to know what to do to change that? You are doing it!
Other people would say our collaboration is going to be “so cute or sweet.” When people talked about the play preparation in a patronizing way “I got angry and stopped talking. It was discouraging.” Another said “you just have to see us working in rehearsal to know our work is just as hard, just as good!” But “The people who saw it and really thought about it, they loved it. They felt something. One guy said he had a horrible day and our play made him happy! They saw we worked so hard for so long together. We made people think and feel something! And I think that’s like the whole point of theatre.”
Feedback on campus was super positive all around. “A lot of people say they heard it was good even if they didn’t see it. People were really talking about it, like, everywhere. Everyone said it was really entertaining to watch.” The audience “liked the ensemble aspect of it. How we were there for each other.”
“Everyone was so generous with themselves. Everyone put their peers before themselves but still worked hard on their work, their part of the pie. I think the world could use a little more of that. We put so much of ourselves and risked so much and the audience got to see that.”
“I know what we should do for our next play…”
Well… this project may be over, but high school students of all abilities from across the Bay Area are invited to apply for admission to a groundbreaking new integrated Dramatic Art Project (iDAP). This two-week intensive will be led by a professional artist and will culminate in a live multi-media performance. This is the beginning of the Youth in Arts Performance Company.
Your world isn’t typical.
Your art shouldn’t be either.
Exceptional young people with diverse experiences and abilities collaborate to produce an original piece of dramatic art. Explore elements of playmaking and filmmaking in this exclusive intensive at Youth in Arts in San Rafael this summer. Create an impactful live performance using forms of theatre and digital filmmaking.
Mentor Artist Melissa Jones Briggs will guide a small ensemble of students as they explore their collective authentic dramatic voice. Young artists will also work with professional guest artists to create, design, produce and perform an original piece of dramatic art. The Project meets at Youth in Arts Studio in San Rafael July 22nd – August 2nd, M-F, 10AM-3PM.
Many voices, one story: come share yours!
Apply @ youthinarts.org/idap