Shakespeare for Youth in Nature
This grant will fund our 2024 School Days Field Trip program, a multi-modal arts education experience in Topanga that has been serving LA students for 50 years. It includes workshops for students, a comprehensive study guide, an interactive Living History, and talk-back with cast and crew, in addition to a high-quality professional performance of curriculum-backed Shakespeare, Classical, and new American plays presented at Theatricum's beautiful 299-seat outdoor amphitheater, and featuring diverse, inclusive casts and teaching artists.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
While the works of Shakespeare are required reading across multiple grade levels, the reasons why we study Shakespeare and what worth his plays offer to youth today are often neglected. Additionally, the experience of reading Shakespeare on the page is often alienating and unwelcoming, especially for BIPOC and queer children. What value does this old dead white guy offer them? At Theatricum, we address this through inclusive casting and immersive theatre. Students don't just see a play- they become a part of it. First and foremost, the goal is inclusion. We show students: you belong here, both in the audience and on the stage. This method of expression - theatre, Shakespeare, performance - is for you. A direct quote from a teacher attending a 2023 performance: "The cast was diverse AND super talented. I loved that any audience member could look on stage and see themselves up there and become more inspired by the performances because they had a deeper, more meaningful connection."
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
School Days attendees are diverse K-12 students from every school environment who travel to the theater to take part in workshops and a live performance a full Shakespeare, Classical, or New American play in Theatricum's outdoor amphitheater in Topanga Canyon. 6,619 students and chaperones from 115 schools attended the 24 SD performances in 2019 (23% ES; 51% MS; 34% HS; and 2% Home). Participants include public, private, charter, parochial, magnet, home, continuation, and special needs students from virtually every ethnic, socio-economic and religious background. We partner with every possible resource to bring schools to the theater, expending needs based tuition and bus scholarship funds. We offer flexible programming that can serve virtually every school budget, schedule, population, or venue, addressing accessibility due to geography or economic condition, and disability. Each arts education lesson is presented with access points for all learners including kinesthetic, aural, visual and oral activities. The longest running program of its kind in the region, School Days is offered for 4-6 weeks each spring and 2-3 weeks each fall. With consistency, Theatricum brings students to the highest level of arts education in a breath-takingly beautiful outdoor environment . In our 50th anniversary year, this grant will set us up for the next 50 years of LEARNing and PLAYing with the youth of LA.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
We inspire a love of performing arts in the next generation. We want all who attend, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and differently abled students, to leave inspired to create. We've worked towards this by casting BIPOC actors in positions of power, and including more explicitly queer relationships. For example, Hermia and Lysander were both women in last year's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Peter Quince was changed to Petra Quince and used they/them pronouns. We know this program is life changing for students - there are people performing on our stage every season who first encountered Shakespeare taking this field trip as young people. With particular attention to Title 1 schools, offering scholarships and/or transportation support when needed, we will expand our reach and diversity, so that instead of Shakespeare feeling intimidating to students, his works and performing them inspires the next generation of artists, leaders, and changemakers.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Theatricum's School Programs conduct qualitative assessment through surveys provided both in person and via email to all participating schools, gathering feedback from teachers, administrators, students, parents and other relevant parties. Feedback from these surveys is compiled annually by the Program Manager and distributed to organization leadership with recommendations for changes in logistics, artistic content, staff and/or curriculum as needed. In addition, staff make regular quantitative assessments of number of students and schools being served, as well as number and breadth of programming comparing this data to a three-year history. This data is reported monthly to staff and quarterly to the Board and, if necessary, recommendations on adjustments in programming, outreach and/or marketing are made. Teacher training takes place yearly, taking into account feedback, advances in pedagogical strategies, and improving curriculums based on reported feedback and teacher's experiences.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 8,000