A Day at the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club

On Saturday January 16th, the Company One Apprentices ventured into the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club and hosted an eye-catching, political and socially innovative event that focused on the groundbreaking news that covered the year 2015.

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The foundation of the event was the play AN OCTOROON by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, which will be Company One’s 2nd play of its 17th season. The play has many themes such as racism, love triangles, money, melodrama, and slavery. The characters that the Apprentices connected with most were two slaves: Minnie, an optimistic straightforward and fearsome dreamer, and Dido, her more reserved emotional and overly cautious best friend. The event was centered on the contemporary issues people are facing and how it is related to the social issues of the 1850s that Minnie and Dido lived in.

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Our participants were young members of the Boys and Girls Club, who ranged between the ages of 10 to 16. The event began with introductions from the Apprentices, Company One staff members from the Education and Dramaturgy departments, and the youth attendants.

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We then projected onto the wall a video of the last scene from the play featuring Minnie and Dido, followed by a witty commentary reaction clip featuring the Apprentices. This was then followed by another reaction video from Minnie and Dido, which prompted the youth members to creatively reflect on the year 2015. Each person was given a list of notable topics from 2015 to discuss – this list, which the Apprentices put together, included #NetflixandChill, Donald Trump, ISIS, Bill Cosby, Planned Parenthood, #BlackLivesMatter, and more.

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The discussion was very productive, encouraging, and the youth members had many valid points about the many topics. They each had to pick a topic and comment on that topic through any creative medium they chose. This could include a skit, rap, scene, poem, short story, letter, drawing, design, collage, etc. on how they felt about the topic.

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Youth members chose to design shirts, write poems and short stories, and create a graphic design on the computer. They were incredibly expressive, articulate and passionate about the topics they chose. Their work was innovative and all were impressed by the creativity in the room. Everyone came together to share out what they did and were supportive while their peers were expressing themselves. The act of reflecting on what has happened is a skill everyone, regardless of age or gender, has the capability to do. It was a dynamic and creatively rich event that the Apprentices will never forget!

 

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Building Theatrical, Student-Driven Responses to National Events: Part 1

Milord with Stage One Students at USA

In February 2015 a group of students at West Roxbury’s Urban Science Academy (USA) presented a showcase of student-written scenes depicting significant moments in the lives of prominent figures from the American Civil Rights Movement. This kind of production might not be unusual for an American urban high school in February, typically celebrated as Black History Month by schools, institutions, and communities across the country. What is notable about the students’ work at USA is their path to processing, creating, and writing about these events amidst the growing momentum of political and social justice movements, like #BlackLivesMatter, in response to unchecked police brutality and institutionalized racism. Many of the protests and demonstrations that occurred around the world in response to the events in Ferguson and Staten Island were lead by student groups who demanded change from the adult leaders in their community. The presentation at Urban Science Academy illustrates a positive application of theatre arts in a school environment, created by students to address the issues that impact their community.

Urban Science AcademyTheatre students at USA participate in Company One Theatre’s Stage One: In-School program (S1: In-School), which brings theatre education residences to the Boston Public Schools in order to foster young performers’ personal growth and theatrical development. In the 2014 Fall Semester, S1: In-School was coordinating residencies with over 300 elementary, middle, and high school students in six public schools. USA—a high school of roughly 470 students—was founded in 2005 with a focus on science and technology and was designed to prepare students to excel in college and their careers.

James Milord, one of S1: In-School’s Teaching Artists, had instructed theatre through S1: In-SChool at the USA during the previous 2013-2014 school year, so his knowledge of the school community and academic culture was stronger than that of a first-year teaching artist or guest instructor. The Fall 2014 theatre class was relatively small, with just eight regularly attending students, and was fairly representative of the school’s overall racial and ethnic makeup—over 90% of students identify as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Multi-Racial, or Native American.

Milord’s lessons plans for the first quarter at USA were structured around the curriculum goals adopted by all In-School Teaching Artists, which introduces theatre to students as a means towards liberated artistic expression, self-confidence, and cultural awareness. For Milord, the first few weeks of working with a new group are essential for establishing the classroom as a setting for meaningful ensemble work and allowing students to build a strong rapport based on trust and creative self-expression. After introducing the foundations of improvisation, character development, and scene creation, the first quarter for Milord’s students ended in November with a showcase of scenes and monologues, based on personal experiences and narratives. Sharing their work with the school—the first time performing for many of S1: In-School students—proved to be a unifying and positive experience for the entire group.

Former Apprentice Receives Theatre Guild Award

A former Company One Production Apprentice, a Josiah Quincy School senior student, and my close friend, Kemal Beyaztas, has recently received the Theatre Guild Award from The Massachusetts High School Drama Festival this past Saturday. I would like to congratulate him on this accomplishment and let him know that he really is a great actor and director. He took on three roles for this particular event. I must say, I have seen him act and this guy is no joke. I’m proud of you Kemal! After receiving this award, he posts: “The Massachusetts High School Drama Festival awarded me with the Theater Guild Award! I am very honored and truly humble to receive this and I’m very grateful to the cast and crew of The Passengers for all their hard work, dedication, and commitment towards theater! Also congrats to all the other schools that competed in this tournament!”

– Brieana Valdez, Company One Theatre Production Apprentice

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C1 wraps up the school year at Boston Adult Technical Academy

This year Company One Theatre Teaching Artists taught over 100 English as a Second Language students at Boston Adult Technical Academy. Through theatre rich curriculum based on script analysis, playwriting, vocal and physical acting techniques, every student was able not only to improve their public speaking and reading skills, but also write their own original play. Check out an example of original work written by an ESL 1 student at BATA as well as photos from their final performance:

Just a Dream: an original piece by Fabio Reis

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Families Connect with ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS

Company One Theatre in collaboration with the Boston Center for the Arts, hosted an ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS themed workshop for Boston kids and their families. During the workshop, kids used Astro Boy as inspiration to create their own superhero and superpowers. Through drawing, movement, and lots of creativity, they brought these superheroes to life. Check it out:

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For more information about Company One Theatre and tickets for ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS, visit www.companyone.org

Natsu Onoda Power hosts an Astro Boy workshop with our BYF Apprentices

Lauded for its technical and artistic genius, ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS serves up live animation, interactive video, and a 1960s dream of the future. Astro Boy – a crime-fighting, sweet-faced robot – and his creator, Osamu Tezuka – the real-life Father of Manga and “Walt Disney of Japan” – explore the intersections of science, art, and family. Director and Playwright Natsu Onoda Power’s high-octane, convention-breaking ASTRO BOY was called “one of the Top 3 Best Theater Experiences in 2012” by The Washington Post.

Natsu recently hosted a drawing/movement workshop with our BYF Production Apprentices! Check out their work:

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