The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:
Anchor Standard 1: What happens when theatre artists use their imaginations and/or learned theatre skills etc.
By focusing on creative exploration and inquiry, we continue to discover the incredible potential of students to create fully realized, socially relevant, and challenging new work. The results from 2017/18 Theater Lab show that students both in classroom and after school settings can be held to high standards of excellence in writing and performance that are recognized as invaluable in our community. Together, they created and performed six brand new plays and dozens of short pieces based on their personal lines of inquiry. The plays were attended by over a thousand audience members.
At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:
“I participated in the last theater lab session and I know that it really helped me improve as an actor. I understand the elements of a story better, and I have learned a lot about how to really make a character come to life, whether I am writing that character or acting it.”
“I really love the collaboration process, as I love how people would add something to what I wrote on the (Google) Doc or how we talk in groups about what is best for the story. Everybody has equal input on the story, and it’s the collaboration of everyone’s ideas that makes Theater Lab fun.”
“Through doing Theater Lab I have realized that I want to act as a career.”
“The interactions and experiences I had during Theater Lab made me more passionate about writing, performance, and sharing my creative endeavors with an audience. I enjoy writing because I am able to create a world from scratch that has never existed before, and I enjoy performing so that an audience can sit back and watch that world unfold.”
“Theater Lab has taught me that trying something new and having it fail is okay. Even though the end result may not be absolutely perfect, I’ve still had fun and learned a few things along the way. The Theater Lab experience is so unique and valuable, putting the trust in the students and giving them a vessel for their art to be shared with the world.”
The fact that nearly nine hundred students had a chance to work with professional artists and find the confidence and skill to make something of their own is remarkable. Sharing their work with more than a thousand audience members is wonderful. But the most powerful impact of the process is listening to the students talk about their work. In each public talkback students spoke about their process with clarity, specificity and passion. It’s very common for students to talk about Theater Lab as a life-changing program. And there is plenty of evidence to back it up. Many Theater Lab students have begun producing their own productions based on the Theater Lab model. Others have graduated to go on to college to become playwrights, screenwriters, actors and designers. And nearly all of them have become avid theater-goers.
Theater Lab is playing a valuable part in the expanding arts community by providing access, opportunity and skills training to students throughout the Treasure Valley (and beyond.) The growth of the program speaks to the demand of excellent, standards-based learning opportunities for youth.
With help from the ICA, the program continues to thrive and grow. The success of the 17/18 season has allowed us to increase our offerings for the following fiscal year and to add support staff to handle the growth. We look forward to continue being a safe place for students to explore, learn, take artistic risks and to find their individual voices.