EXCERPTS FROM THE ARTICLE
Below are excerpts from the May 12, 2018 The Retriver article by Julia Arbutus on TNT: Theatre Night for Teens.
It is Theatre Night for Teens at Everyman Theatre, and the second floor lobby area has been transformed into an educational wonderland. Students grades 9-12 gather just outside the elevator, speaking in different languages with one another and hesitant to move into the space even as Brianna McCoy, Director of Education at Everyman, ushers them in.
Tonight, Everyman is hosting students from Patterson High School and Digital Harbor High School, who are also participants in out-of-school programming provided by the Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project.
Everyman Theatre education and community engagement representatives visited these schools twice this semester, introducing theatre to young adults, many of whom have never experienced it before.
They use a combination of icebreakers and theatre games to engage with the students and to get them to talk about themselves – basic subjects, like where they are from or what it is like to be a teen in Baltimore.
Everyman specifically connected with RYP because “The Book of Joseph” is centered around one man’s experience as a refugee. Based on the true story of Richard Hollander, who discovered a box of World War II-era letters stamped with swastikas in his attic from his father, the play focuses on the “courage to face difficult stories,” explains [Brian] Francoise [Director of Community Engagement at Everyman]. “It closely parallels with the immigrant experience in Baltimore.”
As the students eat their dinner and wait for the event to begin, it is difficult to see them as anything other than young people. They break out into cliques, tease each other and flirt. Their youthful wonder is evident, and they are incredibly eager to explore the space, which hosts a plethora of pre-show activities.
Their youthful wonder is evident, and they are incredibly eager to explore the space, which hosts a plethora of pre-show activities.
Set and costume design displays are pinned up on the wall, showcasing designs from “The Book of Joseph.” A mini photo booth is set up with a box of props and costumes, and once the students find themselves more comfortable in the space, they try everything. One girl tries to zip a friend into a dress, but it seems like it does not quite fit.
Soon, enough, however, it is time to meet Caite Hevner, projection designer, and then see the show. The students listen with rapt attention, some of them dissolving into giggles or whispers as the Q&A commences. McCoy makes sure to allow everyone to introduce themselves before beginning the talk – no one is allowed to feel unimportant.
Hevner discusses her role in the production, pulling up pictures of her previous work to further explain what she does. “When I’m approached with a project, I think ‘If no one hired me to work on this show, what would be missing?’” she says. “And then I add that in.”
“I’ve never seen a play before,” says Marita*, before she shyly enters the theatre to grab her seat. She is a student at Digital Harbor and RYP participant, and her statement echoes among her peers. She settles into her seat, and the lights come up to reveal a new world.
*Name has been changed