A New Educational Program
In November 2005 Square One began the second year of a new educational program that was developed to replace the students coming to the theatre to see the first play of each season. Students had come in the morning for over 10 years and for many it was their first experience with live theatre. The new administration in the Stratford schools felt that the time could be used for other educational pursuits. We were saddened to see this happen, but we felt some sort of theatre experience should be offered. Last year we met with teachers from the two Stratford high schools and administrators and presented an idea which would bring plays into the schools. This would enrich their curriculum and at the same time give these students a chance to experience live theatre but in a more intimate setting. We worked together through out the year adapting and creating and at the end of this program we all agreed it wasn’t the same as coming to the theatre, but it worked well.
The plays are performed in the schools’ libraries, with multiple performances given throughout the day. This setting gives them a sense of involvement and an emotional connection to the actors and play. A period of discussion about the plays, the value of what they have seen and how it relates to what they are studying follows the performance. They then write essays on aspects of the play which we get to read. The management has been impressed with their insight and reviews.
The theatre currently performs two plays for students each season. They include the Pulitzer Prize winner, “Driving Miss Daisy” about the relationship between a southern white widow and her African-American manservant during the Civil Rights movement. “Irena’s Vow”, the true story about a young woman who hid Jewish friends during WW II, was a huge hit for the theatre in 2011 and has now been adapted for student audiences. Both plays have a historic content which is discussed with the students before and after the performance.
People’s United Bank has continued generously funding these student theatre experiences. The Carstensen Foundation is now also supporting this program.
FRIENDS OF EDUCATION AWARD GIVEN IN 2005
The Stratford Board of Education awarded the Square One Theatre Company their Friends of Education Award for its continuing commitment to bring live theatre to the town’s high school students.