In-Person Theatre Program:
Our program operates in weekly, semester-long classes that alternate between already established musicals and custom-made musicals where students perform their favorite songs and scenes. Each class starts with an opener that functions not only to break the ice for the week but also to engage each student in a form of self-expression that furthers our mission as an organization. For example, students may be asked to share things they’re grateful for, their dreams and aspirations, how they’ve overcome a challenge in their life, or what they do to cheer themselves up when they’re feeling down. Openers are designed to open our students to share their emotional lives in a safe place that offers support, encouragement, and celebration of who they are. Alternatively, openers might consist of fun, interactive games or theatre exercises to get students loose and excited about the world of theatre.
After the opener, Jonathan directs the class. He determines which song or part of the script needs practice, and places students and teachers together to practice those sections. He will also work directly with the actresses/actors when all teachers and students have a function.
Finally, we finish with a closer that either celebrates one or a few students who did exceptionally well or introduces some theme that involves virtue education. Occasionally students will take these last few minutes to share some artwork with the group, or make an important announcement about what is going on in their lives. We end with putting all our hands in and one or two students leading the cheer. It goes: “GOOOOO DREAMCATCHERS!!!” which closes on a positive and high-energy note. We say goodbye and stick around if anyone needs to talk to us for any reason, logistical or emotional.
They learn an enormous set of skills in this program, ranging from social skills and how to work as a team, to leading the group and celebrating the success of others. They are highly encouraging of each other’s self-expression, so many friendships and relationships are formed from this group. Importantly, nearly every student experiences a self-confidence boost that is noticeable in a few sessions.
Impact: Our Theatre Program was our first, and it’s where our roots lie. It occupies a special place in our hearts because we’ve seen it affect so many students’ lives positively. We have seen students go from being wallflowers who were terrified to speak in front of the group, to singing loudly and proudly, to freely expressing their love of the group and new friends, totally unprompted. We have seen lifelong friendships form, romantic relationships blossom, and self-confidence soar. We have seen students take on character roles confidently and convincingly, singing beautifully to hundreds of audience members. Encouragement and compliments flow freely between students and staff, in a way that boosts the self-confidence and priceless feeling of community for all involved. This program has the power to showcase the students’ talents and passions to family and friends who might have never even heard the performers speak before, as well as to anyone with internet access!