We are pleased to announce AT&T is supporting our Staging Success initiative. The $200,000 contribution from AT&T enables Theatre Forward to measure and evaluate the aggregate results of the educational work with at-risk youth at four of its theatres. This work includes student workshops, curriculum integration, and performance attendance, all of which help increase engagement and participation in school and theatre.

“Programs like Theatre Forward’s Staging Success program provide young people with the opportunity to unleash their creativity,” said Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York. “Not only do they have fun, but kids are exposed to critical experiences and skills that lay the groundwork for the jobs of the future.”

Almost all students who participate in our Staging Success program are Title 1 students who benefit from exposure to the 21st century skills theatre education provides. The Staging Success study will span a two-year time period, tracking participation, school engagement and students’ beliefs and attitudes over time.

Bruce E. Whitacre, Executive Director said, “Theatre Forward is honored to have the support of AT&T to help demonstrate the impact of  theatre education on at risk high school students’ engagement in school. Staging Success brings greater rigor to the process of defining and documenting outcomes of theatre education initiatives, and helps to fulfill our vision to increase access and opportunity for all. Theatre builds community and sets the stage for individual achievement. The work of our member theatres is a testament to the unique collaborative approach which drives Theatre Forward.  We are looking forward to working on this project with all our partners, and to help advance theatre education around the country with these findings.”

The participating education programs include:

ACTsmart Intensive Residency at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA serves a high percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged youth who have not experienced success in traditional schools; many are at risk of dropping out of school. In this residency, the theatre is playing a critical role in shaping every aspect of students’ lives to help them stay in school and succeed.  An example of their programing includes exploring the link between theatre and the social issues most relevant to the students. Students come together to discuss fiction, plays, and articles on current events, to identify and research common themes which they tie in with their English language arts and social studies curriculum, in addition to writing personal monologues and collaborating together on short plays and a culminating performance.

Project Discovery at Dallas Theater Center is a catalyst for young people to explore their place in the world. This yearlong afterschool program brings together diverse teens through on-your-feet activities and curriculum-related content for every production at the theatre during the school year. As they experience plays among an adult audience, participating students learn to be engaged arts patrons, with the self-assurance to discuss ideas with peers and adults alike. Project Discovery is filling gaps in a system which leaves very little room for efforts to improve the lives of students by providing communication, collaboration and creative avenues that excite these young adults about learning and staying in school.  One teacher remarked following a workshop, “The kids loved working with another school. They love the interactions and working with strangers in a positive environment is crucial to becoming a productive adult.”

Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Dramatic Learning™ interconnects analytical and creative thinking, directing students to the pathway of higher-order thinking. Theatre-based learning drives students to be, do, and/or show their comprehension of an idea, task, or skill. Ensemble work, individual exploration, and the bolstering of both social and emotional skills in tandem with addressing core curriculum in collaboration with the classroom instructor are weaved throughout every Dramatic Learning activity and exercise.

Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Art Education Workshops with the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County will provide high school students at the Southwest Club with the opportunity to explore and build basic theatre skills.  As part of the Rep’s Public Works Seattle project, this programming will go beyond just skill-building, and will also focus on community-building with the aim of fostering broader connections in the region. The Club will work with the theatre all year long because their activities align with goals of promoting academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.  The August Wilson Monologue Competition will inspire high school students to explore the work of the premier African-American playwright August Wilson and express themselves through the voice of characters from his plays, which depict the African-American experience over the course of the 20th century. This program reflects a piece of the Rep’s artistic heritage, as Wilson lived in Seattle for the last fifteen years of his life and Seattle Rep was privileged to be one of his artistic homes until he passed away in 2005. Through this interactive, participatory program, students will learn theatre skills that, in turn, inform and advance 21st-century skills known to be valuable indicators of educational success and civic and social participation.

About Theatre Forward

Based in New York City, Theatre Forward’s mission is to advance the American theatre and its communities. We achieve our mission by providing funding and other resources to the country’s leading nonprofit theatres. Theatre Forward aims to increase access and opportunity for all to experience theatre that builds community and sets the stage for individual achievement. Our focus is on “Educating Through Theatre” and “Advancing Strong Theatre.” Theatre Forward’s “Educating Through Theatre” supports educational access and opportunities throughout our network of 19 theatres at every grade level and beyond. We support the development of 21st century workforce skills, social emotional learning competencies and individual cultural/global competencies, and measurement and assessment design for programs with an emphasis on underserved and underrepresented youth and adults. “Advancing Strong Theatre” supports theatre productions advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) goals for a targeted underserved and under-represented community that complement each theatre’s trajectory of organizational change.

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T

AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $250 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017.