The Play’s The Thing!
HOW I T WORKS
This program taps into a part of New York City
cultural life—namely, live theatre. The students
learn how to do work for the theatre, research
and study plays that are currently on the boards,
attend live performances, and reflect on their
experiences. The base of the program is built on the
relationships between the school and the resources
of other public institutions in the community.
Together, both sectors are enriched by the
participation of the teenagers through their
class-work and extracurricular activities.
English Language Arts standards are addressed through cooperative
projects, such as creating scenes for the stage. The historical
background of the classical plays connects to
Social Studies. School-to-career subjects are
explored while the students interview
professional theatre artists. Technological competencies
are addressed by recording the program with a
digital camera, and via web-based research and
electronic publication. Art and music are also
incorporated in the preparation of theatre pieces.
An overview of the program would not be complete without mentioning
that by cooperating with the education department of the
Roundabout Theatre, some of these students,
who would not otherwise have the immediate
opportunity to attend a live Broadway
performance, do so. One of the objectives is to
develop theatre appreciation from an early
age so the seed is sown for a lifetime of theatre-going
We are in our second season. In the first year,
approximately 25 students participated in the
program. This year we are happy to be joined by
17 new ESL students. The theatre performances
will greatly enliven the language experience of
our ESL students. It is expected that the totality
of the theatre experience with its music, lighting,
décor, acting, and so on, will add elements to
English Language Arts appreciation for these
children. It will also enrich their knowledge of
American culture. In total, our second-year number will be
about 35 students. The level of achievement
varies. Last year about 50% of the students
who registered in the class participated fully,
taking an active role in the class work, theatre
performances, web writing activities, etc. The
other 50% acted in parts of the program. The
students’ technical skills vary too. Some are
very adept and others have little experience.
All participants this year have at least one
computer skills class that meets as a regular
classroom and computer lab. Our school is a
total-inclusion school, so our classes range
from learning-disabled to honors students.
Julie Vitulano has been teaching for eleven years.
This is the second year she been faculty advisor
to this program. The material developed for this
class has been shared at several staff
development workshops she has participated in.
WHAT YOU NEED
Lessons on writing for the theatre, tickets to
performances, a computer lab with Internet
access (ideally with one computer for each
student), a tape recorder, digital camera, and a
TV with VCR are all needed to proceed with
this project. Ideally, the students’ performances
will be taped digitally and put on a web site.
Through this program students enhance their
verbal and writing skills, and develop an
appreciation for the theatre and a possible career
skill. They also become more familiar with the
various uses of technology, and produce a
creative work while simultaneously improving their