Listed as they are experienced by Project participants
Beginning level acting classes designed to introduce new kids to the Project and to empower returning kids as junior role models. Creative Play 1 includes theatre games, voice and diction exercises and the beginning elements of improv. The purpose of Creative Play 1 is to inspire kids to use their imaginations, trust their instincts, and experience being seen, heard and taken seriously.
Intermediate level acting classes designed to prepare Project participants for the One-on-One program. Creative Play 2 includes advanced theatre games, voice and diction exercises, comedia, mask work and intermediate improvisation techniques. Parents and friends are invited to an open workshop on the last day of class.
The purpose of Creative Play 2 is to challenge the kids to show up for themselves, go deeper into the work, show respect, and have the experience of working toward a goal.
The One-on-One Program has a profound impact on the Project’s new and old participants. At the end of two courses of creative dramatics, eighteen children are paired with eighteen adult writer-performers. Each adult interviews his/her young partner then writes a short one-act, taking the child’s talents, capabilities and interests into consideration. In July and August, nine adult/child teams spend a week at Oak Grove School in Ojai, California, rehearsing their plays, eating, swimming, going on adventures and rehearsing some more. When the week is over, the company returns to Los Angeles to perform the plays, free of charge, at a professional theatre.
The purpose of the One-on-Ones is to open the hearts and minds of its participants while teaching them the values of discipline, hard work, compassion. support and respect. During their years with us, children can participate in the One-on-Ones three times then, if they show maturity and awareness, they can return to Ojai as Junior Counselors assuming shared responsibility for the young people who are going away for the first time.
The Playwriting Program is divided into three components: Playmaking, Replay and Playback. Classes are held at the Santa Monica Police Activities League and are open to all graduates of the One-on-One program. The Playwriting Program is designed to offer its participants opportunities to express a personal vision and experience validation from their peers and community. Each workshop includes direct, one-on-one collaborations with professional theatre artists, a weekend retreat out of town to work on the plays and a full production in a professional theatre in Los Angeles.
Stage One: A ten-week writing session begins with a series of exercises designed to teach beginning writers the basic tenets of playwriting as well as how to tap into their imaginations and feelings in order to write a play. At the end of the process, each kid is paired with an adult director and two professional actors. The young writer interviews his/her actors then goes away on a weekend retreat in the country with his/her director to write a one-act for the actors he/she just interviewed. The director serves as a mentor, guiding the young person through the writing process. When the plays go into rehearsal, each child attends as the playwright and, on the evening of the performances, sits at a small desk on-stage watching professional actors performing his/her play.
The purpose of Playmaking is to help beginning writers discover what is unique about their thoughts, feelings and self-expression. As they gain confidence in their voices they begin to value their uniqueness and, in the process, improve their writing, spelling and communication skills.
Stage Two: A ten-week workshop in playwriting that takes its participants, all graduates of Playmaking, deeper into the writing process and introduces them to the art of re-writing. At the end of the workshop, each child has written a play that is then read by professional actors during a day away in the country. After each play is read, each child receives feedback from adult artists as well as peers. After a short break, the young playwrights reconvene for a five-session Re-Write Workshop. The resulting one-acts are again produced, directed and performed by professional adult artists with the writer sitting at a desk on-stage.
The purpose of Replay is to give its participants more sophisticated tools for self-expression in addition to developing the skills to handle complex ideas, feedback, and change.
Stage Three: This program is for graduates of Playmaking, Replay, and the One-on-Ones. It is designed to give its participants the greatest level of responsibility for their success. Each young person is paired with an adult writer/performer, only this time the child writes a short play and the adult writes an "answer play" then adult and child perform their plays together. During a weekend in the country, the collaborators decide how their plays will relate. For example, a play may have the same plot but be told from different points of view or it may be two separate episodes in the lives of the characters. Playback is designed for older children who have participated in the One-on-Ones three times and with whom the Project has a long-standing relationship.
The purpose of Playback, in addition to advancing writing, communication, and critical skills, is to teach collaboration. The mentor/child relationship begins to transform into an equal partnership.
An advanced acting workshop for graduates of the One-on-Ones, Playmaking, Replay, and Playback that turns the stage over to the kids, two at a time, while their adult partners remain in the wings. After interviewing both kids, an adult writer writes a short one-act for the children he/she has been paired with. When the plays go into rehearsal an adult director guides both young people through the staging process. This is the first time the kids are on-stage without an adult presence. It is up to them to speak clearly, hold their own and help each other out if something should go awry.
The Two-on-Twos celebrate each child's accomplishments during his/her years with the Project while challenging all of them to use everything they've learned effectively. In addition to honoring their independence and maturity, the Two-on-Twos teach its participants the values inherent in trust, support, and self reliance.
Utilized throughout a child's experience with the Project depending on need
A creative tutoring program that pairs an adult with a child for the school year to help with homework and participate in creative exercises that culminate in the publication of The Buzz magazine. The purpose of Smart Partners is to make learning fun again for children who are struggling in school and to give them the skills to think with curiosity and confidence about what they don't understand and critically about what they do.
A beginning level playwriting workshop using Playmaking as its basis but focusing on sound and sound design. The plays are staged readings performed in a theatre that is set up to resemble a radio studio with professional actors at microphones and with the young writer and director working alongside them at the Sound Effects Table. The purpose of RadioPlay is to broaden the awareness of beginning playwrights - to learn how sound can enhance and advance a story line. RadioPlay attunes their ears to hearing the world differently as they experience making thunder from wiggling a sheet of metal or creating a gunshot by snapping the clip on a clip board.
A beginning level poetry workshop that encourages participants to play with language, think outside the box, trust their first impulse and perform their work with confidence and clarity. Wordplay can be combined with PhotoPlay. The purpose of Wordplay is to enhance self-expression and social awareness and to give its participants a fresh look at the world around them. Wordplay can be performed in a theatre, art gallery or museum.
Intermediate poetry that exposes participants to the history and techniques involved in writing hip hop poetry. The purpose of SpeakUp! is to challenge Wordplay poets to go deeper into self expression, broaden their social awareness, share their thoughts and feelings with confidence and continue playing with language, making up words and embracing metaphor. Speak Up! can be combined with African drumming and dance and performed in a theatre, art gallery or museum.
Beginning level photography teaching children to think visually. It is often combined with Wordplay - each child creates his/her own magazine that reflects their verbal and visual observations - internal and external. The magazines and photographs are put on display when the children perform their poetry in a theatre, art gallery or museum. The purpose of PhotoPlay is to get kids to think visually as well as verbally - to inspire curiosity and give them techniques to explore new perspectives.
Intermediate to advanced improvisation techniques culminating in performances derived from set material and suggestions from the audience and involving professional improvisers as well as kids. The purpose of QuickPlay is to get children to think on their feet, to listen with their whole being, to become comfortable not knowing the outcome and to be there for each other come what may.
An adaptation workshop bringing four groupings of three kids and three adults (writer, director and actor) together to adapt a fairy tale - each group from a different character's perspective - and culminating in a theatrical performance.
The purpose of the Three-on-Threes is to expose kids to beginning level performance art techniques, to develop their collaboration skills, sharpen their imaginations, and deepen their commitment to the creative process.
Six to eight Project kids are paired with six to eight senior citizens. The teams are taken through a writing/performing workshop exploring a specific theme. The work that is generated from theatre games and writing exercises is turned over to professional directors - each one assigned to a specific child/senior pairing. The director shapes the material that can be autobiographical, metaphorical or allegorical into performance art pieces. InterPlay is produced in conjunction with VideoPlay - the end result is multi-media performance art performed by Project participants and senior citizens. The purpose of InterPlay is to bridge the gap between generations through the discovery of similarities and differences and shared inquiry into life lessons and choices. Project participants are also challenged to apply the skills they have learned as playwrights, poets and photographers to think visually and make abstract connections that might not make linear sense but make sense intuitively - opening their minds once again to a fresh perspective. VIDEOPLAY Six to eight Project kids learn documentary film techniques - everything from how to use a video camera and sound equipment to interview techniques that draw subjects out while putting them at their ease. They learn how to tell simple stories through moving images and sound and also learn basic interviewing and video editing techniques. At the end of the workshop, each videographer is assigned his/her own InterPlay team - a senior citizen, Project participant and a professional director. The VideoPlay kids interview their InterPlay team and, with their directors, gather footage that will support or enhance the performance pieces that have been written by their InterPlay team.
The purpose of VideoPlay is to develop social and communication skills, collaboration and story telling techniques, and an expanded visual awareness of the world around them.
An intensive workshop for Project teens that uses the business of running a theatre to teach marketing, financial, leadership and life skills. During their early years in the Project, participants learn to think creatively about themselves as well as the world around them. When our teens are sophomores in high school, the Project introduces them to the world of business.
The purpose of Afterplay is to give young people who are beginning to think creatively about their lives the practical skills to turn their dreams into reality.
Periodically, the Project collaborates with another theatre or arts organization to expose Project kids to different artistic disciplines and aesthetics. In 1999, the Project completed a highly successful collaboration with the LA-based Cornerstone Theater Company. Cornerstone is nationally recognized for community collaborations transforming the classics and well known texts into new plays and theatrical experiences. In the fall of 2002, the Project collaborated with Bob Beuth and Rob Harrison, founders of Stories of the Season, a nationally recognized touring company that incorporates masks, puppetry, and live musicians into their productions. Our collaboration utilized over fifty puppets and masks and incorporated twenty Project kids as performers, mask makers, puppeteers and production crew.
Since 2000, Playmaking workshops have been in place year round at Park Century School, a school for children with learning disabilities. The entire student body, parents, and friends enjoy the Culmination Day which involves staged readings of the plays by professional actors with each author sitting on stage when his/her play is being performed.
Smart Partners, our creative tutoring program, is at John Adams Middle School and Lincoln Middle School using peer to peer tutoring with eighth graders tutoring sixth graders. Peer to peer mentoring makes it possible for eighth graders to earn community service hours and experience giving back and a long term commitment. It also inspires sixth graders to do well in school so they can become tutors when they reach the eighth grade. Many Project participants aspire to become tutors when they reach the eighth grade and often continue as mentors in our Smart Partners program through high school. All the creative work done in our Smart Partners Outreach program is included in The Buzz.
In 2009 we launched Creative Expression at Dorsey High School - this program combines key elements of Creative Play 2, Playmaking, Wordplay and VideoPlay. It takes place over a three year period and is designed to expose high school students to the imagination, discipline, respect, patience and focus that are required to create, promote and perform their own production.
In 2010, we launched Creative Expression at New Los Angeles Charter School - an independent, public, charter middle school serving 300 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students largely from Title One families. New L.A.'s mission is to develop a diverse community of students who are passionate about learning, engaged in their community, and have respect for themselves and others. The Virginia Avenue Project provides New L.A. with Visual Arts, Creative Dramatics, Story Adaptation, and Performance Workshops and works with the same kids in small groups for three years.