Theatre Program In London Proves Inspirational
April 11, 2007
Carol Fisher, department of theatre and dance, received a 2006-07
CIE Faculty International Travel grant funded by the VPAA and traveled
to England in March 2007 to observe and participate in the Creative Learning
program at the Lyric Theater in London. Her account of the trip follows.
“The Lyric Theater has a long legacy of outstanding, ground
breaking work for the community and young people in the West London boroughs.
The START program introduces basic skills in the performing arts for young
people outside the formal education sector.
The Lyric's main stage performances include a wide range of theatre which
reaches audiences from infant to young adult. Plays for infants and toddlers
explore the theatrical experience through active participation and multi-sensory
involvement. Income-challenged youth have the opportunity to attend plays
through substantial corporate sponsorship.
In addition to performances for young people, there is a variety of opportunities
for actor training and play production by youth. It is clear that the success
of this theatre's youth program can be attributed to the consistent level
of quality and innovation found in all their projects.
The most inspiring aspect of the program was found in the Creative Learning
team's strategies for young people at risk and those identified as NEET
(not in employment, education or training). They have established a variety
of projects which improve literacy and mathematical skills based on the
National Standards of Education. These projects target specific artistic
interests relevant to this particular population. By translating these
interests into learning concepts, the teachers are able to begin building
bridges between the arts and academics.
Some examples of these projects include using pop lyrics as inspiration
for writing original poetry and studying the structure of Hip-Hop rhythms
to understand mathematical concepts. "Single Moms Singin' " responds
to the love of contemporary music, while offering accredited learning in
reading. In addition, quality child care is provided for these single teenage
mothers while they participate. The success of these projects has resulted
in measurable improvement in test scores and a reduction of crime among
young repeat offenders.
My brief exposure to these ground breaking projects for youth and the
community has been fruitful. The coordinator has expressed an interest
in developing an intern relationship and collaboration through workshops
and lectures. A firsthand introduction to this innovative work of the Creative
Learning team has sparked for me many new ideas in project development
and teaching strategies.
Though the value of the dollar made London a very expensive trip for me
personally, the supplemental funds from CIE were very appreciated."