On the Road in Northern Connecticut: Hartford Stage | Connecting Point | Nov. 4, 2015

On the Road in Northern Connecticut: Hartford Stage | Connecting Point | Nov. 4, 2015


>>FOR OVER 50 YEARS HARTFORD’S
STAGE HAS BEEN BRINGING TOP FLIGHT TONY AWARD WINNING
THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS TO LIFE. THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING TO MAKE
LIFE BETTER FOR SCHOOL KIDS WITH A PROGRAM CALL “CONNECTIONS.”
JENNIFER ROBERTS CAME TO THE MARK TWAIN HOUSE TO PLAY IT’S
NOT JUST TAKING PERFORMANCES INTO THE CLASSROOM BUT RATHER
LITERACY THROUGH THEATRE.>>TEACHES ARTIST GOES IN FOR A
WEEK BEFORE KIDS READ A BOOK. IT’S ALL PRE READING AND REALLY
MEANT TO BUILD SUSPENSE ABOUT THE BOOK AND GET KIDS EXCITED TO
READ. THE SAME REASON WE GET EXCITED
TO SEE A PIECE OF THEATRE, THE SAME THING WORKS FOR KID.
WHEN YOU ACT OUT CHARACTERS AND INVOLVE THEM IN ACTING OUT
SCENES FROM THE BOOK, ASKING THEM TO IMAGINE WHAT HAPPENS
NEXT AND PHYSICALIZING IT WITH THEIR BODY, THAT’S WHAT WE DO
THROUGH THE WEEK. EVERY TIME WE GET TO A POINT
WHERE THERE’S A DROOCIAL SUSPENSE POINT IN THE BOOK AND
THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, WE SAY GOTTA WAIT UNTIL
YOU READ THE BOOK, YOU A MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE.
THEY REALLY CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE BOOK.
WE HAVE TEACHERS THAT WANT TO START THE BOOK CLASS ON MONDAY
AND TEACHERS TELL US, MY KIDS WENT HOME AND READ IT OVER THE
WEEKEND. SO WE KNOW THAT IT WORKS.
AND WE ARE VERY PROUD OF THIS PROGRAM, IT’S ONE OF OUR MOST
POPULAR. WE’RE IN ABOUT 300 CLASSROOMS
EACH YEAR. OVERALL WE SERVE ABOUT 19,000
STUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE STATE. SO — BUT THIS PROGRAM IS ONE OF
OUR MOST POPULAR AND ONE OF OUR LONGEST STANDING.
>>I HATE TO BE CRASS WHEN WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT
GREAT. BUT IT’S NOT INEXPENSIVE, I AM
SURE. ONE OF THE WAYS I HEARD BIT IS
BECAUSE I HEARD ABOUT A GRANT, HARTFORD STAGE GOT RECENTLY FROM
THE LEGO COMMUNITY FUND OF THE UNITED STATES, $82,000-PLUS TO,
HELP DO YOU THIS AND TO PARTICULARLY ADDRESS SCIENCE AND
FINANCIAL LITERACY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE.
>>YEAH.>>WOW, WHAT AN ASSIGNMENT!
>>WE’VE DONE A LOT OF ARTS INTEGRATION WORK, TEACHING
THROUGH THEATRE, ANOTHER SUBJECT MATTER.
THEATRE SEEMS TO GO WITH LITERACY, THAT REALLY FITS.
IT’S A BIGGER STRETCH TO IMAGINE HOW THEATRE CAN TEACH SCIENCE OR
FINANCIAL LITERACY BUT IT CAN. IT BUILDS EMPATHY.
IF YOU CAN PRESENT STUDENTS WITH A WAY TO THINK ABOUT SOMEONE
DEALING WITH A PROBLEM THAT THEY CAN PUT THEMSELVES INTO THAT
PERSON’S SHOES, THEN THEY REALLY EXPERIENCE THE CONTENT IN A NEW
WAY. THAT’LL BE TAKING PLACE OVER THE
COURSE OF THIS ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR.
>>YOU CITED SOME NUMBERS AND MINUTE AGO WHICH MADE MY HEAD
SPIN. I SAW SOME FROM THE ENTIRE 17
YEARS OF THE PROGRAM, STARTED IN 1999.
THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS, I SAW A NUMBER, AT LEAST 60,000
DIFFERENT STUDENTS HAVE BEEN REACHED.
I’VE GOT A FEELING IT’S MORE THAN THAT, 150 SCHOOLS, ALMOST
50 COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE WHOLE STATE OF CONNECTICUT.
THAT’S AN AMAZING REACH THAT YOU’RE HAVING.
>>THANK YOU. WE DO A LOT OF THINGS IN OUR
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT. SOMETIMES WE’RE BRINGING
STUDENTS TO US, WE’LL BRING STUDENTS TO SEE “A CHRISTMAS
CAROL” OR ONE OF OUR OTHER SHOWS.
THE THING THAT IS NOT AS VISIBLE AND PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT AS
MUCH IS WE’RE SENDING TEACHING ARTISTS INTO SCHOOLS TO DO
PROGRAMS LIKE “CONNECTION IT IS AND AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS.
OUR FEATURING ARTISTS PUT MANY, MANY MILES ON THEIR CARS TO GET
TO THESE SCHOOLS. IT’S PART OF OUR COMMITMENT TO
REALLY ADDRESSING — THERE’S A BIG DISPARATE IN TERMS OF WHAT
SCHOOLS HAVE ACCESS TO THE ARTS AND HOW MUCH ACCESS TO THE ARTS.
SO WE ARE COMMITTED AS AN ARTS COMMUNITY, AS AN ARTS
ORGANIZATION IN THIS COMMUNITY, TO MAKING SURE STUDENTS DO HAVE
ACCESS TO THIS KIND OF LEARNING AND THESE KINDS OF EXPERIENCES.
>>I SUPPOSE THERE’S PROBABLY A DIFFERENT ANSWER TO THIS NEXT
QUESTION. FOR EVERY ARTIST OR TEACHER YOU
V. BUT THEY GO IN FOR THAT WEEK IN RESIDENCE TO GET THE KIDS
EXCITED ABOUT A BOOK. ARE THEY GOING AND ACTING OUT
PIECES?>>YEAH.
>>HOW DOES IT WORK?>>YES, OUR TEACHING ARTISTS
PLAY THE ROLE OF ACTORS, DIRECTORS, STORYTELLERS,
TEACHERS, AND WEAVE IN AND OUT OF THE ROLES THROUGHOUT THE
WEEK. THERE’S AN ART OF THE WEEK AND
OF THE STORY. FOR INSTANCE WITH A BOOK, A
TEACHING ARTIST MIGHT GO IN ON THE FIRST DAY, TEACH THE KIDS
HOW TO DO SOME THEATRE THINGS LIKE TABLEAU, FROZEN IMAGE THAT
TELL AS STORY. IF KIDS COULD MAKE A TABLEAU OF
SCENE THEY WROTE READ IN A BOOK WE KNOW THEY UNDERSTAND IT.
>>THEN THE TEACHING ARTIST MIGHT SAY, WE’RE GOING TO
INTRODUCE THIS CHARACTER FROM THE BOOK.
THE KIDS WILL ASK QUESTIONS AND GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK
AND IT’S THEIR FIRST TASTE OF WHAT’S GOING HAPPEN.
THEN THEY MIGHT HEAR A LITTLE BIT FROM THE TEXT.
AND THEN WE MIGHT ASK THIS TOMORROW IMAGINE WHAT HAPPENS
NEXT. THEY MAY THEN MAKE A TABLEAU,
THEY MAY CREATE A DIALOGUE. SO IT’S VERY ACTIVE, REALLY
APPEALS TO DIFFERENT STYLES OF LEARNING.
AS MUCH ABOUT THE KIDS GETTING UP AND GETTING INVOLVED AS IT IS
ABOUT THE TEACHING ARTIST ALSO LEADING THROUGH DRAMA.
>>WE TALK A LOT THESE DAYS ABOUT S.T.E.M. EDUCATION,
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH.
I SAW A GREATLY QUOTE FROM HEART FORTUNATE HAD SUSTAINABLE
MANAGER, SAYING LET’S MAKE IT S.T.E. A. M., ADDING THE ARTS.
>>WHEN YOU LOOK AT SKILLS NEEDED FOR 21st CENTURY JOBS,
WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE YET. THEY MAY NOT EVEN HAVE BEEN
INVENTED YET. OF COURSE IT’S IMPORTANT FOR
THEM TO LEARN ABOUT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.
WE KNOW ALL OF THIS. IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO
HAVE CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS AND CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION.
THAT’S WHAT’S GOING TO BE ASKED OF THEM WHEN THEY JOIN THE
WORKFORCE, ALONG WITH THESE OTHER SUBJECTS.
YEAH, ABSOLUTELY, S.T.E. A. M. COMPONENTS.
>>THERE MUST BE AMAZING REACTIONS FROM STUDENTS AND
PARENTS WHO HAVE BEEN PART OF “CONNECTIONS.”
>>WE DO HEAR A LOT FROM STUDENTS DURING THE WEEK.
WE CAN FEEL THEIR EXCITEMENT. WE HEAR A LOT FROM TEACHERS AND
WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN RELUCTANT READERS WHO
HAVE REALLY COME ALIVE DURING THE WEEK.
SOMETIMES THE STUDENTS YOU’VE SEEN — WHO SEEMED RELUCTANT TO
PARTICIPATE OR EVEN SHY, TEACHERS SAY I SAW THIS KID GET
UP AND DO THIS THING I NEVER THOUGHT THEY WOULD DO.
WE’RE ASKING THEM TO TAKE A RISK AND LEARN IN A DIFFERENT WAY.
SOME KIDS HAVEN’T BEEN ASKED TO LEARN IN THAT WAY.
WE HAVE TEACHERS TALKING ABOUT HOW EXCITED THEIR KIDS TOR READ.
THAT’S REALLY THE GOAL OF THE PROGRAM FOR US.
WE CAN’T MEASURE EXACTLY WHAT — WE EM BED COMPREHENSION SKILLS
AND QUESTIONING AND MAKING PREDICTIONS, ALL OF THESE THINGS
WE KNOW KIDS NEEDED TO DO TO BE ABLE TO BE GOOD READERS INTO THE
PROGRAM. BUT WE CAN’T MEASURE WHAT THEY
DO WITH THAT MONTHS AND YEARS FROM NOW.
BUT WHAT WE CAN MEASURE IS HOW MOTIVATED ARE THEY TO READ IN
THIS MOMENT. AT THE END OF THE PROGRAM WE
GIVE THEM THEIR OWN COPY OF THE BOOK TO TAKE HOME AND BECOME
PART OF THEIR PERSONAL LIBRARY. AND REALLY TRY TO SAY TO THEM,
THIS IS FOR YOU, A BOOK TO KEEP AND READ OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
>>JENNIFER ROBERT, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION FOR HARTFORD STAGE,
THANK YOU FOR CONNECTIONS AND FOR VISITING US ON “CONNECTING
POINT.”>>THANKS SO MUCH.

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