I attended the Theatre Communications Group‘s Annual Conference last summer and learned something amazing: high school students are interested in live theatre. (I thought all they wanted to do was go to the mall and sexting.)
Seriously though, I attended a session with students who participate in Steppenwolf’s Young Adult Council and Berkeley Rep’s Teen Council and it was the most inspiring event of the entire conference for me. These students dispelled many myths we theatre producers often believe. The first is that their attention spans are too short for theatre. We always assume because the youth of America are watching short Funny or Die videos, they couldn’t possibly sustain their attention for an entire play. (I watch plenty of Funny or Die and can still sit through plays, why couldn’t somebody half my age?)
The other myth they dispelled was that they can’t connect to adult material. I hate to say this is a myth I believed. I wrongly assumed students wanted to see plays about kids their age and that plays like God of Carnage or Stuff Happens would be a bore. (Let me state this now: I understand I listened to a select group of high school students and they may not represent all high school students. I also recognize many adults find God of Carnage and Stuff Happens boring.) What the students told a group of about thirty adult theatre-makers was that they wanted to be engaged artistically. I thought that’s all I want as well. Then, after the session ended, I had a pretty standard five minute discussion with one of these students about a play from Radar LA and I realized I’ve been pretty shortsighted. Many of us have.
These students are hungry for knowledge and experience. They want to be exposed to more theatre. They want to engage in the form. They want what I want. They’re just a younger version of me. That day I wrote a note to myself that said “Don’t patronize the youth. Remove barriers.” Then I went back to work and started to think about what we could do about this.
It’s pretty clear a major barrier keeping students from attending live theatre is the cost. Boston Court has strived for the past several years to provide discounted opportunities, but we recognize even a five-dollar ticket can be difficult for high school students. So we decided to start offering cost-free rush tickets to any current high school student. It’s not quite the amazing programs being run at Berkeley or Steppenwolf. But it’s a start. And it’s an opportunity for the students in the Pasadena and Los Angeles areas to see theatre at no cost as well as be exposed to a style of theatre they may not normally have the opportunity to see.
This program will begin with the world premiere production of The Children, by Michael Elyanow and directed by Jessica Kubzansky. The production is scheduled to run from Saturday, May 12 through Sunday, June 10. Previews begin Thursday, May 3.
Students are required to provide a current school-issued ID. There is a one ticket limit per student, pending availability.
I’m hopeful area students will take advantage of this opportunity and that it may perhaps evolve into something as awesome as what’s going on in the Bay Area and the Windy City.
- Any unsold seat will be made available to any current high school student at no charge.
- This program begins as soon as we start previews for our next production, The Children.
- Funny or Die is good. And so is live theatre.