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Student Press Review
Taking more than 300 to the theater involves careful planning
CSPA staff works with Camp Broadway
Editor's note: Originally published: September 5, 2003
B.B King´s Blues Club & Grill, located on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan, was the site of a press conference for Workshop students. Five members of the cast of Urinetown: The Musical spoke with students and answered their questions.
Photo : Aliza Sokolow
Workshop students enjoyed the subway ride to Times Square. For many students, this was their first trip to New York City and their first experience on the transit system.
Photo : Aliza Sokolow
Taking more than 300 students from the Columbia campus to Broadway and back called for planning in stages, said Antonio Rodriguez, an eight-year CSPA staff member and the logistics manager for the trip.
The Broadway musical theatre experience is important to the CSPA Summer Workshop because it "opens a different view of what reporting can be," Rodriguez said.
"It shows that arts people are just as important to a newspaper as news and sports people are," he said. "It also tells people interested in the arts that there are opportunities for them.
"In terms of yearbooks, almost every one that we see in the CSPA office has coverage of arts events, so it's important for yearbook staffs as well as newspaper staffs to be able to write intelligently about the arts."
Rodriguez, who helped arrange for groups to attend 42nd Street and Into the Woods last year, said CSPA staff have already begun talking about plans for a 2004 excursion.
To begin this year's arrangements, Rodriguez said, he called Camp Broadway, a theatre arts program based in New York that works with students and teachers around the country. Camp Broadway suggested Urinetown because it had published StageNOTES, (tm) a field guide for teachers about the program and had worked with cast members who had taught other groups, Rodriguez said.
The study guide includes a letter from the producers, a synopsis, character notes and an interview with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, the show's creators. The guide has essays on satire and social commentary, Bertolt Brecht's theories, and environmental awareness along with lesson plans, literary terms and resources.
Camp Broadway also set up arrangements for the restaurant, B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill, where five cast members gave a news conference and students had lunch.
Within the group of students were individuals who had never visited New York City, let alone experienced a Broadway show or spent a week on a college campus.
To arrange for the excursion, Rodriguez worked with the other six others on the workshop staff to buy MetroCards, arrange participants in 15 small groups, make an "On Broadway" travel guide for group leaders along with postcards that told group leaders where to go and when and how to get there, and sort the materials and tickets. He also sent study guides to workshop instructors.
Chaperone assistance and student responsibility were crucial, Rodriguez said.
Students were not required to wear group clothing. Rather, they were trusted to be observant and responsible for themselves.
Charles Gariepy, a participant from St. Martin's School in New Orleans, La., said the level of maturity the staff expected made him focus on the work. He said he realized the he was responsible for his own enjoyment and education.
Rodriguez said his own best moment during the excursion was during the afternoon at the theatre.
"Students in my own small group had been skeptical about the show-some because of its title," Rodriguez said.
"During intermission, the students really expressed their enjoyment."
Katryn Bowe edits The Wall at North Andover High School in North Andover, Mass. Venessa Williams edits "Seeds," the literary magazine at A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Fla.
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