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Students from New York City Schools, SOA Join Theater Professionals for October 28 Production about 9-11

By Lauren Marshall

Sketches by Vicki R. Davis

Six months ago, a dozen graduate students from the School of the Arts (SOA) Theater Program and seven accomplished playwrights worked with groups of students from four New York City high schools on journalistic writing, theater techniques and staged impromptu dialogues. The topic was 9-11. On Mon., Oct. 28, seven one-act plays, inspired by the stories and experiences of these New York City teenagers, will be presented during an original evening of theater at Columbia's Miller Theater at 8:00 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public. For tickets contact victory@theschool.columbia.edu or (212) 330-7464.

Entitled "An Epiphany of Grace," the one-time production is a theatrical demonstration of the power of creativity, collaboration and civic spirit in overcoming tragedy and adversity. It is the culmination of the unique Columbia University-sponsored Victory Project, a performing arts experience that has paired students from four New York City high schools and graduate students of SOA with accomplished theater arts professionals, including playwrights, directors, actors, composers and set designers.

"This project is so unusual because it combines professional artistic talent from New York City and Los Angeles, the resources and teaching of Columbia's academic community and students in the public schools who have a real interest in theater," said Marc Meyer, executive director of the Center for Integrated Learning and Teaching at The School at Columbia University, Columbia's new K-8 school, which has chosen this project to spearhead the School's educational outreach to New York City schools. "The spirit of creative collaboration throughout this project, from professionals offering their services pro bono to the students freely committing their free time, has been exceptional."

Victor Talmadge, actor, playwright and artistic director of the Victory Project added: "The plays all incorporate the viewpoints of New York City high school students. This has been a collective way to deal with the effects of 9-11 through the performing arts and will offer everyone who sees it a unique perspective of the events of last September."

The Oct. 28th performance will be hosted by actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates and features both professional actors and high school students performing together on stage. The plays touch on themes relevant to New York City high school students, including the loss of a parent, the everyday concerns of teenagers pre-9-11 and conversations post-9-11, dealing with death and tensions among ethnic groups.

Playwrights include Colman Hough, author of the screenplay of the movie "Full Frontal," to appear in theaters soon, and Steve Molton and Pam Glavin, writers of the Showtime documentary "L.A. Homefront." Original music written by Robert Waldman, who has composed scores for screenplays and Broadway productions, such as the Robber Bridegroom, will be performed by students from Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. High School students from two downtown high schools, the High Schools for Leadership and Public Services and for Economics, Beacon High School, A. Philip Randolph High School in Harlem and Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School volunteered to participate in the project. Every student who participated in the summer work has been invited back this fall to act or participate in the Oct. 28th production.

The Victory Project is part of a fledging outreach program to New York City Schools undertaken by The School at Columbia University, which is scheduled to open fall 2003. Part of The School's mission is to go beyond educating its own children by providing outreach activities in New York City and beyond. In addition to special projects such as the Victory Project, The School will provide opportunities for curriculum development and will share pedagogy and educational tools developed at The School.

This project has been made possible by The School at Columbia University and The School of the Arts, with funding from Showtime, Inc.

Published: Oct 25, 2002
Last modified: Oct 25, 2002

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