Are a majority Latino population, most 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation from recently immigrated families. We have over 70% free or reduced lunch provided for our students. We have a shockingly sizable homeless student population.
My students are natural performers, but have no space to call home as performance artists; they see a traditional theater as necessary to perform high quality productions--therefore their own functional professional theater space is incredibly necessary for them to develop pride in, and eventually create, a successful artistic culture that this middle school has yet to see.
The school is improving year by year in all regards recently, while still helping new immigrant children in developing themselves and assisting their families in supporting them, developing the community in turn. All despite the school and area having been known for gang, crime and violence issues for many years previous. Having a well-equipped home theater will be a major factor in continuing to win the hearts and minds of our students against a strong gang culture.
There have been no performances in our studio in years. It is dusty and old with dubious history. When the concerns are raised, the responses are dismissive. "We can just pay for the use of an 'actual' theater somewhere else to perform in," is a a popular refrain.
There are several issues with this perspective: A) You don't need a venue, nor traditional stage space to perform; B) We need a home as actors to have pride in and develop a successful artistic culture; C) Money is precious; D) We are the only Middle School Drama program in the district.
We need versatile lighting to do professional style shows in what will be the Cougar Studio Theater, and to use to perform anywhere that any situation dictates. This will bring a pride to the school and the drama program that has been previously unknown, only doing one show per year as paying guests in other schools' theater spaces. We will be doing a great deal of Shakespeare to support high level, creative and imaginative literacy, as well as maintain productions of the great theatrical Chicano tradition, to connect the new comers with the community and with those Latinos that were born here.
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