By Terri Roberts
Earlier this month, eager students and their chaperones from three area high schools visited the Fountain Theatre for specially arranged morning performances of our current hit show, The Lifespan of a Fact. These kids had either been participants in Fountain Voices, the Fountain’s acclaimed theatre education program, or were recruited because they were active in their established high school theatre programs. Many of them already had an interest in the arts, some were newly exposed to it, and quite a few were even considering careers as writers and/or performers. All of them were thrilled to be seeing the show.
On Friday, March 3rd, 44 students from Hollywood High School and 15 students from Helen Bernstein High School were bussed to the Fountain to see Lifespan. A week later, on March 10th, approximately 60 students arrived from Compton Early College High School. Pre-show snacks and lunch were provided in the Fountain’s charming upstairs café, and the kids chatted excitedly about both seeing the show and the Q&A with the cast (Inger Tudor, Jonah Robinson, Ron Bottitta) and director (Simon Levy) that followed the performance.
Ali Nezu, Magnet Coordinator for the New Media Academy and the Performing Arts Magnet at Hollywood High School was also excited for the opportunity. “It’s just been a blessing to have such an amazing group of artists and board members and community people that just love and respect the arts and that understand how desperately we need the arts to create social change,” she said. “And the learning that happens in a situation like this, and the engagement level of the students in the content and their own growth is just so much more than in a situational classroom. So I love that we are inspiring students to experience that but then inspire them and empower them to do that in their own lives moving forward.”
“It’s just been a blessing to have such an amazing group of artists and board members and community people that just love and respect the arts, and that understand how desperately we need the arts to create social change,” says Ali Nezu, Magnet Coordinator for the New Media Academy and the Performing Arts Magnet at Hollywood High School.
“I really appreciate how Fountain Voices teaches students how to get into someone else’s shoes,” enthused Ebony Haywood, who teaches English and Theatre at Compton Early Collage. “To understand how someone else is thinking, to how do you put this story together? How do you present, and represent, this story on stage? It’s like an exercise in being human.”
Sherrick O’Quinn, the Fountain’s Theatre Education Manager, agrees. “Fountain Voices is instrumental in giving kids an opportunity to realize and find their voice,” he says. “The programming we are providing is giving them the tools to learn how to be change agents of the future by using the theater arts to communicate their own stories that can change lives, hearts, and minds. Whether it’s learning how to use playwriting or visiting our theater to see a show, we’re creating accessibility to the arts when we’re seeing students increasingly not being given those opportunities – especially in underserved communities.”
To learn more about Fountain Voices, contact Sherrick O’Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To purchase tickets to see The Lifespan of a Fact, now extended to April 30th, call 323/663-1525 or visit www.fountaintheatre.com.