From time to time, we like to feature guest bloggers. This time around, Development Intern Christine Kullman shares her experience volunteering during our Free Student Matinee Program for NYC Public School Students.
Primary Stages Free Student Matinees allow the students to experience live theater, something that might be new or a rare occurrence, and they encourage discussion to expand past the classroom.
I love listening to the students as they first enter the theater. They comment on how cozy it is and how much warmer it is inside than the sidewalk where they have been waiting anxiously. The young people come in single file, backpacks on. A Primary Stages staff member leads the group to their seats and we go over a few house rules: cell phone off and no food in the theater.
Watching Fade with teenagers was definitely an exciting experience because they see things so differently from the evening audiences, which tend to be a bit quieter. There were scenes in the show where the students ALWAYS vocalize either their excitement or their disapproval of the characters’ actions.
In one particular scene, the character Abel opens up to the other person in the play, Lucia, about his past. Every time this part came during a Student Matinees, the students were very attentive. I think the reason why they were so engaged at this point is because Abel’s demeanor was challenged, and the students realized that there was so much more going on than met the eye.
When the shows end, our students always seem very eager for the talkback. They are fully engaged with the themes of the show and each one of the students has come to care for the characters.
Shows like Fade allow the next generation of young adults and theater-goers to become engaged not only in their communities but globally as well. Hopefully, these young people will take the lessons taught in Fade, honesty, challenging assumptions, and creating an environment of equity and inclusion, and apply them to the world around them.
Our Free Student Matinee Program for NYC Public School Students has been running for over twenty years, and is generously funded by Primary Stages supporters. In addition to this long-standing program, we also provide free tickets to every Primary Stages production to any NYC middle school, high school, YABC and Pathways to Education student through our TIXTEEN program.