For the past twelve weeks, I have been working extensively with Chicago's renowned American Theatre Company on a series that they have deemed their "Educational Bridge program," in which they select eight-to-ten Chicago high school drama clubs for further theatrical development. After assigning each school with a playwright and a teaching artist, ATC asks that every team, during the twelve weeks, develops, writes, rehearses and produces a thirty-minute one-act play, to be performed for both the school audiences and on the ATC Mainstage at program's end.
After a short interview process, I was selected as one of the program's playwrights. I was assigned to Gage Park High School, a three-story high school located alongside the southern half of Western Avenue, just a few blocks from the Western Orange Line CTA train stop. There, I was introduced to my teaching artist Melissa Rosenberg, and we proceeded to - with the help of drama coach Maria Rivera and a cast of twenty-two students - develop a thirty-minute piece that ultimately became the comedy "Romeo & Juliet & All Their Facebook Friends."
On May 10th and 11th, the students performed the production to very enthusiastic audiences. And on tonight, the comedy was presented to a crowd of friends, families, and ATC staff members, and it enjoyed a warm reception. During the Talkback session afterwards, I realized how close I had become with the 22-person cast; they each and every one of them brought something fresh and funny and interesting to the table. Most people say that, but I actually mean it. I wish them the best, and those in the group that are serious about pursuing theater ... let's just say I've tracked them down on Facebook to stay in touch.
Whether I am chosen for this program next year, I hope to continue building my relationship with American Theatre Company, a wonderful Equity theater that focused acutely on the concept of American identity.