As an usher for the student matinees as well as mom of a tween, it is dear to my heart that students from all backgrounds descend upon us beginning in the fall to connect through theatre. I often wonder what these young scholars take away from their experience at Park Square Theatre. My only glimpses are their reactions as they watch the play, any comments that I overhear during intermission or after the show and their questions to the cast if they stay for a post-show discussion.
Today while watching The House on Mango Street with a mainly Hmong audience of sixth, seventh and eighth graders (who came without any cellphones!), I witnessed students so engaged in the performance that when the character Darius pointed out beyond the audience to an imaginary cloud, dozens of heads turned to see for themselves. While monitoring the bathrooms at intermission for a different school audience, I once spoke to a girl who thought it was way cool to have just read the book and now see its stage interpretation. And a week ago, I sat in on a cast discussion with a Spanish class conducted en Espanol. Those not totally fluent in Spanish, including cast members, were aided by those more fluent. It was muy estupendo!
A scene from A House on Mango Street
Photograph by Petronella J. Ytsma
Student groups are now coming to see A Raisin in the Sun on our Boss Thrust Stage. Afterwards, I wonder: What will they have to say about racism and white privilege? How did they feel about the three generations of women in the play? Will they empathize with Walter Lee? How did this play relate to or expand the world around them, both near and far? Will they go deep or barely scratch the surface on the issues? Will it simply be seen and parked or feel much too relevant to ignore?
A scene from A Raisin in the Sun
Photograph by Connie Shaver
I really wouldn’t know the answers unless I could be a “fly on the wall” during these young people’s bus rides back or in their classroom discussions. But my greatest hope is that the plays that they see at Park Square Theatre are seeds planted in their minds to inspire future social action and changes to better our world. Or to pursue their greatest dreams and follow their callings based on watching others on stage who do just that.
May Park Square Theatre, in essence, serve as their Muse.
Students at Park Square Theatre for a matinee
P.S. Any teacher wanting me to be a “fly on the wall,” just let me know! I would be thrilled to listen in.
Don’t Miss These Upcoming Raisin in the Sun Events!!!
A Raisin in the Sun student matinees run from November 1 to December 22 (contact Megan Losure at 651.291.9196 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to watch with school groups)
A Raisin in the Sun evening and weekend performances run from October 28 to November 20
Post-show discussion with Twin Cities playwright Christina Ham and Jamice Obianyo (Director, Community Relations, Ecolab) on Wednesday, November 2
Musings with Twin Cities Theatre Bloggers on Sunday, November 6
Post-show discussion with former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton on Sunday, November 13
Theatre Fan Night Out: Four Tickets for $99 available for Thursday, November 10, 7:30 pm; Thursday, November 17, 7:30 pm; Friday, November 18, 7:30 pm; Sunday, November 20, 2 pm (use code FAN when ordering)