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On Stage: Creating a Community Dialogue Around Live Theater

Through Springboard for the Arts, a nationally recognized nonprofit arts service organization based in St. Paul, representative Lucas Erickson has launched his new theater outreach program called On Stage: Creating a Community Dialogue Around Live Theater.

On Stage raises awareness of the theater offerings in the Twin Cities to academic classes and groups. It brings local actors to Twin Cities college classrooms and community settings to read scenes from a play in current local production. Participants then engage in a lively discussion of the play’s themes, tying in current events, personal values and narratives to stimulate critical thinking. Subsequently attending the full play is encouraged.

Erickson had created the basic program concept a few years ago while working in Artistic Relations at the Guthrie Theater. Last fall, Erickson enacted a similar program through a nonprofit youth organization called Project SUCCESS around Mixed Blood Theater’s production of An Octoroon.

Now with On Stage, Erickson has programmed readings and discussions around Park Square Theatre’s A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry, which will be on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage from October 28 to November 20. The play is about a family living and struggling on Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s, trying to improve their lives with an insurance payout following the death of the father. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway.


The talented cast of A Raisin in the Sun at Park Square Theatre

Local actors/teaching artists Harry Waters Jr, Thomasina Petrus and H. Adam Harris will be facilitating the On Stage events on A Raisin in the Sun. The first one is free and open to the public at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul, on October 19, 7 to 8 pm. More information is available at

On Stage will also outreach to students of the University of St. Thomas, Augsburg College, Macalester College, the University of Minnesota and St. Catherine University throughout October. However, these events will not be open to the public.

“The purpose of the program is to make local theater relevant to younger and non-traditional audiences and to lay the groundwork for building future theater audiences,” said Erickson.

Lucas Erickson, creator of the On Stage theatre outreach program Photograph by Linda Peterson

Lucas Erickson, creator of the On Stage theatre outreach program
Photograph by Linda Peterson

Erickson has had a long and deep commitment to theater and the arts. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in theater and is currently pursuing a masters in Arts and Cultural Leadership at the University of Minnesota. Since 2013, Erickson has worked on various projects for Creative Community Builders, an organization that helps communities identify different cultural and creative assets. He also serves on the Advisory Board for Made Here, a program spearheaded by the Hennepin Theatre Trust to put local art in vacant downtown storefronts.

Park Square Theatre, with a robust Education Program committed to serving middle- and high-school students throughout Minnesota and its surrounding states, is truly honored that Erickson has chosen to share our production of A Raisin in the Sun in his outreach efforts.


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