It’s Showtime for CCUSD Fifth-Graders

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24th Street Theatre
Linwood E. Howe Elementary School fifth-graders stage a tableau during a field trip to 24th Street Theatre.

Life’s a literal stage for Culver City Unified District fifth graders, as they participate in live-theater experience in 24th Street Theatre’s education program. Poet and performance artist Linda Ravenswood (students call the Ph.D. “Dr. Linda”), who is the students’ theater guide, has a standard introductory question for the first meeting.

“Does anyone know why we applaud?” she asks. She explains, “Live theatre is over 2,500 years old. It used to be in outdoor amphitheaters with dirt floors and was unsanitary. People would eat in the theatre. They’d also blow their noses, and throw hankies into the air to show excitement for the performance. Applauding to show approval was invented to replace the public tossing of gross hankies.”

For three days, CCUSD fifth-graders become immersed in live theatre. Ravenswood visits classrooms and the program ends with a field trip to 24th Street Theatre, where students see what goes on behind the curtains while being taught history, production, and theatre lessons. The field trip, which runs two hours, also includes a lesson in empathy, race relations, language arts, and math.

24th Street Theatre has been offering its Enter Stage Right (ESR) school education program to CCUSD for six years, with a goal to engage students and to teach the California Visual and Performing Arts Standards in math, history, and language arts.

The review of live theater include discussions which cover ancient history to contemporary multimedia production, through improvisation techniques, incorporating production components of sets, sound, lights,  and live music. Students are welcomed to 24th Street with interactive video segments hosted by CCHS alum, actor/singer Jack Black. The program concludes with a scene developed by students and immerses participants in a theatre experience, from a ticket purchase at the box office, to a demonstration of the power of the spoken and written word.

As one of CCUSD’s Front and Center Theatre Collaborative’s six-arts partners, 24th Street Theatre focuses on young audiences and strives to bring families together. 24th Street Theatre offers discounted tickets for CCUSD families to see its current production, ICE.

ICE is “a bilingual, humorous journey in search of what it means to be ‘American.’” Promotional material describes the production: “With a love of baseball, Tia Victoria’s salsa recipe and the help of a talking truck, two cousins work day and night to make their taco truck the ‘Uncle Sam’  of mobile restaurants. Will a contest to be ‘the most American food truck’  at Dodger Stadium on the Fourth of July prove to Immigration, Naturalization and Customs that they truly belong?”

The play is presented in Spanish & English with supertitles. Appropriate for ages 8+. Show information and tickets available here. Use code CCUSD for the discount. The play runs through June 24, 2018.

For more information, visit CCUSD Front & Center Theatre Collaborative and 24th Street Theatre.

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