Inspiring Youth Theater by The Young Shakespeareans
Grosh recently sat down to talk with Alison Korman, Executive Director and Founder of The Young Shakespeareans, Grand Prize winner of the inaugural Grosh Cares Grants Program for the Performing Arts.
The Young Shakespeareans is one of many stories of the performing arts serving as so much more than art. In this program, inner city kids get challenged, inspired, and empowered and their impact is being felt in South Los Angeles and beyond.
Check out The Young Shakespeareans promo video, shot by our six grade alumni!The Young Shakespeareans promo video, shot by our six grade alumni!
Posted by The Young Shakespeareans on Sunday, August 25, 2019
The Young Shakespeareans is an empowerment program disguised as a theatre program. Working with selected Los Angeles Unified School District 4th and 5th graders, instructors begin an intensive 12 week after-school program. Instructors do not create actors rather develop world citizens to realize their potential and act upon it. Students are taught to publicly speak, have better posture, critically analyze, resolve conflict and much more. This can all be done through the studying of Shakespeare because it is HARD and the challenge results in growth. Ms. Korman noticed effects of her program immediately with attendance going up, quiet students beginning to speak up and a general increase in excitement for education. Students feel lucky to be there and the challenge helps them flourish.
Shakespeare is hard, but life is often scarier outside of the classroom for these children. Whether it is street gang pressures, the fear of losing their parents to deportation, or just turmoil at home, these kids are often considered “at-risk” for having trouble in school.
Sessions begin with mind and body exercises based on meditation practices, teaching kids to control what they can control. But again, they are kids, and Ms. Korman shared a fun story about a Tarzan exercise: Let the kids run around and yell. It allows them to blow off steam and be weird. Although it can appear chaotic, it is beneficial to yell and let your soul break free.
Studying lines has also brought families closer together, in one case reducing pains felt by divorce. Ms. Korman told the story of a student who stayed late one night because he was struggling with lines. His father arrived to pick him up and waited patiently. She and the student analyzed the lines attempting to figure out a solution to cut lines but maintain the story. Ms. Korman then invited the student’s father into the discussion and asked him if he would practice with his son that night. The student came back the next day with a big smile on his face and reported excitedly that instead of retreating to their screens that night his dad practiced his lines with him. They felt a connection again and that power stays with a child forever.
While acting is not for everyone, Ms. Korman has had some students excel in the production of shows. After getting kicked out of the program in her first year, a student begged to come back for a second year. While she lacked the focus to act, she had a mind for production and became a super-star stage manager. While not acting, the student had received tools to be empowered and found her strengths at a young age. In the coming years, The Young Shakespeareans hopes to expand the technical training side of their programs.
Ms. Korman found the Grosh Cares application process easy and plans to use the grant funds to enhance her performance production values. She works really hard and does this pro bono and finds the Grosh Cares Grant validating and exciting. The kids also work extremely hard and deserve an amazing production at the end of their 12 weeks. Grosh has been a partner of the performing arts for many years and Ms. Korman was encouraged to know there are businesses that hold the same values as her and her organization.