Berkshire Theatre Group’s education efforts to reach 17,000 Massachusetts students in 2014

The Berkshire Theatre Group takes their shows and expertise to students in Western Massachusetts.

The Berkshire Theatre Group takes their shows and expertise to students in Western Massachusetts.

The Berkshire Theatre Group has announced its 2013-2014 programming and events for BTGPLAYS!, BTG’s educational program. The program is the core of the BTG’s mission to serve the community and its students K-12. The program reaches over 17,000 students each year.

There are several components to the effort.

“We are so thrilled that the kids in the community have this opportunity to enjoy, learn, and create theatre in a fun, educational environment and are able experience the magic of the performing arts first hand. It excites me to see the kids learning about the fundamentals of theatre all while having a great time and exploring the arts.” – Allison Rachele Boyles, Administrative Director of Education

Outreach and Touring

BTG’s touring production, The Emperor’s New Clothes, is adapted from the classic tale by Hans Christen Andersen by E. Gray Simons III and directed by Travis G. Daly who also directed this past summer’s community production of Peter Pan and co-directs this season’s A Christmas Carol. The production will run until the end of May 2014 touring to schools in Berkshire County and other local venues including The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst and the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. This production is appropriate for elementary and middle school and is designed to introduce students to the excitement of live theatre. A question and answer session with the actors follows each performance.

Playwriting for Youth

Each Fall there is an In-School Playwriting Residency which engages students in the art of playwriting at schools such as the Kittredge Elementary School in Hinsdale, for 5th grade classes, Farmington River Elementary School in Otis for 6th grade classes, and Richmond Consolidated School in Richmond for 6th grade classes. The programs will conclude with student performances in January 2014.

After School Explorations

The program also offers After School Programs which allows students to discover the fundamentals of theatre production, acting, and storytelling while exploring a classic myth or fairy tale. The after school programs are held in the Pittsfield schools including: Egremont Elementary School, Conte Community School, Reid Middle School, and Herberg Middle School.

The Artists and Teachers

Both the after school programs and the playwriting residencies are led by new artist-in-residence, Maddie Calandrillo with returning artists, Jacob Gold, Corey Cavenaugh and artistic associate, Travis G. Daly. The programs are 14-weeks and intended to be a hands-on kinesthetic learning experience that celebrates each young person and the uniqueness of his/her artistic voice. The final weeks of BTG PLAYS! are filled with the excitement generated by the rehearsal and production of staged readings of selected student written plays at each school for parents and peers.

Productions at the Colonial

For the 2013-2014 school year, BTG will host five performing arts productions at the Colonial: Aladdin and Other Enchanting Tales; A Christmas Carol; Doktor Kaboom! It’s Just Rocket Science; Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, Fredrick, & Inch by Inch; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Special school field trips to the theater and in-school programs allow students to experience diverse, educational and entertaining, programs that reinforce classroom curriculum, while fostering an understanding of and appreciation for the performing arts.

Juvenile Resource Center

For the second year, BTG will work with teens from Pittsfield’s Juvenile Resource Center on using theatre skills to build confidence, life skills and communication ability. Students will train to be assistant teachers/mentors for children in BTG playwriting residencies and after school programming in addition to working in various areas of theatre administration.

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