Subject: Touring Summer Theatre Company Crosses Cultural Divides
I’m writing to see if you or a colleague might be interested in doing a column (or if a reporter would be interested in writing a feature story) on the power of the arts to cross boundaries and start conversations.
A hook for this could be looking at Traveling Players Ensemble, which teaches classical theatre to teens and preteens, and takes their shows on tour. These tours allow the group to engage widely diverse audiences.
A good example is the group’s recent tour of The Trojan Women by Euripides, considered the world’s oldest surviving anti-war play. The play, set after the fall of Troy, focuses on the suffering of the surviving women, and was written in 415 BC as a critique of contemporary wartime atrocities.
The cast of nine high schoolers performed at venues with unique relationships to those themes, including a Jewish retirement home, which included holocaust survivors among its residents, a retirement home for US veterans and their families, and a symposium on nonviolent conflict resolution at Georgetown Day School, featuring AU Professor in International Service Barbara Wien. Each performance was followed by a discussion, allowing the audiences and the young performers to engage in vital conversations.
On April 15, high school actors can audition for Traveling Troupe, an advanced summer program that rehearses Shakespeare’s crowd-pleasing Merry Wives of Windsor for five weeks and then goes on a two-week-long tour by bus and backpack to venues like Colonial Williamsburg, the Lime Kiln Amphitheater, and Douthat State Park. Jeanne Harrison, Traveling Players’ Founder and Artistic Director, directs the production. She recently received the Arts Council of Fairfax County’s Strass Award for her integration of physical and classical theatre.
Local stage combat choreographer Casey Kaleba, who has staged fights for Traveling Players since 2006, notes, “The interactive nature of [Traveling Players’] shows encourages a relationship between artist and audience. All of this is made possible by the Traveling Players’ ethos of art as part of a mutually supportive community. Whether it is the collaborative necessity of touring, or their ‘leave no trace’ camping, or their practice of bringing theatre to diverse audiences, the group always operates with someone else in mind. Many arts organizations operate by asking what the community can do for them, but the Traveling Players succeed because they ask what they can do with their community.”
Traveling Players website:
A little information on Traveling Players:
Traveling Players Ensemble was founded in 2003 with the mission to enhance self-expression, self-reliance, problem-solving skills and to heighten appreciation of challenges and beauty by bringing great theatre into the great outdoors. Combining specialties in education, arts, and environment, TPE’s camp was featured in The Washington Post as a “little known gem for the budding actor,” and a summer camp that “meaningfully combats ‘nature-deficit disorder,’” as well as being distinguished by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of 25 model Summer Schools in the Arts. We have been featured twice on WAMU’s Metro Connection (National Public Radio) and as a Washington Post Weekend Pick. Our students have received many honors, as individuals and as ensembles, including significant artistic scholarships to college. Now in our 16th year, our program has grown from a summer camp of 18 students to a year-round curriculum engaging up to 700 students annually. Founded on faith in the imagination, wit, and honesty of teenagers, Traveling Players’ educational programs focus on classical dramatic traditions: Moliere, Shakespeare, Commedia dell’Arte, and ancient mythology.
To find out more about Traveling Players Ensemble, visit https://www.travelingplayers.org.
If you’re not interested in this, could you pass it on to someone who might be? Thanks very much.