Bartol Grantee Spotlight: 1812 Productions
An 1812 Outreach program at Widener Memorial School. (Photo courtesy of 1812 Productions.)
As part of a new Q&A series, we will be getting to know the Bartol Foundation’s 2018 grantees. 1812 Productions received a $5,000 grant for their in-school theater education program, 1812 Outreach, which serves at-risk students at Philadelphia public schools. This program supplements the academic and life skills curriculum by teaching students the basics of theater, including playwriting, acting, stage presence, and character development in workshops.
These questions were answered by Marla Burkholder, Education Director, and Dave Jadico, External Relations Director.
What revs you up to go to work in the morning?
People and puzzles energize me. I know that if I get to visit one of our residency classrooms, I am going to have an interaction with a student that will inspire me, make me look at my day differently, or set up a challenge for me. I love puzzling through those challenges: How do you make the most of a residency that happens in a less than ideal space? How do you make students feel both welcomed and challenged in an exercise? What do we uniquely have to offer students?
What about your work keeps you up at night?
Staffing keeps me up at night. In theater, we sometimes say that good directing is 90% casting, and I think the same thing is true for running an arts education program—finding great teaching artists is crucial. I ask myself to examine whether our teachers reflect the demographics of our students, if they bring their best selves to the classroom, if they see teaching artistry as social justice work, and if they are self-aware and rooted in respect.
What is your favorite field trip? (Real or imagined.)
We are sometimes able to bring our residency students on field trips to see 1812 shows. These are always incredible learning experiences for everyone. Sometimes the students are just excited to get to visit Center City, or to see a live play for the first time. Often, they respond to the show in such smart ways that make me see something new. And eating pre-show pizza is just fun, and an opportunity to get to interact with them outside of the classroom and learn more about their lives.
Best. Snack. Ever.
We started a tradition a couple years ago of bringing Insomnia Cookies for a cast party with our students at Widener Memorial School after their year-end performance. It’s a tie for what brings the biggest smiles— performing on the stage or chocolate chip cookies.