This past month MAAE brought its Building Community Through the Arts creative theater program to the Boys and Girls Club in Augusta.
The Boys and Girls Clubs give after school support to low income youth who are potentially at risk. At the Augusta Boys and Girls Club BCTA teaching artist Jeri Pitcher conducted an extended residency with seven youth, grades seven through nine. Working through group improvisation the students created an interactive theater piece and performed it for the rest of the club members and invited guests on May 5th at the Holocaust Center.
Titled “Runaway,” the piece described the situation of a teen-aged girl who, facing conflicts with her mother at home, struggles with how to deal with it. None of the options she considers – leaving home, staying out on the streets, or getting shelter with some older boys who promise drugs as well as shelter, are healthy ones, and the audience at the end is asked, “what would you do?”
The students’ work was focused and intense, and the discussion at the end was lively as the audience debated the various options, including how the relationship with her mother could have been repaired, so that she felt more comfortable at home.
Augusta Boys and Girls Club Director Darren Joyce is hoping that the Club’s partnership with MAAE will continue: “Thanks to the Maine Alliance for Arts Education, the Augusta Boys and Girls Club had an incredible highlight to our school year with the opportunity to have a drama residency with Jeri Pitcher. Our Club is a teen center and our staff can only provide a handful of options and maintain the safe atmosphere needed. Having a partnership with MAAE allowed our program to offer youth who were always interested in drama but often lacked the confidence to give it a try. Jeri encouraged their voice and choice in creating a piece to present. The youth were absolutely beaming after being able to perform in front of their peers and in front of an audience of college students. Many for the first time felt like they were rock stars, and thanks to Jeri’s encouragement, they really were! I hope a collaboration between the Club and MAAE continues for many years, as the value for kids is immense!”