Friday, November 19, 2010

Southern Rep announces YO NOLA

Southern Rep, in our 24th year of bringing New Plays to New Orleans, is thrilled to announce the pilot program of an innovative arts and life-skills educational opportunity for a diverse population of traditionally under-served youth.

YO NOLA (Youth Onstage New Orleans, LA), will be a youth theatre company that is run via a free after school program, aimed at kids ages 7 to 12.

Each YO NOLA member will serve the company in multiple, rotating rolls, responsible for the running, operating, and creative output of this junior theatre company. Along with daily mentor supervised operations (including meetings with staff, board, and topic specific committees), members take classes in acting, writing, directing, design, stage management, marketing, fundraising and theatre business management. The company will produce original works, created by the ensemble, which will draw on current events and peer issues, as well as classic literature, fairytales and myths.

This exciting program will be lead by our newly hired Arts Education Director, Gamal Chasten. Gamal is a founding member of the performance troupe UNIVERSES and is a singer, songwriter, poet, actor and educator. Gamal has been working in arts education with high risk and underserved youth for ten years, with students ranging from grade school to graduate school. He has worked closely with incarcerated youth and done workshops across the United States and abroad. The workshops have ranged from introductory creative writing/poetry workshops to performance, theater, ensemble work, and acting. As a Program Director in New York, Gamal worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice. While at the Bronx Council on the Arts, he acted as the primary liaison for arts programming.

Gamal will be blogging about our practice sessions, and keep you updated as we begin work with our first YO NOLA class in January. The kids are going through an application and interview process, in an effort to create the environment of a professional theatre company from the very beginning. We're so excited to be getting started!

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