Lights On! Sparking Social Change and Creative Thinking

Posted 15 March 2016 12:00 AM by Grace Chen

“Lights on!” Students watched closely as their classmates premiered the beginnings of a scene. For the past few weeks, students had considered their own identities and values in relation to human rights issues happening around the world. Forming groups depending on which issues most resonated with them, students creatively explored human rights issues of deep personal concern, ranging from deportation to the environment, racism, and homelessness.

The students not only chose their own topics but also gained experience with a creative process that demanded strong teamwork skills and cycles of revision. A group of boys began reconsidering their scene as they reflected on how the human rights issues were impacting their families and community. They excitedly began imagining new possibilities for how they could connect to their audience by adding realistic details to their scene.

After another group performed their scene, the class enthusiastically praised their movement choices and ability to stay in character but also offered constructive feedback. “Where is your character from?” asked one of the students. “I’m not so sure what message you wanted to tell the audience,” said another. Noting these questions and comments, the performers will continue to think critically and connectedly about their future artistic choices.

The students will be integrating theatre with other art forms such as music, visual arts, and dance for a final showcase in April. Hitting all the notes and beats of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” many voices came together in harmony. Students will continue working with their music teacher to learn new songs as they work with their art teacher to develop social awareness posters. “Freedom is free” said one student’s slogan, expressing the universal human right to liberty and equality. The class considered the power of combining images and words to spark social change.

As part of the Target Arts teaching team, I have been impressed by how much the students have grown along with how supportive, reflective, collaborative, and engaged each adult involved in the project has been. The program has taught me so much about being observant and remaining flexible as new situations and student learning needs arise. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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